Activities “History of World Environment Day”

“History of World Environment Day”




World Environment Day puts a global spotlight on the pressing environmental challenges of our times. This UN international day has become the largest global platform for environmental outreach, with millions of people from across the world engaging to protect the planet.

2022 – Living in harmony sustainably with nature #OnlyOneEarth

World Environment Day paid homage to the 50th anniversary of what is considered the world’s first environmental summit, the 1972 United Nations Conference on the Human Environment. Like that gathering, it adopted the slogan “Only One Earth”, casting a spotlight on the pressing need to protect and restore humanity’s lone home. 

At the 2022 official event, host country Sweden pledged to stop issuing licenses for new coal, oil and natural gas extraction. More than 65 million people celebrated World Environment Day online.
 2021 – Ecosystem restoration #GenerationRestoration

The focus was Ecosystem Restoration celebrated under the theme “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore”. Hosted by Pakistan, it cast a spotlight on how humanity has been exploiting the planet’s ecosystems and called for a concerted global effort to repair the damage that has been done. Every three seconds, the world loses enough forest to cover a football pitch and, over the last century, half of all wetlands have been destroyed. 

2020 – Biodiversity #TimeForNature

In 2020, the World Environment Day theme focused on biodiversity – a concern both urgent and existential. The day was hosted by Colombia. Against the backdrop of the COVID-19 crisis – caused by the rapid destruction of habitats – President Iván Duque Márquez said “the time to act is now if we want to assure our present and our future.” Fourteen world leaders – including those from Colombia, Costa Rica, Finland, France and Seychelles – released a statement calling on governments worldwide to support a new global goal to protect at least 30 per cent of the planet’s land and ocean by 2030.

2019 – Air pollution #BeatAirPollution

The theme was air pollution, a global emergency that causes around 7 million premature deaths every year. Hosted by China, President Xi Jinping stressed his country’s willingness to share its experience combating air pollution with other nations. China also launched its Air Quality Improvement Report (2013-2018) to showcase successful policies and reflect on lessons learned.

2018 – Beat plastic pollution #BeatPlasticPollution

India hosted the 45th celebration of World Environment Day under the theme “Beat Plastic Pollution.” Over 6,000 people gathered at Versova Beach in Mumbai to join UN Environment Champion of the Earth Afroz Shah in a beach clean-up, where they collected over 90,000 kg of plastic. The Indian government made a bold commitment to ban all single-use plastics—which makes up 70 per cent of marine litter—by 2022 and European Union lawmakers agreed on a ban by 2025.

2017 – Connecting people with nature    #imwithnature

“I’m with nature” was the theme of World Environment Day 2017, which inspired more than 1,800 events, from tree-planting in Mumbai to ivory burning in Angola to a running race through Brazil’s Iguaçu National Park. In host country Canada, Prime Minister Justin Trudeau joined UNEP’s Erik Solheim to connect with nature by paddling kayaks along the Niagara River.

2016 – Illegal trade in wildlife #WildforLife

The day is a springboard for #WildforLife, at the time UNEP’s biggest-ever digital campaign and a major push to counter international wildlife crime. Host country Angola promises to curb the trading of elephant ivory. China, a key destination for illegal wildlife products, subsequently pledges to close down its domestic ivory market.

2015 – Resource efficiency and sustainable consumption and production #ConsumewithCare

World Environment Day goes viral. Hosted by Milan, Italy under the theme “Seven Billion People. One Planet. Consume with Care,” it is the most popular subject on Twitter in more than 20 countries. 

2014 – Small Island Developing States and Climate Change #climatechange

The theme “Raise Your Voice Not the Sea Level!” builds awareness of the dangers facing island nations from climate change. The next year, small island states secure an agreement at the Paris climate talks to pursue the ambitious goal of limiting the increase in average global temperature to 1.5°C.

2013 – Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Food print  #ThinkEatSave

Hosted by Mongolia, this year’s theme is “Think.Eat.Save.” The campaign highlights the environmental toll of food waste, empowering people to make informed choices to reduce the ecological impact of food production.

2012 – Green Economy: Does it Include You? #DoesItIncludeYou?

Twenty years after the Earth Summit, World Environment Day returns to Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. The theme “Green Economy: Does it Include You?” amplifies UNEP’s efforts to create a more sustainable global financial order. The World Environment Day website posts more than 4.25 million visits, a new record.

2011 – Forests: Nature at Your Service

Hosted by India, World Environment Day featured a friendly contest between actor Don Cheadle and entrepreneur Gisele Bündchen to see who can attract more social media followers. As part of the contest, Bündchen planted the first of 50,000 trees in Rio de Janeiro’s Grumari Municipal Park. People around the world registered more than 4,000 activities related to World Environment Day.

2010 – One future

World Environment Day’s Legacy Initiative raises more than US$85,000 for gorilla conservation and solar lighting in villages across host country Rwanda. Voters in a global online competition choose names for several baby gorillas, spotlighting their threatened status during the International Year of Biodiversity.

