World Environment Day 2020 Theme and Importance

World Environment Day 2020 Theme,Importance in COVID-19 World and Co-relation with Natural Environment: 5th June of every year is celebrated as World Environment Day.
World Environment Day 2020 Theme,Importance in COVID-19 World

Today is 5th June, 2020. This day is celebrated as World Environment Day every year. The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) annually celebrates World Environment Day. The theme of World Environment Day 2020 is, ‘Time for Nature’. World Environment Day is celebrated to encourage awareness and environmental protection. This day has gained more importance amidst the Corona virus crisis. Let us connect the importance of environment protection with the COVID-19 pandemic.

There are lots of pain and anxiety around us after the deadliest corona virus attack since the origin of human being on earth. But let us start the article with a positive note. Can we go back the time of few months ago? We could see peoples were dying of lung cancer due to severe air pollution level. People were dying due to asthma, Chronic pulmonary diseases. Were we able to see crystal clear blue skies or the chirping birds in our garden? The answer is definitely ‘NO’.

Yes, we are living in healthier natural environment in post Corona crisis. Air quality has been improved specially in metro cities and towns. The noise pollution in urban areas is under control and we can witness a drastic reduction in global carbon emissions. Water bodies are cleaner, migrant birds are moving freely, tortoises are reproducing in a safer place as the beaches are human free. The Corona virus has hit the reset button on environmental standards.

Now look at the time line

  • First case of Novel corona virus was detected in Wuhan, Hubei Province in China on 31st December,2019.
  • Central government of China started lockdown in Hubei province on 23rd January, 2020
  • First case of corona virus detected in India on 30 January, 2020 in Kerala.
  • World Health Organization declared the COVID -19 as “Pandemic” 11th March, 2020
  • Indian government announced 1stphase of lockdown on 24th March, 2020.

What can we learn from Taiwan?

Taiwan, officially the Republic of China, is a country just beside the Mainland China. However, Taiwan was successful in managing deadly Corona virus and saved their people and economy.
  • Taiwan established National Health Command Center (NHCC) after 2003 SARS outbreak. Taiwan’s National Health Command Center framed and implemented new technology and a comprehensive pandemic prevention plan.
  • Taiwan was quick to put travel restrictions from China and followed by other international flights.
  • Started thorough checking its ports and t used QR code scanning technology and online reporting of travel history and health symptoms to identify travelers.
  • Introduced stringent punishments for violation of Corona Virus guidelines across the country. They also launched aggressive testing around the country.
  • Taiwan Government was also very transparent in delivering health related issues, accurate data of infected and cured patients etc. That kept the entire socio-economic structure of Taiwan under Apple-pie-order and helped Taiwan to succeed.

What can we learn from the state Kerala in India?

  • Kerala was the first state in India to report a case of COVID-19 case of student who returned from Wuhan, China, on 30thJanuary.
  • Kerala started at Screening at all arrival points like airports, sea ports even points where people enter from other states.
  • Kerala declared COVID-19 a state-level disaster and put restriction on public gatherings and announced lockdowns in the first week of March.
  • Kerala deployed more than 30,000 well equipped, skilled health workers before the central government announced country wide lockdown.
  • Kerala started manufacturing PPE kits, face masks on large when other states are celebrating festivals and enjoying ‘Namaste Trump’. As an example, take Kudumbashree. It is a women’s self-help group which works at the ground level and, has helped the state’s containment strategy by producing two million masks and 5,000 litres of hand sanitizer in the first month of the national lockdown.
  • Kerala also put enough concentration to isolate the most vulnerable section of migrant workers. Migrant workers were provided free accommodation and regional food. They were instructed to follow the guidelines and instructions were delivered in migrants’ own languages.
  • Kerala has set a standard of decentralized governance, transparency, public trust, and governmental accountability. It is a clear lesson for the rest of India as well as other developed countries.

The threat of Zoonotic diseases

The threats of Zoonotic disease are not a new chapter. We have been experiencing from long ago. We encountered viruses H1N1, West Nile, Ebola, Zika. Such viruses are unpredictable which will eventually spark into the epidemic or pandemic cases.  Public health experts should come forward and make a comprehensive plan to combat such Zoonotic Infectious Diseases.

The relation of Zoonotic diseases with the deforestation

Most of the Zoonotic viruses have the origin like bats, pigs, Chimpanzees etc. Large scale of deforestation leaves these creatures shelter less thus they come forward into human living zone searching for shelter and food. Here comes the first boundary of interaction where human comes in contact with those creatures and serves as the passage of such deadly viruses.

The relation of Zoonotic diseases with the food habit

In many countries animals like bats snakes, bats, lizards, scorpions, cats and dogs and other wild animals are consumed as foods in various forms. Now look at China which is famous for its wildlife markets which is arguably the place where the ‘Patient Zero’ of deadly Corona Virus was spotted. Unlike other countries China also has a wildlife protection law but it is not enforced in ground level.

Steps taken by Government of India to protect the environment

  • It is enacted under India’s constitutional provision of Article 21, which assures the citizens of India the right to a healthy environment. The government of India has taken several steps and passed laws to protect the Environment over the time. Some are listed here.
  • India established National Action Plan on Climate Change in 2008 to combat Climate Change. NAPCC is working on promoting understanding of climate change, adaptation and mitigation, energy efficiency and natural resource conservation.
  • Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) was constituted to anticipate the environmental impacts that may occur due to the proposed developmental activities and suggest mitigation measures and strategies. Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) comes under the developmental projects, 1994 under the provisions of Environment (Protection) Act, 1986.
  • The Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981 was passed to control and prevent air pollution in India.
  • The Energy Conservation Act of 2001 was passed to improve energy efficiency.
  • Bureau of Energy Efficiency (BEE) was operationalized in 2002.
  • The National Green Tribunal Act, 2010. NGT facilitates fast track resolution of environmental cases and provides sustainable development measures.
  • Wildlife Protection Act, 1972 which regulates the trade of wild animals, animal products and judicially impose penalties for violating the Act.
  • Biological Diversity Act, 2002 which aims at regulating access to biological resources so as to ensure equal sharing of benefits from their use.

It is high time for the bureaucrats and governments to rethink on how humans and societies should interact with the environment and should primarily focused on how to sustain the environmental gain achieved during corona pandemic. 

Here are some initiatives the Government of India should focus on.

  • The shutdown of automobiles industries, factories, construction activity, public transport etc. during the lockdown period has improved the air quality. However, government should come forward with new policies with.
  • The pandemic has created an opportunity to policymakers to make India reliant on renewable energy sources. India should completely move for renewable energy production but it can only be implemented under a comprehensive and time-bound phased guideline.
  • The use of renewable or electric vehicles should be promoted in a stringent way.
  • IT companies should completely opt for ‘work from home’ option that will restrict employees from traveling from home to office on daily basis.
  • Governments should allocate more funds for the research and development of Zoonotic viruses such that we can understand and be well equipped before the next reemergence of Zoonotic infections. More virology laboratories with biosafety level-4 should be established in priority based.
In a conclusive note we can say that the COVID-19 pandemic has taught us a lesson i.e. Coexistence of human with nature. Nature is reclaiming it’s space through Corona Virus crisis. The death toll due to Corona virus has reminded us how we, humans has encroached the nature and taken over the earth, we have destroyed their habitats, killed animals, overused natural resources. We should know that we do not this planet, we share the world with lots of other living beings. There should be a cohabitation. We are destroying forests, polluting oceans, rivers, lakes and putting other animal life at stake. Let the corona virus pandemic leaves us a lesson -learn to ‘Co-exist’ or else the nature will find an extreme way to reclaim its space.
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