International Mother Earth Day: Grassroots to global action

The United Nations Secretary General urged everyone to accelerate climate action and implement the UN Biodiversity Agreement to ensure that 30% of the earth’s land and water are protected by 2030. On Mother Earth Day April 22, the UN Secretary-General urges “people everywhere to raise your voices and demand leaders make peace with nature.” PHOTO: a representative photo on Simon Holder/Adobe Stock

समुद्र वसने देवी पर्वत स्तन मंडले

विष्णुपत्नी नमस्तुभ्यं पादस्पर्शं क्षमस्व मे

Samudra Vasane Devi Parvat Stan Mandale

Vishnupatni Namastubhyam Paadsparsham Kshmasva me.

This is a prayer to the Goddess Earth- With oceans as your attire, and the mountains as your bosom,  O wife of God Vishnu, I bow to you. Please forgive me for stepping on you.

The prayer is full of respect for Earth or Bhumi Devi. And, she is the wife of God Vishnu, the Sustainer of the Hindu Trinity.

Ancient Indians seemed to have known the importance of Earth, nature and environment and showed great respect for them all. For centuries, we have been harming Earth with pollution and overuse. Now we need to work in harmony with nature and Earth, and create a more sustainable economy which works for the people and the planet. The Earth Day is celebrated every year on April 22nd as part of our effort to restore Earth.

The U.N. General Assembly designated 22 April as International Mother Earth Day in a resolution in 2009.  The U.N. also celebrates the World Environment Day on June 5. The U.N. organized the first Earth Summit, in 1992 at Rio de Janeiro, to discuss sustainable development at which more than 178 countries adopted the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests.

U.N. efforts to conserve the environment have grown over the years. Some of these include the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, the declaration of 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth, the UN official Mother Earth Day Declaration, Rio+20, and the Climate Action Summit 2019 and COP25, the last two focusing on the achievement of the Paris Agreement.

Long before the U.N. declaration in 2009, the Earth Day was founded in the U.S. in 1970 as a day of education about environmental issues. Senator Gaylord Nelson began Earth Day as a “national teach-in on the environment” holding it on April 22. By raising public awareness of pollution, Nelson hoped to bring environmental causes into the national spotlight. It was a great success. By the end of the year, the U.S. government had created the Environmental Protection Agency and made way for The Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act. By 1990, more than 140 countries celebrated the Earth Day.

Now, more than 193 countries celebrate the Earth Day, by empowering local communities, students, and governments to create a positive change for the planet. Each country celebrates Earth Day differently. In some countries employees bike to work instead of driving while some hold tree planting or community gardening events. The U.N. celebrates Earth Day through the Harmony with Nature initiative, a platform for global sustainable development that celebrates annually an interactive dialogue on International Mother Earth Day.

The UN suggests ten impactful actions to help the environment at the indivicual level. “Start with these ten actions to help tackle the climate crisis,” says UN. PHOTO:

Earthday Organization is the global organizer of Earth Day and the largest recruiter of the environmental movement worldwide. This year, it launched the ‘Earth Week’(April 14-April 22, 2023) in honor of this year’s theme, ‘Invest in Our Planet’. The organization’s Network collaborates with more than 17,000 partners and organizations in 174 countries, and more than 1 billion people are involved in Earth Day activities, making it the largest secular civic event in the world.

In the U.S., Earth Day is celebrated with rallies, protests and marches to protect the environment. Training sessions and educational teach-ins are also organized and awareness workshops,  conferences, protests and meetings are organized. In Canada, Earth Day is celebrated with a ceremonial tree planting at McMaster University in Ontario. Educational talks, fundraisers and sustainability focused activities are also organized.

Individuals can participate in Earth Day in many small ways, such as using a bike or walking, carpooling or taking public transportation, choosing an energy efficient vehicle or making fewer trips, going easy on the breaks and gas, using cruise control, and keeping the car well-maintained. One can also decrease water waste by turning off water while brushing teeth, repairing leaky faucets and replacing old equipment like toilets and dishwashers when possible, running full loads of laundry and dishes, and collecting rainwater to use in your garden. Reusing and recycling containers, clothing and cloth grocery bags, and donating clothes are also other steps which can help.



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