This year’s World Environment Day is shaping up to be the biggest ever celebration of our connection with the wonders of nature, and there are many great opportunities for everyone, everywhere to get outdoors and involved on or around 5 June.
From China to Chile and from Sweden to South Africa, governments, schools, businesses and citizens are organizing thousands of fun events that will help us appreciate our dependence on the natural world and the need to protect it.
They include: beach clean-ups from the Pacific Ocean to the Caspian Sea; tree-planting from all over India to the London training ground of Arsenal FC; hikes and walks in city parks and wildlife refuges from Iran to the Philippines; and monuments from New York’s Empire State Building to the Burj Khalifa in Dubai being bathed in green light.
With less than a week to go, now is the time to find a registered event near you or to rally friends and family and organize one of your own. Individuals and organizations can find lots of great ideas here and here to help craft a plan.
If you are a manager or an official, why not move all of your Monday meetings outdoors? Schools can adopt our specially designed Lesson Plans; nature clubs or any other group could try their hand at citizen science by spotting birds or catching bugs and sharing photos of their finds with the experts.
As well as the thousands of grassroots activities, there are several global initiatives to which everyone can contribute. They are aligned with the official theme of this year’s World Environment Day: connecting people with nature.
Using the iNaturalist app, more than 20,000 schoolchildren, scientists, politicians and pop stars around the globe will be attempting the world's largest BioBlitz on 1-12 June, aiming to document more than a quarter of a million fascinating creatures in their backyards, parks and nature reserves.
Or you can help create the World's Biggest Nature Photo Album. Encouraged by UN Environment Goodwill Ambassadors Gisele Bündchen and Don Cheadle, social media users are posting photos of their favourite natural places with the hashtag #WithNature. Some of the best will be exhibited at UN headquarters in New York.
If you are walking or picnicking in the park, or looking for urban nature, maybe you will witness one of more than 20 major landmarks around the world turning green on the evening of 5 June. They also include the Christ the Redeemer statue in Rio, the Pyramids in Cairo and the Guangzhou Tower in China.
Thousands of people will be flocking to the coast to join clean-ups on beaches and rivers and in the mountains, including on the US/Mexico border in Tijuana and in Spain, India, Lebanon, the Greek Islands, Australia, Norway, Canada and Kenya.
Many people will be heading to a nearby national park or nature reserve on World Environment Day. Several countries are expected to use the occasion to announce the expansion of their networks of protected areas.
Canada, the official host for this year’s World Environment Day, is giving free entry all year to its national parks. UN Environment Goodwill Ambassador Jack Johnson will play a special World Environment Day concert in Toronto on 4 June.
UN Environment Chief Erik Solheim and Canada’s Environment and Climate Change Minister Catherine McKenna will be visiting the C3 icebreaker, which is traveling from Toronto to Victoria through the Northern Passage to celebrate Canada's 150th anniversary and deepen its citizens’ understanding of their country.
Wherever you are on World Environment Day, there is probably an activity already organized near you. If not, there is one just waiting for you to organize it.