Environment Day, everyday, experts say

Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT
Illustration: Ratna Sagar Shrestha/THT

KATHMANDU: With the increasing repercussions of human activities on the environment, people have started to understand that negative impacts on environment would eventually backfire and overwhelm human lives. This awareness coupled with human tendency to protect what is their own has made World Environment Day a global initiative where individuals and groups come together to raise awareness and implement programmes in an attempt to reverse the ill-effects on environment and conserve it.

Nepal is no exception to this. Marking the World Environment Day today, Prime Minister KP Sharma Oli has said that it is our responsibility to hand over a clean environment to the coming generations, to receive which, is their right. He added that it required expediting development and construction works to maintain social, economic and environmental balances.

As Nepal, especially Kathmandu Valley, is being engulfed in pollution and the consequences have befallen its citizens, the focus on environment conservation has multiplied. Individuals, groups and organisations have all been drawing attention of authorities and government bodies to take immediate measures to counteract pollution and other negative impacts on the environment.

On the occasion of the World Environment Day today, the government has planned to endorse a mega-campaign to make Nepal clean, which would not limit environmental protection initiatives to just one day, but carry them all year long, according to Information Officer at the Department of Environment, Shankar Prasad Poudel.

The Ministry of Forests and Environment of the Government of Nepal has also publicised "Beat Plastic Pollution: If you can't reuse it, refuse it" as the slogan for this year's environment day, in its attempt to spread awareness and curb the negative effects of plastic on the environment.

On a similar note, United Nations Secretary-General António Guterres said in his message for World Environment Day today that the world must unite to “beat plastic pollution”, noting that microplastic particles in the ocean, “now outnumber stars in our galaxy”. As stated by the United Nations, Secretary-General Guterres in his message, said a healthy planet was essential for a prosperous and peaceful future, spelling out that “We all have a role to play in protecting our only home”.

He informed that the world today was swamped by harmful plastic waste, and that every year, more than eight million tonnes ended up in the oceans. Pointing out the astonishing comparison between stars in the cosmos and ocean plastics, Guterres underscored that “from remote islands, to the Artic, nowhere is untouched”, as stated by the United Nations.

He further said that if the present trends continued, by 2050 our oceans would have more plastic than fish. “Refuse what you can’t re-use,” he asserted and concluded by saying, “Together, we can chart a path to a cleaner, greener world.”

"Government and public must both go hand in hand in protecting the environment we live in"

In the same context, THT Online also talked to Rejina Maskey Byanju — Professor and Head of Department of Environmental Science at the Institute of Science and Technology, Tribhuvan University.

Professor Byanju said, being aware about environment and its conservation was not just a matter of one day, but this had to be addressed all year long. She said, the theme of this year's environment day was to beat plastic pollution, adding that it is a good practice to observe this day, "It creates awareness among people; those who specifically work for environmental causes would remember the need to address environmental issues, however, days like this will remind everyone else the importance of environment protection."

On the same note, Byanju said that the Ministry of Environment had also planned on carrying out year-long activities that would benefit the environment, which would be endorsed today.

In response to the question as to how much education sector was contributing to take care of the environment, Byanju said, with conviction, that most work related to environmental conservation had been carried out by the education sector. She said the students of environmental studies have been conducting numerous researches about climate change, pollution among other environmental factors, and the information and statistics generated by such research have been pivotal in carrying out activities of environment protection.

She went on to add that such research were scientific, which could prove significant in the development of environment related policies, and that government could utilise them to prepare their plan of action towards environment conservation. Byanju said that there has been certain level of collaboration with the government to this effect so far, however, much more could be done in this area. If the ministry would give them this platform, the situation could be tackled better.

Likewise, Byanju said that government and public must both go hand in hand in protecting the environment we live in. She opined that individuals should not only be dependent on the government to carry out environment related initiatives. They should do their part by preventing pollution at micro level. She gave the examples of carrying out timely servicing of private vehicles and not throwing or burning garbage.

Similarly, she said, the government must carry out developmental works by minimising pollution as best as they can. Additionally, she addressed the issue of management of heavy vehicles such as trucks and buses as they have maximum contribution in air pollution.

Byanju said that her message to the public today would be to play their part in reducing pollution and protecting environment, and that small steps would go a long way.