World Environment Day puts biodiversity in focus

Celebrated every year on June 5, World Environment Day is the United Nations’ biggest annual event advocating for environmental action and raising worldwide awareness of the need to protect our planet. Since the first World Environment Day in 1974, the event has grown to become a global platform for public outreach on the environment in over 100 countries.

This year, Colombia will host World Environment Day, with events being streamed live online from Bogotá; in addition, there will be online events and celebrations across the world.

Biodiversity The theme of World Environment Day 2020 is biodiversity; the campaign – “Time for Nature” – is a call to action to combat the accelerating species loss and degradation of the natural world. The day will also draw attention to the links between human health and planetary health.

With our ever-increasing demands, humans have pushed nature beyond its limits. In the last 50 years, the human population has doubled; the global economy and trade have grown nearly fourfold and tenfold, respectively.

The emergence of COVID-19 has underscored the fact that, when we destroy biodiversity, we destroy the very system that supports human life. By upsetting the delicate balance of nature, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens–including coronaviruses–to spread.

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) stands in solidarity with the billions of people around the world that are suffering the impact of the global pandemic of COVID-19. The immediate priority at this time is to protect people by limiting the spread of COVID-19.

As countries re-open and governments approve stimulus packages to support job creation, poverty reduction, development and economic growth, it will be important to “build back better”, capturing opportunities for leap-frogging to green investments, such as renewable energy, smart housing, green public procurement, public transport, — all guided by the principles and standards of sustainable production and consumption. Poorly coordinated policies risk locking in — or even worsening — already unsustainable inequalities, reversing hard-won development gains and poverty reduction.

By radically altering our relationship with nature, we have the opportunity to prevent future pandemics and work for a healthier, more sustainable planet that works for everyone, everywhere.

Events to watch out for on the UNEP website ( and social media platforms:

Colombia time (GMT -5)

Starting at 7:30 a.m., events organized by host country Colombia will kick off with a live conversation between:

  • President of the Republic of Colombia Iván Duque Márquez,
  • Minister of Environment and Sustainable Development of Colombia Ricardo Lozano,
  • UNEP Executive Director Inger Andersen,
  • Inter-American Development Bank President Luis Alberto Moreno,
  • Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum Klaus Schwab,
  • Former Executive Secretary of the UN Framework on Climate Change Christiana Figueres, and
  • President and CEO of the World Resources Institute Andrew Steer.

There will be other invited special guests and a message from Secretary General of the United Nations António Guterres.

Starting at 9 a.m., a number of panel sessions will be aired on these themes:

  • Conservation of the Amazon,
  • Sustainable use of biodiversity, green business and the COVID-19 pandemic,
  • Air quality and health,
  • Climate change
  • Cities, and
  • The circular economy.

Panel participants will include speakers from C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group, Climate and Clean Air Coalition, Conservation International, Ellen MacArthur Foundation, European Union, the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), World Wildlife Fund, Pan American Health Organisation, the Secretariat of the Convention on Biodiversity, UNEP, the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and more.