“There are no passengers on spaceship earth. We are all crew.” /Marshall McLuhan/
Celebrated on 5th June by millions of people all over the world, World Environment Day has been organized by the United Nations Environment Programme since 1974. This year the celebrations are hosted by Sweden and the 2022 slogan, “Only One Earth,” was chosen in commemoration of the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment which took place in 1972 in Stockholm. During the conference, marked by the same slogan, the Stockholm Declaration and Action Plan for the Human Environment was signed by 113 countries. This is the document that brought environmental issues to light, the one where you can read, “Man is both creature and moulder of his environment,” and so, “the protection and improvement of the human environment is a major issue which affects the well-being of peoples and economic development throughout the world; it is the urgent desire of the peoples of the whole world and the duty of all Governments.”
Having reached the point where the environment is threatened by the Triple Planetary Crisis consisting of climate change, biodiversity loss and pollution, however, we cannot just wait for our governments to take actions. On the contrary, all of us – individuals, have to act. We are all responsible for the condition of our planet, since, as Jane Goodall put it, “You cannot get through a single day without having an impact on the world around you. What you do makes a difference and you have to decide what kind of a difference you want to make.”
To help you decide what difference YOU can make the United Nations Environment Programme has shared #TheOnlyOneEarth Practical Guide to encourage everyone to make the right choices.
Borrowed from Our Children
A well-known Native American proverb says, “We do not inherit the Earth from our ancestors. We borrow it from our children.” Undoubtedly, it is our fundamental duty to handle the Earth with care but it is also our collective responsibility to educate the next generation now so that they are well prepared to take over. Realizing the importance of learning good environmental habits at an early age, Europeana Educators have prepared creative learning scenarios aimed at raising young people’s environmental awareness.
Among the ones tackling the problem of climate change you can find Climate Change Webquest, Earth’s Changing Climate, Climate Change – Just a Beginning, Take Aim at Climate Change or Adaptation to Climate Change with Technology. If you are searching for new classroom ideas connected with the issue of biodiversity and its loss, you should definitely try the Biodiversity learning scenario, Biodiversity Explorers, Exploring Species’ Habitats or Coral reef today, yesterday and … tomorrow. Two great Europeana resources regarding the human impact on the environment, namely The Human Crisis and the Three Es and Green Through Time, constitute the basis of Ecology: a Tool to Re-invent the Future lesson proposal. Another interesting scenario that promotes the idea of living in harmony with nature is It’s Time to Change!
My home is my castle???
Definitely, the saying does not refer to the Earth. There is neither room nor time for selfishness. We have to bear in mind we are not the sole owners of the Earth and the future generations have the right to it as well. If still in doubt, ask yourself the question raised by Henry David Thoreau, “What’s the use of a fine house if you haven’t got a tolerable planet to put it on?
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By Katarzyna Siwczak, Europeana Education Ambassador