From its high mountains to hills and plains, Nepal has diverse geographies, flora and fauna. Despite running many successful environmental protection programs, including the community forestry and Local Adaptation Program of Action, however, Nepal is still environmentally sensitive

June 5, 2017, 11:20 a.m. Published in Magazine Issue: VOL. 10, NO. 20, June 2- 2017 (Jestha 19, 2074)

From its high mountains to hills and plains, Nepal has diverse geographies, flora and fauna. Despite running many successful environmental protection programs, including the community forestry and Local Adaptation Program of Action, however, Nepal is still environmentally sensitive. At a time when the global temperature is rising and Nepal is facing several environment-related disasters, the Word Environment Day celebrations seem to have their own significance.

Nepal is a country with high risk in terms of climate change and other disasters. However, Nepal is also known for its successful models in implementing forest conservation, environmental protection and community level adaptation activities as well.

Celebrating the World Environment Day for almost over 30 years, Nepal has seen the people's level of awareness in environmental protection going up. To capture the trend, Nepal has chosen a slogan for the World Environment Day 2017: I am with Nature.

“This year’s World Environment Day slogan is Connecting People to Nature. However, we have localized it and our slogan for the World Environment Day, that is, on June 5, 2017 is: I am with Nature. This is a very important day for a country like ours, which has been facing severe environmental challenges. This slogan is very timely in the sense of fostering relations between nature and people. All our environmental and nature conservation related programs and policies are related to the people. In our nature conservation programs, there is a direct involvement of ethnic groups and communities,” said secretary of Population of Environment Dr. Bishwa Nath Oli. (See Interview)

Nepal’s experience of living with nature is recognized worldwide. As Nepal is heading from a unitary to federal structure, with the elections of local bodies happening after a long time, everything may not be the same again. The right to decide on nature preservation and environment is given to the locally elected bodies, although, it is certainly unclear now what will the state of community forest user groups be.

As the slogan hints at, Nepalese communities have shown how to live and manage nature. Any changes in their current status will drastically change the current success. As Nepal is projecting its success story of community management of nature, which it learnt in decades, the new political apparatus may invite certain level of conflict.

With the change in state structure, Nepal needs to review its policy, regulations and acts. Unlike in the past, the new constitution devolves most of the environmental protection activities to the local and provincial levels.

As Nepal is celebrating WED 2017 with its own slogan, this is the right occasion to debate the issue to protect the people living with nature. As UN Environment seeks to make the biggest global call and mobilize people for action on 5 June, World Environment Day (WED), Nepal has to start the debate to avoid future confrontation.

After the implementation of the constitution, all the district level forest offices will be removed and EIA and IEE will be the responsibility of provinces. Similarly, execution of air quality control mechanism will go to the provinces. It will diminish the role of Department of Environment and Ministry of Population and Environment.

As the World Environment Day is the biggest annual event for positive environmental action and takes place every 5 June, Nepalese also needs to think about the future. “This is the right time to think about what we need to do and how to make our old institutions compatible to the changed context,” said Ganesh Shaha, former Minister for Environment, Science and Technology.

The World Environment Day is a day for everyone, everywhere. Since it began in 1972, Nepalese citizens have organized many thousands of events, from neighborhood clean-ups, to action against wildlife crime, to replanting forests and improving the quality of air.

As nature and people are disconnecting with various interventiond, this year’s World Environment Day makes a call for connection. "Connecting People to Nature", the theme for the World Environment Day 2017, implores us to get outdoors and into nature, to appreciate its beauty and its importance, and to take forward the call to protect the Earth that we share.

This year’s theme invites you to think about how we are part of nature and how intimately we depend on it. It challenges us to find fun and exciting ways to experience and cherish this vital relationship.

History of World Environment Day

World Environment Day started with celebrations of an annual event on every 5th of June since 1973 in order to raise the global awareness about the importance of a healthy and green environment for human lives, to solve the environmental issues by implementing some positive environmental actions as well as to make the common public worldwide aware that everyone is responsible for saving his environment and not only somebody, government or some organization explicitly working for it.

The environment day was first established to be celebrated every year by running some effective campaigns by the United Nations General Assembly and United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) in the conference on Human Environment, that had been held from 5th to 16th of June at United Nations in 1972.  It was the first celebration in 1973, and the particular theme was, Only One Earth. Since 1974, the celebrations on the world environment day are hosted in different cities of the world.

The big annual celebration was started by the United Nations General Assembly to engage millions of people from different countries across the globe as well as draw the attention of political and health organizations to implement some effective actions.

Why Does Nepal Celebrate It?

World environment day celebration aimed at addressing the huge environmental issues like wastage and losses of food, deforestation, increasing global warming, among others. Every year's celebration is planned according to the particular theme and slogan of the year to bring effectiveness in the campaign all through the world.

It is celebrated to successfully get carbon neutrality, focusing on the forest management, reducing greenhouse effects, promoting bio-fuels production by planting on degraded lands, use of hydro-power to enhance electricity production, encourage common public to use solar water heaters, energy production through solar sources, developing new drainage systems, promoting coral reefs and mangroves restoration in order to get safe from flooding and erosion, including other ways of environmental preservation. Some of the objectives of the world environment day campaign are mentioned below:

It is celebrated to make the common public aware about the environmental issues while encouraging them in different societies and communities to actively participate in the celebration as well as becoming an active agent in developing environmental safety measures.

It also aims to let them know that community people are very essential to inhibit negative changes towards the environmental issues while encouraging people to make their nearby surroundings safe and clean, to enjoy safer, cleaner and more prosperous future.

WED Activities

Many programs are planned to celebrate the event in different parts of the country to encourage more people towards the celebration. Various news channels take part very actively in the celebration to cover the news and distribute messages about the celebration among common public through their news publications to bring effective and positive changes towards the environment to solve all the environmental issues.

Some of the national level activities include street rallies, tree plantation, garbage recycling, surrounding area clean-up, parades and so many activities in order to draw people's attention towards a wide range of environmental issues as well as bring difference.

People of all age groups actively get involved during the celebration to save their planet in original form as gifted by the nature. Youths hugely take part in the celebration through many activities such as clean up campaigns, art exhibitions, motivating people for tree-planting, dance activities, recycling garbage, film festivals, community events, essay writing, poster competition, social media campaign and a lot more.

As the world community is celebrating the World Environment Day 2017 on June 5, Nepal, a country in the middle of a state restructuring, should tap the opportunity to turn the new state structures more environment-friendly than they have been ever before.

“Earth provides enough to satisfy everyman’s needs, but not every man’s greed." – Mahatma Gandhi

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