As Ghana joins the globe to mark the World Environment Day (WED) on Friday, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), has reiterated the need for all Ghanaians to support national efforts at protecting the environment to safeguard humanity.
The EPA is specifically asking the public to protect the country' s biodiversity, especially endangered plant, and animal species, to shield from danger, the health of the people, and future livelihood.
The Agency is also encouraging the media to educate the public and create more awareness of the need to protect biodiversity in particular and the environment in general.
The EPA, in a release signed by its Director of Corporate Affairs Directorate, Mrs Angelina Tutua Mensah, said people in more than 100 countries are celebrating the day in virtual events due to the COVID-19 pandemic on the global theme: “Biodiversity”.
In Ghana, however, the local theme for this year's WED celebration is "Protect Biodiversity: Our Survival Depends on it".
Among activities to mark the day, the EPA, under the auspices of the Ministry of Environment, Science, Technology, and Innovation (MESTI) are organising virtual and digital national events to commemorate the occasion.
The EPA said the celebration of WED 2020 via digital and virtual platforms, which is a departure from the norm, was in keeping with the Presidential directives on social gathering in the fight against COVID-19.
The release quoted the United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP), as saying that the emergence of COVID-19 had underscored the fact that “when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the system that supports life.
“The more variety of living things (plants, animals), the more it is difficult for one pathogen/virus to pass between animals and people.”
The UNEP, which organizes the annual event, had said that up to one million plant and animal species were facing extinction, and so it was more important to focus on the issue of biodiversity this time.
It regretted that people had changed the world's system that naturally protected them, through actions such as deforestation, encroachment on wildlife habitats, intensified agriculture, and acceleration of climate change.
“It is instructive to note that about one billion cases of illness and millions of deaths occur every year from diseases caused by viruses; and about 75 percent of all emerging infectious diseases in humans are zoonotic, meaning, they are transmitted to people by animals”.
The WED was initiated by the UN in 1972 as a major vehicle of the world body to create awareness and call for action from individuals, corporate bodies and state actors to protect the environment.
Sincerely its inception, WED had helped to address many critical environmental issues, including biodiversity, marine pollution, desertification, global warming, climate change, human overgrowth, air pollution, sustainable consumption, and wildlife protection.
The 2020 World Environment day event being hosted by Colombia, in partnership with Germany, comes in the wake of the Coronavirus pandemic which has disrupted social and physical activities across the world.
Meanwhile, the recent Global Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), attributed the main drivers of biodiversity loss to land-use changes, direct exploitation of natural resources, climate change, pollution, and invasive alien species.
This negative trend in biodiversity and ecosystems loss is expected to undermine the achievement of some targets of the Sustainable Development Goals.
The report also notes that one million plant and animal species face extinction, indicating that there had never been a more important time to focus on biodiversity than now.
Experts said the year 2020 is a critical year for nations to account for their commitments to conserve and restore biodiversity as it ends the United Nations Decade on Biodiversity (2011-2020), which sought to promote the implementation of a strategic plan on biodiversity and its overall vision of living in harmony with nature.
2020 is also a year for urgency, ambition, and action to address the crisis facing nature and an opportunity to more fully incorporate nature-based solutions into global climate action.
This year also provides an opportunity to ramp up to the start of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration (2021-2030), intended to massively scale up the restoration of degraded and destroyed ecosystems to fight the climate crisis and enhance food security, water supply, and biodiversity.
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