Proclaimed by the United Nations as International Day for Biological Diversity, May 22 is a day for increasing understanding of biodiversity issues including diversity loss, habitat destruction and renewal.
World Environment Day (WED), commemorated each year on 5 June is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.
WED was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Since then, it has been held every year, always on the same date, and with an ever growing list of participating countries.
WED is a people's event with global participation. It has previously been celebrated in many ways, with people all over the world getting involved in street rallies, bicycle parades, concerts, school activities and tree planting as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.
The day is also marked by a global summit attended by important environmental and governmental representatives, each year held by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) at a new host city.
June 8 is the annual World Ocean Day created in 1992 at the UN Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro, and was officially confirmed by the United Nations in 2009. Organizations and individuals from around the world come together on this day to celebrate the oceans, reflect on their importance in our lives, and take time to do something good for our blue planet.
On this Day of the Oceans, let us -
- Change the way we look at oceans -what the sea means to us, and what it can give.
- Use the opportunity to learn more about the oceans - many of us do not realize the profusion of diverse and beautiful creatures and habitats that are found in oceans, and how our actions affect them.
- Do something positive for the oceans - by finding ways we can alter our daily lives to conserve the oceans and reduce the our impacts on its fragile ecosystems
Recognised by the United Nations as a day of celebration and awareness of the importance of the world's oceans, World Oceans Day asks communities to consider issues in their coasts and oceans, including fishing, pollution and habitat destruction.
A day for recognising the importance of the wind in shaping our natural environment - particularly in the renewable energy debate. Talks are held by experts in wind power technology and discussion is held online.
Celebrated world-wide, June 17 marks the anniversary of the adoption of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification. This is part of the UN campaign to tackle global environmental deterioration in particular by combatting the degradation of drylands. This year's theme highlights the social dimensions of desertification: migration and poverty.
Desertification is land degradation in arid, semi-arid and dry sub-humid areas resulting from various factors, including climatic variations and human activities. Combating desertification includes activities which are part of the integrated development of land in arid, semi-arid, and dry sub-humid areas for sustainable development which are aimed at prevention and/or reduction of land degradation; rehabilitation of partly degraded land; and reclamation of desertified land.
Worldwide nearly 130 million hectares are 'lost' for ever due to degradation and can no longer be used for food production. "Desertification" is not the spread of deserts but the creation of desert-like conditions in the dry lands, which make up 35% of the Earth's land surface. It occurs when the natural vegetation cover is reduced in its cover and the topsoil becomes susceptible to erosion. This initiates a number of other problems including increase surface runoff and stream discharge, reduction of water infiltration and groundwater recharge, change in surface microclimate or reduction in native plants.
The impact of global desertification is threatening the livelihoods of some 1.2 billion people who depend on land for most of their needs. More than 135 million people – the equivalent to the population of Germany and France combined - are at risk of being displaced as a consequence of desertification.
"Drought and desertification threaten the livelihood of over 1 billion people in more than 110 countries around the world. Every year, an estimated $42 billion in income and 6 million hectares of productive land are being lost because of desertification, land degradation and declining agricultural productivity, and 135 million people who depend primarily on land for their livelihood are at risk of being displaced" - UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan.