The United Nations General Assembly established World Environment Day in 1972 to commemorate the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. On the same day, the General Assembly created the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), which is now the United Nations’ principal agency for environmental action.
The theme for World Environment Day 2006 is Deserts and Desertification; the slogan for World Environment Day this year is Don’t Desert Drylands.
According to the United Nations Environment Programme, drylands cover more than 40 percent of Earth’s surface and are home to a third of the world’s population. People who make their home in drylands live in a fragile ecosystem and are more vulnerable than most other people to changes in climate and desertification—a process of land degradation in which semi-arid areas are transformed into deserts.
The City of Algiers in Algeria is the official international host community for World Environment Day 2006. San Francisco was the official host in 2005.
According to the UNEP web site: “The day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.”
The United Nations describes World Environment Day as “a people’s event,” and all sorts of activities are taking place today in countries and communities around the world to bring attention to a wide range of environmental issues—from parades, street rallies and concerts to tree planting, recycling and community clean-up campaigns.
If your hometown doesn’t have any activities planned to officially celebrate World Environment Day, take some time today to do something on your own. Plant a tree, clean up a section of road near your home, pledge to recycle more this year, learn more about drylands and desertification, or follow some of the tips in Top 10 Things You Can Do to Reduce Global Warming.