World Environment Day - Compassion International

World Environment Day
Environmental factors ranging from insect and water-borne illnesses to extreme weather conditions have widespread and far-reaching effects on the poor. Help ensure environmental conditions don't make poverty inescapable for children in the developing world.

Affecting Global Change

World Environment Day is held annually on June 5. It is an international day for raising awareness and taking action on urgent environmental issues.

Since it was first celebrated in 1974 World Environment Day has helped generate political momentum for the preservation and enhancement of the world’s environment. From marine pollution and desertification to sustainable consumption, wildlife crime and global disasters, World Environment Day is a global catalyst for public discourse on all aspects of the world’s environment.

UNEP and the Sustainable Development Goals

The United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) is the specialized agency within the United Nations (UN) system helping set the global environmental agenda. It was established by UN resolution in 1972 and acts as an authority and advocate for the environment within the global discussion on sustainable development.

The 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, adopted by the UN in 2015, contains the world's resolution "to ensure the lasting protection of the planet and its natural resources." UNEP helps work toward fulfilling the environmental dimension of the Agenda's 17 goals and 169 targets.

Some of the environmental success targets of the Sustainable Development Goals are:

  • Strengthen resilience and adaptive capacity to climate-related hazards and natural disasters in all countries
  • By 2030, increase substantially the share of renewable energy in the global energy mix
  • By 2030, achieve the sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources
  • By 2030, substantially reduce waste generation through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse
  • By 2020, protect and restore water-related ecosystems, including mountains, forests, wetlands, rivers, aquifers and lakes
  • By 2025, prevent and significantly reduce marine pollution of all kinds, in particular from land-based activities, including marine debris and nutrient pollution
  • By 2020, promote the implementation of sustainable management of all types of forests, halt deforestation, restore degraded forests and substantially increase afforestation and reforestation globally
  • By 2030, combat desertification, restore degraded land and soil, including land affected by desertification, drought and floods, and strive to achieve a land degradation-neutral world
  • By 2030, ensure the conservation of mountain ecosystems, including their biodiversity, in order to enhance their capacity to provide benefits that are essential for sustainable development

The Link Between the Environment and Poverty

We are intricately connected to our world. We receive food and water from it. It provides a livelihood for many, and it contributes to our prosperity and well-being. Our behavior affects our environment, which in turn affects our behavior.

In recent decades we have begun to better understand the intricate connection we have to our environment, that environmental sustainability is intertwined with social and economic sustainability and how this connection is particularly sharp for the poor.

Poverty often causes the poor to put pressure on their environment, and in turn the environment contributes to the suffering the poor endure. High mortality rates and insecurity in old age contribute to larger families. Overcrowded urban areas where millions of the poor live in slum conditions increase the risk of disease and violence. Limited access to sanitation and clean water lead to poor hygiene practices and more disease, which hinder the ability of the poor to work or attend school. And when nature strikes, the poor suffer disproportionately.

In 2015 the World Bank reported that nine percent of the world’s disaster events since 1980 occurred in low-income countries. But these countries experienced 48 percent of the deaths.

Damage to the environment increases the impact floods and other natural disasters have, and the poor bear the brunt. "Natural disasters" are as much a result of poor government, bad infrastructure, population density, and unequal living conditions as anything else. Poverty helps create a disaster.

In 2004, the Indian Ocean tsunami; killed 230,000 people. All of them were in lower middle-income countries (e.g., Indonesia, Sri Lanka, Thailand, India, etc.). In 2011, a similar magnitude earthquake spawned a tsunami that struck high income Japan. The waves were 30 feet taller than the Indian Ocean tsunami, but only 19,000 people died. Poverty was the difference in the death toll.

The 7.0 magnitude earthquake that struck Haiti in January 2010 killed 223,000 people. Equally forceful earthquakes hit Chile and New Zealand later that same year. Five hundred people died in Chile, and no deaths occurred in New Zealand. Poverty caused the difference.

