5th June 2019 -World Environment Day and status of Pakistan


Abdul Razak Shaikh,

World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated on the 5th of June every year, and is the United Nation s principal vehicle for encouraging awareness and action for the protection of our environment. First held in 1974, it has been a flagship campaign for raising awareness on emerging environment issues from marine pollution, human overpopulation and global warming, to Sustainable consumption and wildlife crime. WED has grown to become a global platform for public outreach, with participation from over 143 countries annually. Each year, WED has a new theme that major corporations, NGOs, communities, governments and celebrities worldwide adapt to advocate environmental causes.

World Environment Day [WED] was established by the UN General assembly in 1972 on the first day of the Stockholm conference on Human Environment, resulting from discussions on the integration of human interactions and the environment.

Later that year, on 15 December, the General Assembly adopted a resolution designating June 5 as World Environment Day and urging “Governments and the organizations in the United Nations system to undertake on that day every year worldwide activities reaffirming their concern for the preservation and enhancement of the environment, with a view to deepening environmental awareness and to pursuing the determination expressed at the Conference.” The date coincides with the first day of the Landmark Conference.

Two years later, in 1974 the first WED was held with the theme “Only One Earth”. Even though WED celebration has been held annually since 1974, in 1987 the idea for rotating the center of these activities through selecting different host countries began.

For almost five decades, World Environment Day has been raising awareness, supporting action, and driving change. Here is a timeline of key accomplishments in WEDs’ history:

Environmental issues in Pakistan include deforestation, Air pollution, Water Pollution, Noise Pollution, Climate Change Pesticide misuse, Soil erosion, natural Disaster and desertification. These are serious environmental problems that Pakistan is facing, and they are getting worse as the country’s economy expands and the population grows. Little is being done to tackle these issues because of the goals of economic growth and tackling terrorism within the country supersede the goals of environmental preservation. Although NGOs and government departments have taken initiatives to stop environmental degradation, Pakistan’s environmental issues still remain.

Pakistan is facing a lot of climatic and environmental issues, including Water pollution, soil erosion, and land pollution, shortage of water, global warming, air pollution, and natural disasters. According to the latest global environment performance index (EPI) ranking Pakistan is in the list of countries which suffer from poor air quality. The climatic changes and global warming are the most alarming issues risking millions of lives across the country. The major reasons of these environmental issues are carbon emission, increasing populations, and deforestation.

The unavailability of water is the main issue, according to the recent report of International monetary fund (IMF) Pakistan ranks third in the list of countries facing acute water shortages. United Nations Development Program (UNDP) and Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) indicate that Pakistan will reach absolute scarcity by 2025. The main reason behind this water shortage is urbanization, ever-growing population, climatic changes, lack of water management and the lack of political will to deal with the issue.

Another big issue is the increasing pollution. According to the international study, around 92% of all pollution-related deaths are in the middle-income developing countries like Pakistan, India, China, and Bangladesh. The study has found that nine million deaths worldwide are related to pollution in 2015. The releases of toxic gases from the factories, brick kilns, and carbon emission from vehicles are the main contributors of day by day increasing air pollution in the country. The air pollution causes respiratory diseases, skin infection, and eye infections as well.

Another important environmental issue is waste disposal. Our factories and hospitals dispose of thousands of tons of waste in the lakes and river streams on a daily basis. Similarly, the lack of proper waste management system allocated landfills sites and negligence on local municipal corporations and public are the main causes of waste dumped openly on roads and streets.

Water scarcity and clean drinking water is the talk of the town these days. Pakistan is a water scarce country. The main causes are climate change, lack of enough reservoirs to store water, water issues with India, and old irrigation system and water wastages in domestic consumption and lack of awareness. Air pollution, poor waste management, and population bomb are major hurdles behind the availability of clean drinking water for everyone in Pakistan.

The use of plastic bags is another challenge because a single plastic bag takes hundreds of years to degrade. These plastic bags flying in the air, floating in water bodies and dumped on the streets do not only offer hideous sights but are also threatening for humans and other living organisms. All provincial and federal governments in Pakistan have banned the use of plastic bags, but citizens are not complying with the laws. It also challenges the writ of law and strategies to implement those laws.

Increasing urbanization is damaging us natural environment. The increasing population and urbanization are putting pressure on the government to provide more facilities like housing, transportation, food and health facilities thus leading to the development of more concrete infrastructure.

The noise pollution is another problem for environmental conservation efforts. Pressure horns and factories cause noise pollution. The noise pollution can lead to psychological problems thus disrupting social relationships. Again, the issue is with non-implementation and compliance with the laws of the country.

It’s high time for all of us to ponder upon environmental issues at all levels seriously.