TOMORROW, June 5, is World Environment Day (WED). This event was established by the United Nations (UN) General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. It was also on this date that the UN General Assembly created the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the principal body of the UN in the field of environment. The first celebration, under the slogan “Only One Earth” took place in 1974.

In the Philippines, we commemorate WED but extended it. The whole month of June is observed as environment month. This yearly observance started in 1988 when President Corazon C. Aquino signed proclamation No. 237 declaring the month of June as Philippine Environment Month.

This 2021, Pakistan will host the WED celebration in partnership with the UNEP. The theme for this year’s observance is “ecosystem restoration,” focusing on resetting our relation with nature. The Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) translated the theme into “Sama-Samang Pag-kilos, Sama-Samang Paghilom- Ikaw, Ako, Tayo ang Kalikasan.” Earth Day, another global event observed every April 22, has a similar theme for 2021 which is “Restore our Earth.”

The WED observance will also mark the formal launch of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration 2021-2030. The aim of this observance is to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. It can help to end poverty, combat climate change and prevent a mass extinction. It is also the deadline for the “Sustainable Development Goals” and the timeline scientists have identified critical for avoiding the worst impacts of climate change.

Ecosystem restoration means assisting in the recovery of ecosystems that have been degraded or destroyed, as well as conserving the ecosystems that are still intact. Healthier ecosystems, with richer biodiversity, yield greater benefits such as more fertile soils, bigger yields of timber and fish, and larger stores of greenhouse gases. Ecosystem restoration can be done by growing trees, greening cities, rewilding gardens, changing diets or cleaning up rivers and coasts.

The DENR-Environmental Management Bureau has lined up several activities to celebrate WED and at the same time raise awareness among Filipinos to be responsible for the environment. Throughout June, the DENR-EMB will be publishing infographics about marine plastic pollution through its social media pages to foster responsible solid waste behavior.

From June 5-10, Facebook followers of DENR-EMB can join "Greenvirogames," which is a series of games that include Graphics Interchange Format or GIF and scavenger hunt activities. As one of the highlights of Environment Month, the DENR-EMB is also set to recognize the Regional Champions on Environmental Management through its Game Changer Awards on June 30.