Donate Disaster Relief Resources

Amid earthquakes, tsunamis, cyclones, volcanic eruptions, flooding, drought, wars and conflicts, donations to our disaster relief efforts have been used to:

  • Supply emergency food and water
  • Build or provide temporary shelters
  • Send emergency medical supplies
  • Organize treatment for injuries with local doctors
  • Provide for basic sanitation needs
  • Replace school supplies and household items
  • Provide counseling for children after traumatic events
  • Give comfort and hope through spiritual support

A donation in support of World Environment Day will help children in poverty recover physically, emotionally, and spiritually in the aftermath of a disaster.

A young Haitian boy carries a white buckets on his shoulder.
Get Facts and Stats About the Environment and Poverty:

a young girl stands along a polluted Caribbean shoreline

World Environment Day Themes
  • 2017: Connecting People to Nature – In the City and On the Land, From the Poles to the Equator
  • 2016: Zero Tolerance for the Illegal Wildlife Trade
  • 2015: Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.
  • 2014: Raise Your Voice, Not the Sea Level
  • 2013: Think. Eat. Save. Reduce Your Foodprint
  • 2012: Green Economy: Does It Include You?
  • 2011: Forests: Nature at your Service
  • 2010: Many Species. One Planet. One Future
  • 2009: Your Planet Needs You – Unite to Combat Climate Change
  • 2008: Kick The Habit – Towards A Low Carbon Economy
  • 2007: Melting Ice – a Hot Topic?
  • 2006: Deserts and Desertification – Don't Desert Drylands!
  • 2005: Green Cities – Plan for the Planet!
  • 2004: Wanted! Seas and Oceans – Dead or Alive?
  • 2003: Water – Two Billion People are Dying for It!
  • 2002: Give Earth a Chance
  • 2001: Connect with the World Wide Web of Life
  • 2000: The Environment Millennium – Time to Act
  • 1999: Our Earth – Our Future – Just Save It!
  • 1998: For Life on Earth – Save Our Seas
  • 1997: For Life on Earth
  • 1996: Our Earth, Our Habitat, Our Home
  • 1995: We the Peoples: United for the Global Environment
  • 1994: One Earth One Family
  • 1993: Poverty and the Environment – Breaking the Vicious Circle
  • 1992: Only One Earth, Care and Share
  • 1991: Climate Change. Need for Global Partnership
  • 1990: Children and the Environment
  • 1989: Global Warming; Global Warning
  • 1988: When People Put the Environment First, Development Will Last
  • 1987: Environment and Shelter: More Than A Roof
  • 1986: A Tree for Peace
  • 1985: Youth: Population and the Environment
  • 1984: Desertification
  • 1983: Managing and Disposing Hazardous Waste: Acid Rain and Energy
  • 1982: Ten Years After Stockholm
  • 1981: Ground Water; Toxic Chemicals in Human Food Chains
  • 1980: A New Challenge for the New Decade
  • 1979: Only One Future for Our Children
  • 1978: Development Without Destruction
  • 1977: Ozone Layer Environmental Concern; Lands Loss and Soil Degradation
  • 1976: Water: Vital Resource for Life
  • 1975: Human Settlements
  • 1974: Only One Earth

World Environment Day Prayers

Heavenly Father, you created the world and everything in it. You gave us dominion over your beautiful creation and its abundant resources. In the lives we lead and the choices we make, help us remember your creation is home to all life, both now and for future generations.

  • Pray for the safety and well-being of the millions of people affected by natural disasters each year.
  • Pray that we recognize and embrace opportunities to share the wealth of the world's environment with those in need and steward our natural resources well.
  • Pray that the governments of the world recognize the importance of the environment and take steps to care for it.
  • Pray for the wisdom to apply our technology in ways that help undo any damage to the environment we have caused.

Donate to Disaster Relief Today and provide resources when disasters strike


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