World Environment Day is a global platform that aims to raise awareness and action for protecting the environment. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) since 1973, World Environment Day 2023 aims to create awareness of Plastic Pollution with its theme, “Beat Plastic Pollution.” The theme Beat Plastic Pollutions aptly resonates with our state, Sikkim’s policy and initiatives on curbing single-use plastics.
Sikkim is a state known for its natural beauty and biodiversity and has taken steps to protect and preserve it for future generations. Our efforts towards clean energy have been recognized globally. To secure a sustainable future, it is equally crucial to protect our forests and wildlife. Our state is home to numerous endangered species, such as the Red Panda and Snow Leopard. It is our prime responsibility to protect them and their habitats.
Our government has introduced various conservation initiatives like “A Day for Mother Earth,” “Mero Rukh Mero Santati,” “Paryavaran Parva,” etc. that resonates well with numerous national and international initiatives like Mission LiFE (Lifestyle for Environment). Mission LiFE is a brand-new initiative for a sustainable and healthy lifestyle introduced by our Prime Minister, Shri Narendra Modi to the world at the 26th UN Conference of the Parties (COP26) on climate change in Glasgow.
It was also launched recently in the presence of the UN Secretary-General António Guterres at the Statue of Unity, Ekta Nagar, Gujarat. He emphasized the value of cooperation in the battle against climate change, pointing out that it goes beyond governmental responsibility and requires contributions from individuals, families, and communities. Climate change and global warming are the main challenges before the world and mankind, and Mission LiFE makes the fight democratic with everyone’s contribution.
Climate change is a global crisis, and we must act now to prevent further damage. As a state, Sikkim and its people must work towards reducing our carbon footprint.
Our government has taken steps by promoting renewable sources of energy. Mero Rukh Mero Santati (MRMs) initiative of our government alone on a long-term average will sequester about 2.2 metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) per annum for every new-born which will comfortably offset the estimated per capita carbon dioxide (CO2) emission in India (which is to the tune of 1.9 metric tons). The program is expected to lead to a carbon-neutral society in the long term. MRMs is one such program that aims at creating an environmental legacy by embedding tree planting, with one of the important milestones of life i.e., childbirth. Tree planting under MRMs will be carried out during plantation season identified as Santati Saptah (1st week of July) every year.
Moreover, the State of Sikkim has already achieved a milestone in the environmental sector that potentially other parts of the globe can emulate. The State of Sikkim with only 0.22% of the geographical area of the country harbors around 27% of flowering plants occurring in India including 550 species of orchids and 36 species of Rhododendron. The state possesses around 43% mammals, 45% birds, and 50% butterflies that occur in the Indian subcontinent. This makes Sikkim special and unique. Forest and Environment Department in the recent past has also confirmed the presence of Tiger in the forests of Sikkim which affirms that the quality of forests in the state of Sikkim has improved.
The state of Sikkim has witnessed enormous development recently, however, we have not compromised on the principle of ecological security in the development process. Even though over 30% of the lands are perpetually covered in snow and hence unable to support plantations, we have managed to sustain our forest cover at over 47%. One National Park, seven Wildlife Sanctuaries, and Conservation Reserves covering 30.77% of the geographic area of the state constitute the highest Protected Area Network in the country. The Khangchendzonga National Park is the only UNESCO World Heritage Site in India under a mixed category of culture and environment.
Additionally, we are promoting ecotourism, which can give nearby communities an alternative source of income while preserving our forests and wildlife. Sikkim has an abundance of water resources, but global warming may put a strain on them. To conserve water and promote sustainable usage, the government has been promoting initiatives such as the Jal Shakti Abhiyan, rainwater harvesting, water-efficient irrigation systems, Pradhan Mantri Krishi Sichayee Yojana: Watershed Development Component, etc.
The World Environment Day campaign “Beat Plastic Pollution” encourages people to take action to minimize plastic pollution by using less single-use plastic and advocating eco-friendly substitutes. Although Sikkim banned the use of single-use plastic much earlier, we have gone one step ahead to ban plastic water bottles up to 2 liters in the state of Sikkim. The fact that we no longer see plastic bottles around is a clear indication of this. To reduce carbon footprints, I implore my fellow people to say “No” to plastic and put the concepts of reduce, reuse, and recycle into practice.
The Paryavaran Parva is an initiative of our government to protect and conserve the environment. The plantation is the best way to contribute, but activities like cleanliness drives, Jhora cleaning, minimizing the use of energy, debates, discussions, awareness activities, etc. can also be carried out. Fruit and fodder plantations in private and public lands can also be considered. To conserve and manage the urban ecosystem, the role of the public is essential.
Human-animal conflicts are being exacerbated by the unethical disposal of garbage and its improper management. This highlights the role of every individual. To ensure a sustainable future for ourselves and future generations, we must work together. Let’s pledge to protect and conserve our environment, including all of its dwellers, from tiny microbes and insects to large mammals, butterflies to birds, majestic mountains to charming valleys, cold deserts and plateaus to luxuriant forests, enchanting waterfalls, swift streams and rivers to subtle lakes, fresh air to open spaces, because they are our indispensable and valuable resources.
I feel, protecting and preserving forests and the environment is not only the responsibility and obligation of the Forest and Environment Department, but all of us should be conscious and stand shoulder to shoulder in the protection of the environment, rendering our full support feeling it our foremost duty. As our lifeline, protecting forests and the environment today will benefit our future generations. They will be grateful to us for the initiatives that we have taken for its protection and preservation today. Sikkim has made a lot of progress in this regard while the credit goes to the Sikkimese society, individuals, and the Forest and Environment Department.
With great encouragement, I would like to congratulate and thank each and every individual in Sikkim, including the officers and staff at all levels of the Forest and Environment and other departments.
Our stay here on earth is not permanent. We have got an opportunity to look after our mother earth and in turn, the mother earth will look after us.
I wish you a very Happy World Environment Day,
The origins of World Environment Day can be traced back to 1972 when the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment took place in Stockholm, Sweden. This conference led to the establishment of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) on June 15, 1972.
The UNEP proposed the idea of dedicating a special day to the environment. In 1972, the UN General Assembly officially designated June 05 as World Environment Day (WED). The inaugural World Environment Day was observed on June 05, 1973, with the slogan “Only One Earth.”
World Environment Day 2023 marks the 50th anniversary of its establishment. This year, the theme for WED 2023 is “Beat Plastic Pollution.”
As stated by UNEP, Côte d’Ivoire will host World Environment Day 2023, with support from the Netherlands. The theme will focus on finding solutions to plastic pollution through the #BeatPlasticPollution campaign. It serves as a reminder that individual actions regarding plastic pollution make a significant impact. The steps taken by governments and businesses to combat plastic pollution are a direct result of these collective efforts.
World Environment Day serves as a global platform advocating for a greener and pollution-free environment. It calls upon governments to prioritize environmental concerns and enact laws aimed at reducing environmental exploitation.
Protecting the environment is a global imperative that can only be achieved through international cooperation. This initiative brings together various international organizations, entities, and stakeholders to address the environmental challenges that pose threats to our planet.
The environment has faced considerable harm due to industrialization. World Environment Day encourages individuals to embrace eco-friendly practices in order to create a cleaner and greener environment.
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