June 4, 2014
Barbados Utilizes World Environment Day To Inspire Developing Island Nations To Focus On Green Technology
Lawrence LeBlond for redOrbit.com - Your Universe Online
Each year on June 5th we celebrate World Environment Day (WED). It is on this day that we should take time to focus on making some positive contribution for the environment’s sake, as we need to preserve planet Earth not just for present life, but also for the generations of people, animals and plants that follow.
As part of WED, each year the global event is hosted by a specific country that is at the forefront of environmental innovation. In 2013, that country was Mongolia, a country that was leading the push for a greener economy and civilization. This year, WED 2014 is being hosted by the small Caribbean island state of Barbados, which is leading the way in solar energy.
Barbados, which is at the cutting edge of the fight against a changing climate, has become the first Small Island Developing State (SIDS) to host the annual World Environment Day. As such, the theme for this year’s WED, which is organized by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), is “Small Island Developing States and Climate Change,” and the official slogan is “Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level.”
As one of the smallest independent states in the world, Barbados faces many challenges like climate-induced sea level rise and vulnerability to natural disasters. The country is faithfully facing these challenges head on and working to overcome them through its work in transitioning to a green economy.
In celebration of WED 2014, Barbados’ goal is “to be heard loudly and clearly, maintaining the place of Barbados firmly in the mainstream of the discourse and action on the future of Small Island Developing States,” Prime Minister Freundel Stuart said in a statement.
Highlights of WED 2014 for Barbados includes a week-long celebration that lasts from June 1 through the 7th, with residents being urged to celebrate by making a pledge for the cause. The Barbados government has 21 pledges that its participating citizens can choose from, including: buying local products, using reusable bags for shopping, using less packaging, carpooling, and more.
The country has already hosted an event on June 2, launching a fruit tree planting initiative in area schools, themed at “Promoting Food Security, Biodiversity and Climate Responsibility.” A coastal tour also kicked off on June 3, with discussion of coastal adaptation efforts being the key focus. On June 4 The Bellairs Research Institute focused on coral reef conservation and climate adaptation research.
Although WED activities take place throughout the whole week, the main event will be on June 5, with celebrations highlighting the global importance of protecting the environment, and the government encouraging Barbadians to wear green throughout the day.
World leaders will gather at Independence Square in the capital of Bridgetown, for an environmental celebration. A global conference will also see environmentalists and leaders from governmental and non-governmental organizations lay out plans for positive environmental action to protect nature and our planet Earth.
The celebratory week will close at Consett Bay, the site of a UNEP-University of West Indies project on Sustainable Resource Management.
Barbados is not the only island nation threatened by climate change. All coastal communities are threatened by the changing environment and it’s time for people to act by doing something positive for the environment.
While there are many challenges small islands face, climate change is definitely the central challenge, more significant than waste management, natural resource degradation, unsustainable consumption and extreme disasters. Many of these Small Island Developing States are facing a host of risks related to climate change, including temperature and sea-level rise that will undoubtedly threaten the way of life for such nations, as pointed out to ZEE News by UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.
Many of these small islands are in danger of being wiped out by sea-level rise. If IPCC reports are accurate, global sea levels are rising at an alarming rate and are projected to dramatically increase within this century.
While the threats are significant, many of these Small Island Developing States have been successful in the fight against environmental issues by focusing on innovative green societies.
Because Barbados is highly vulnerable to the effects of climate change, including impacts on its agriculture and destruction of its coastal ecosystem, it makes sense to initiate the nation as the host of WED 2014, especially since the country has taken big steps in fighting climate change head on.
The country has worked to dramatically reduce its climate consequence and to provide clean, renewable energy and opportunities for green economic growth to its people. It has also pledged to increase its share of renewable energy across the island to 29 percent of all electricity consumption by 2029, cutting total electricity costs by about $283.5 million (US) and reducing CO2 emissions by 4.5 million metric tons, reports ZEE News.
First celebrated in 1973, World Environment Day has grown to become one of the main vehicles through which the United Nations encourages positive action for Earth’s precious environment.
WED engages millions of people around the world through events in more than 100 countries, with the hosted country at the forefront of such activities. But WED is not just about one day -- the events that occur on and around June 5 are but a small part of a continuing effort to bring global attention to the environment and what must be done to protect Mother Earth.
“Our objectives are to help build momentum towards the third International Conference on SIDS in September and encourage a greater understanding of the importance of SIDS and of the urgency to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerabilities, particularly as a result of climate change,” UNEP said in a statement, as cited by Blue&Green Tomorrow.
“We believe WED will be an excellent opportunity to raise a call for solidarity with the islands,” it added.
“On World Environment Day, we raise the collective voices of SIDS, once again, in calling for stronger and more concrete political action and solutions to enable us to realize a future not only of resilience, but also of prosperity for our island nations. For, given the interconnectedness of the planet, our prosperity is also that of our neighbors in the developed and developing world,” said Barbados Prime Minister Stuart in a statement.
“Barbados will proudly show the world our commitment to this process as a nation,” he added.