World Environment Day: connecting with nature and protecting our oceans

June 5, 2017

Torres del Paine National Park, Patagonia, Chile
Celebrated on 5 June each year, World Environment Day is the largest global day for positive environmental action. This year, the main celebrations are hosted by Canada under the theme of connecting people with nature.

World Environment Day: connecting with nature and protecting our oceans

Today is World Environment Day. Since 1974, the world comes together on June 5th to bring awareness to our environment and the action required from all of us to protect it.

This year’s theme "Connecting People to Nature," and UN Environment is urging people to “go outside and show us that you’re #WithNature.  Breathe in the beauty and remember that by keeping our planet healthy, we keep ourselves healthy too.”

Thousands of events around the world 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.

The GEF, and many of its partners, are joining in the celebrations in different ways.

in Washington, DC, the GEF is supporting the “Nature Summit” (see below) at the Canadian Embassy, organized by UN Environment and the government of Canada, global host country for World Environment Day 2017.

In addition, GEF CEO Naoko Ishii co-authored an article with British economist Nick Stern in the Guardian newspaper today on how green growth can bring prosperity.

Also on World Environment Day, the United Nations Ocean Conference kicks off in New York.  The week-long meeting aims to bring attention to the important role oceans play in the overall health of our planet. The sustainable use of the oceans and marine resources is high on the international agenda. The Conference is focused on the implementation of Sustainable Development Goal 14: Conserve and sustainably use the oceans, seas and marine resources for sustainable development. Co-hosted by Fiji and Sweden, the conference aims to be the game-changer in reversing the decline in the health of our ocean for people, planet and prosperity.

The GEF is participating in a range of events during the conference and will launch a series of publications in collaboration with UNDP, IW: LEARN and the GEF Small Grants Programme, among others.

The UNDP publication called Sea, My Life, launched June 4 at the Ocean Regatta in New York City, tells the story of the long-standing GEF -UNDP collaboration to protect oceans and improve ocean governance by investing in marine protected areas. From Coast to Coast: 20 Years of Transboundary Management of our Shared Oceans was produced in collaboration with IW: LEARN. It tells the story of the efforts made within the GEF’s International Waters focal area to improve ecosystem health and services of transboundary waters, and to catalyze regional and global partnerships in the past 25 years to protect these waters.

In Making Waves, the GEF Small Grants Programme (GEF SGP) and the Equator Initiative celebrate the winners of this year’s Equator Prize, six of which are GEF SGP projects. Finally, a publication on the GEF’s work on Globallast will be launched together with the International Maritime Organization, and the government of Jamaica.

Nature Summit, Washington DC

Artists and innovators from around the world will share their ideas and expertise and engage the audience as agents of change. The discussion will be moderated by renowned adventurer and environmental storyteller, David de Rothschild, and speakers include Élisabeth Lacoursière from Parks Canada and Sean Southey, Conservation Storyteller and member of the #NatureForAll movement. #NatureForAll is a global movement to inspire a new generation of thinkers and doers across all sectors of society to connect with nature and take action to support its conservation. At its core is a very simple idea: the more people experience, connect with, and share their love of nature, the more support there will be for its conservation.