World Environment Day, June 5: Future of the Planet Lies in Our Own Hands

Jun 5, 2014

The marking of World Environment Day on June 5 is a way to raise awareness about the importance of environmental protection, so as to mobilise as many people as possible and to undertake concrete measures and activities.

Today we mark this day in Bosnia and Herzegovina in the midst of the disastrous aftermath of a natural disaster, one that affected half of the country’s municipalities and nearly 1 million people. This disaster could not have been avoided, yet the consequences could have been less severe.

The need to include environmental issues among the pressing issues of today cannot be stressed enough. Disasters, such as the one that struck Bosnia, Croatia and Serbia three weeks ago, are becoming increasingly frequent. Human lives were lost and extreme damages caused. Global warming, climate change, pollution and the loss of forests and clean water, are but a few of the alarming environmental problems of our times, problems that directly impact and affect us all.

Rehabilitation in the aftermath of this latest disaster clearly calls on us to change our ways and turn towards a greener future. Through the activities of its Energy and Environment Sector, United Nations Development Programme in Bosnia and Herzegovina (UNDP) is raising awareness about interdependence between environment and development and the importance of environment friendly economic development. The objective of UNDP's activities is to fundamentally change the approach to environment and resources, especially abundant water resources in Bosnia and Herzegovina, and to focus more attention on the creation of jobs in the so-called ‘green sector’, development of said sector and the use of alternative energy sources.

Recent floods testify to the need of a shift in paradigm and a change in our relations towards the environment, as well as the importance embracing alternative solutions and greener energy sources. As we know, the floods have affected the inhabitants living in city outskirts most severely, leaving them cut off due to poor accessibility. In these situations, alternative energy sources would significantly assist those in affected areas to overcome difficult circumstances.

The climate is changing. Forests are disappearing. Food and water are increasingly polluted. Some disasters cannot be avoided, but the damage can be reduced. The human factor and negative impacts can be corrected. The question – increasingly urgent – is whether we are changing sufficiently quickly as a society and adapting to new conditions.

By making the right choices and embracing green solutions, we minimise potential damage and advance sustainable progress and development of the country. The future (both good and bad) is in our hands; the question remains what we choose for ourselves and our children.

Deeply aware of the impact of our operations on the environment, UNDP strives through its activities to minimise negative impacts on the environment in order to achieve climate-neutral businesses.

World Environment Day is yet another reminder of the duties and responsibilities that we all bear. It is time to stop destroying forests at a rate equivalent to a football field disappearing every second, to suspend chemical contamination of food and water, to minimise CO2 emissions and fossil fuel use. Instead, it is time to turn to green solutions, plant and animal protection and preservation of the environment.