World Environment Day 2010:
Many Species. One Planet. One Future.

Debananda S Ningthoujam *


We, human beings, behave as if we own this lone blue planet. But we must not forget that we are just one of several million species on this planet, however important we consider ourselves to be. It is estimated that about 5-100 million species call Earth their home. Scientists have so far identified just 2 million species of organisms of our planet.

The interesting statistics is that it is just one species-Homo sapiens - whose population keeps soaring while that of most animals and plants keeps dwindling. It is crucial to remember this on this World Environment Day (WED) of 2010, which also happens to be the International Year of Biodiversity (IYB).

Realizing the importance of biodiversity for human welfare, UNEP has decided to reinforce the global efforts toward biodiversity conservation. This is clearly reflected in this year's WED theme.

Theme of WED 2010

The theme for WED 2010 is "Many species. One planet. One future." It is high time to remind ourselves that we are also an integral part of 'the web of life' and if we damage the web, we are putting our future in peril.

The themes in the past years were:

  • 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!
17,291 species are now threatened with imminent extinction. The more alarming fact is that many species are getting extinct before they are even discovered. Why biodiversity is being lost at an alarming rate? This may be caused by various factors but the major one is human activities involved in various developmental projects.

We have cleared substantial portions of original forests, drained half of the world's wetlands, depleted 75% of global fish stocks and emitted tons of greenhouse gases(GHGs) to warm up the planet to alarming levels. We have accelerated extinction of species by 1000 times of natural rates.

Why should we care?

Biodiversity is the variety of all life forms on the earth and it underpins human well-being and the very survival of human species. It gives us food, clothes, fuel, medicines, and various other goods and ecosystem services. The loss of just one strand(one species) of the web of life can have catastrophic effects which in turn can imperil human welfare.

Host City of WED 2010

The global host of the 2010 WED is Rwanda. This "land of a thousand hills" is home to the rare mountain gorilla and she is working to reforest, embrace renewable energies, promote sustainable agriculture, and develop a green vision for the future.

WED messages

Many eminent persons gave their messages in connection with WED 2010. Some selected ones are as follows:
UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon says, "our health, well being and sustainable future depends on this intricate, delicate web of ecosystem".
"If we lose nature, we lose ourselves", says Mohd Nasheed, President of the Republic of Maldives.
Maanee Lee, Environment Minister, Republic of Korea says "biodiversity loss is in serious danger, and we have not a minute to lose".
"it is high time that the one species with the power to make positive change recognize these fundamental facts", says UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner.

Environmental Challenges of 21st Century

UNEP has identified 6 environmental challenges of the 21st century. They are:
  • Climate change
  • Disasters and conflicts
  • Ecosystem management
  • Environmental governance
  • Harmful substances
  • Resource efficiency

At the global level we need to achieve a new paradigm shift in our environmental thinking, bridge the gap between science and policymaking, link livelihood security with poverty alleviation and developmental planning and eco-friendly infrastructural developments.

At the local level, we need to ensure sustainable health of the environment in Manipur. This will mean protection of our forests, saving our wetlands, reviving our dying rivers and lakes, preserving our soils and conserving our biodiversity. This in turn implies that our valley can only be preserved by protecting our hills and that Manipur's biological and cultural diversity can be safeguarded by ensuring sustainable livelihood of all communities who call Manipur their home.

Let us take a solemn pledge on this WED 2010 to concertedly protect our environment and conserve our biological (and cultural) diversity. Long live Manipur!

* Debananda S Ningthoujam wrote this for Hueiyen Lanpao (English Edition).
The author teaches biochemistry in Manipur University and researches on biodiversity and biotechnology areas esp. Microbial Biodiversity and Biotechnology. He also writes popular Science articles on Scientific Biography and Science, Environment & Biodiversity issues. This article was webcasted on June 13, 2010.

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