World Comes Together to Mark World Environment Day

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By Matilda Nakawungu

WED15th June 2016. Last Sunday, the world joined voices in a global cry for the protection of the environment.  Observed every year on 5 June since 1974, the World Environment Day event is run by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This year, celebrations were hosted by Angola, a country seeking to restore its elephant herds, conserve Africa’s biodiversity-rich wildlife, and safeguard the environment as it continues to rebuild after more than a quarter-century of civil war.The event organized under the theme “ZERO TOLERANCE FOR THE ILLEGAL WILDLIFE TRADE” and with a trending slogan ‘Go Wild for Life’, raised global awareness to take positive environmental action to protect nature and the planet Earth. This year’s theme brought global awareness to the booming illegal trade in wildlife products that is eroding Earth’s precious biodiversity, robbing us of our natural heritage and pushing whole species towards extinction.

In a report titled “The Rise of Environmental Crime” that was released by UNEP and INTERPOL on the eve of World Environment Day in Nairobi, Eco-crime was reported to have hit a record high at up to $258 billion with international criminal gangs and militant groups profiting from the plunder of Earth’s resources outstripping the illegal trade in small arms. The report also noted that the value of environmental crime is 26 per cent larger than previous estimates, at $91-258 billion in 2016 compared to $70-213 billion in 2014. This rise has been greatly a result of weak laws and poorly funded security forces that have enabled international criminal networks and armed rebels to profit from a trade that fuels conflicts, devastates ecosystems and is threatening species with extinction.

Ivory“We have a big push to manage protected areas and create others for the benefit of our people. For us to survive, other species need to survive” said Abias Huongo, Director of Angola’s National Institute of Biodiversity at the WED celebrations in Angola.

We hope you all marked this day in a special way. Let’s use the power we have to make the earth a better place than we found it. In the words of Gaylord Nelson,

“The ultimate test of man’s conscience may be his willingness to sacrifice something today for future generations whose words of thanks will not be heard”.