World Environment Day 2015
5 June, 2015
This year’s theme is ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’ aiming to target the increasing levels of consumption across the globe which fuel the exponential expansion of extractive industries and pollution from energy production. The current level of demand for natural resources is unsustainable and the insatiable appetite to extract fossil fuels and minerals is irreversibly damaging terrestrial and marine ecosystems across the planet. Oil spills, air pollution, climate change and rising sea levels are eroding communities and destroying lives around the planet now; and with current rates of consumption set to increase, this can only get worse.
It is particularly important to note the mention of ‘Seven Billion Dreams’ as it touches on the surge in economic development that is driving us towards environmental catastrophe. Indicators of socioeconomic development all show the world is progressing like never before, with approximately one billion people lifted out of poverty since 1990. Humankind should be immensely proud of this achievement – nonetheless, we still have an obligation to rescue the remaining 1.1 billion who remain below $1.25 a day. Unsustainable development is helping to drive the increase in consumption which is irrecoverably damaging the environment. The average person in the United States still emits 17.6 metric tons of CO2 a year, dwarfing the average Chinese person’s emissions at 6.2 tons. However, the average Chinese emissions per capita has more than doubled since 2000 and with the country’s high rate of growth, will continue on a steep upwards climb.
All this demonstrates that the effort to reduce our impact on the environment must be truly global: developed countries must significantly reduce their consumption whilst developing countries must look to sustainable development to secure their futures. We must all reflect on our consumption and act accordingly – our contributions to the global emissions make us all responsible. UNEP World Environment Day 2015 will raise awareness of that need for action, and marks a global reaffirmation to meet climate change targets and protect the ecosystems that life on Earth depends on.
‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’ touches on many elements of our ongoing work in sustainable development and the environment. We brought together policy makers, academics and civil society to discuss the solutions and actions being undertaken around the world to establish Real green economies. Similarly, we held events examining priorities in European low carbon infrastructure projects, helping regional efforts to achieve development while also addressing climate change. We have also hosted events examining the trends and future challenges in resource consumption, and how countries can create resilient agricultural systems in a world of resource scarcity.
Our work is in line with the broader environmental priorities being worked on by the British Foreign and Commonwealth Office (FCO), and in line with the UK’s targets to reduce its emissions by at least 80% from 1990 to 2050. It also supports G7 climate change commitments, and the discussion on energy and climate change during the G7 Summit on the 7 and 8 of June, only two days after UNEP World Environment Day.
Through raising awareness and encouraging positive action from all peoples from across the world, UNEP World Environment Day is as urgent and important as ever. We are proud to support its message by continuing to promote dialogue and resolution between the influential policymakers and actors who will define our approach to environmental issues now and out in to the future.
UNEP World Environment Day
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