2009 – Your Planet Needs You: Unite to Combat Climate Change.

2008 – Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy.

2007 – Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?

The theme “Melting Ice? – A Hot Topic”, hosted by Norway in Tromsø, marks the first of three consecutive years in which the day draws attention to climate change. It comes just as the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s  Fourth Assessment Report states that warming of the climate is unequivocal.

2006 – Deserts and Desertification – Don’t Desert Drylands!

A decade after the UN Convention to Combat Desertification entered into force, World Environment Day delivers a reminder of the pressures on drylands when Algeria hosts the celebrations under the slogan “Deserts and Desertification – Don’t Desert Drylands!”

2005 – Green Cities: Plan for the Planet!

World Environment Day is held in North America for the first time, with San Francisco hosting hundreds of events around the theme “Green Cities: Plan for the Planet.” Held in the year the Kyoto Protocol comes into force, the event includes the participation of former United States of America Vice-President Al Gore and former Mayor of San Francisco Gavin Newsom.

2004 – Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?

2003 – Water: Two Billion People Are Dying for It!

The main celebrations take place in Beirut, Lebanon, a first for West Asia. The theme of “Water – Two Billion People are Dying for It!” is chosen in support of the International Year of Fresh Water.


2002 – Give Earth a Chance
2001 – Connect with the World Wide Web of Life

Hosted by Italy. UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan chooses World Environment Day to launch the Millennium Ecosystem Assessment, an unprecedented effort to map the health of the planet. Reflecting the theme “Connect with the World Wide Web of Life,” the international festivities take place across several cities: Torino, Italy; Havana, Cuba; Hue, Viet Nam; and Nairobi, Kenya.

2000 – The Environment Millennium — Time to Act

Hosted by new Zealand. UNEP launches a World Environment Day website, making it easy for people around the world to register their activities and build a sense of global community. The main events take place in Adelaide, Australia under the theme “The Environment Millennium – Time to Act,” ahead of the international summit that sets out the Millennium Development Goals.


World Environment Day highlights threats to marine ecosystems for the first time, using the theme of “For Life on Earth – Save our Seas” in support of the International Year of the Ocean. Moscow, Russia, hosts the celebrations.


Nigerian activist Ken Saro-Wiwa receives a posthumous Global 500 award during World Environment Day celebrations in Ankara, Türkiye. With the award, World Environment Day throws a spotlight on the link between human and environmental rights.


South Africa plays host a year after Nelson Mandela became president. Mandela attends the celebrations, drawing huge international attention to environmental themes. A year earlier, the anti-apartheid leader used the day to declare Cape Town’s Table Mountain a “gift to the Earth” and proof of South Africa’s commitment to protect biodiversity.


China hosts World Environment Day in Beijing, raising environmental awareness in the world’s most populous nation, under the theme “Poverty and the Environment – Breaking the Vicious Circle.” The event returns to China in 2002, hosted by the city of Shenzhen.


World Environment Day is held in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, during the UN Conference on Environment and Development, better known as the Earth Summit. Nations negotiate landmark treaties on climate change, desertification and biodiversity, and set the course for contemporary sustainable development.


A year after the establishment of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, celebrations hosted in Brussels, Belgium echo mounting concern about global warming. The theme will be revisited more than any other in subsequent World Environment Day campaigns.


The main celebrations begin to rotate around the globe, starting in Bangkok, Thailand. The theme of “When People Put the Environment First, Development Will Last” comes a year after the Brundtland Report laid out its influential blueprint for sustainability.


UNEP marks the day at its headquarters in Nairobi, Kenya, by presenting the first of its Global 500 awards to environmental champions including Wangari Maathai. The awards become a mainstay of World Environment Day celebrations through 2003.


The theme “A Tree for Peace” coincides with the International Year of Peace. Reflecting World Environment Day’s growing profile, political and religious leaders, including French President François Mitterrand, Indian Prime Minister Rajiv Gandhi and Uganda’s President Yoweri Museveni, take part in a global ceremony by planting a tree and stressing the links between conflict and environmental destruction.


A tree for peace

The campaign draws attention to toxic chemicals in groundwater and food chains. The next year, UNEP’s Governing Council adopts the Montevideo Programme, setting priorities for global lawmaking that lead to major international agreements restricting or eliminating an array of hazardous chemicals and pollutants.


The theme “Only One Future for Our Children” coincides with the International Year of the Child. For the first time, World Environment Day echoes a UN-designated international year, a trend that grows as environmental problems rise up on the global agenda.


UNEP uses the day to highlight concern about the ozone layer, setting a trend for World Environment Day to generate vital early momentum on critical environmental issues. It takes another 10 years to seal the landmark Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer.


World Environment Day is celebrated for the first time with the slogan “Only One Earth.”


The UN General Assembly designates 5 June as World Environment Day, marking the first day of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, leads to the creation of UNEP.

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