Millions of plant and animal species throughout the planet are at risk of extinction, mainly because of a loss of natural habitats. Namely, on the occasion of the World Environment Day on June 5, the UN team in Serbia stated that only a quarter of the planet remains intact and safe for the species that inhabit it.
As a result of the devastation of forests and natural habitats, pathogens are spreading from their natural habitats and animal species to a new host – humans. Therefore, as mentioned in the statement, the motto of this year’s World Environment Day is “It’s time for nature!”
It was also pointed out that the ongoing coronavirus crisis had emphasized the causal relationship between the health of our planet and our own health.
“We must invest more time and energy into developing a new strategy of natural resource management. During the period of isolation and quarantine, there was a sharp decrease in air and water pollution, as well as in the amount of greenhouse gasses all over the world. This temporary change has proved that things can indeed improve”, stated Ms. Françoise Jacob, UN resident coordinator in Serbia.
She added that certain technological solutions can direct the economy toward nature and enable the creation of new workplaces.
“We must change the way we produce energy on the global level, as well as our consumption models, agricultural practices, transportation and investment plans. All of this is feasible and is a joint responsibility of political leaders, big entrepreneurs and citizens in general”, said Ms. Jacob.
In the latest report of the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), it is stated that current negative trends regarding the biodiversity of ecosystems jeopardize the progress toward 80 sustainable development sub-goals concerning poverty, hunger, health, sustainable production and consumption, water, cities, the climate, oceans and soil.
The value of the benefits of natural resources to humans is about 125–140 billion American dollars a year, which equals one and a half global GDP.
UN representatives also pointed out the fact that, as the population of our planet is approaching the number of 10 million, everyone must “embrace the possibilities and values of natural resources instead of acting against them.”
It was mentioned that Serbia is one of six European biodiversity centers, inhabited by 43.3 % of plant and animal species that can be encountered throughout Europe.
According to the UN Biodiversity Convention, ratified in 2002, Serbia must place 17 % of its territory under protection.
Concerning the achieved progress in the area, in the last few years, it was mentioned that, in 2017, Bačko Podunavlje Reserve was included in the UNESCO World Network of Biosphere Reserves, and the Đerdap National Park became the first area in Serbia nominated to become a part of the UNESCO Global Geoparks Network.
However, further improvement of sustainable management of natural resources and the establishment of environmental protection networks, such as NATURA 2000, is necessary.
The UN recently declared the Decade of Ecosystem Restoration 2021–2030, which represents a unique opportunity to increase efforts to restore natural resources and fight against climate change within the Agenda 2030 and Sustainable Development Goals, while simultaneously creating new workplaces.
As stated, UNICEF and UNEP invited young people from Serbia to share their opinions and experiences on important environmental issues via the U-Report platform administered by UNICEF to be able to include their attitudes and suggestions into various programs and strategic plans.
Almost a half of the young people who took part in the survey said that environmental protection is primarily the responsibility of individuals, whereas a third claimed that the state had the main role in this undertaking.
According to the opinion of the surveyed individuals, the youth should have better access to information regarding pollution and issues related to deforestation and destruction of natural habitats of plant and animal species.
According to the opinion of the surveyed people, the youth should have better access to information regarding pollution and issues related to deforestation and destruction of natural habitats of plant and animal species.
When it comes to the measures that should be taken to preserve the nature, 22% of the surveyed young people believe that nature would be restored by itself under the right conditions, 21% claim that production and consumption should be more environmentally conscious, 20% are in favor of a stricter legal framework and 18% support a wider application of renewable energy sources.
The UN claim that, since 1974, when the World Environment Day was first celebrated, it has gradually turned into a global platform for spreading awareness and taking actions on urgent matters, ranging from sea pollution and global warming to sustainable consumption and illegal wild animal trade.
Over the years, millions of people have taken part in celebrating this important day, which has contributed to changing consumer habits and improving national and international environmental policies.