Happy International Earth Day my fellow earthlings! Here at The International Center we are all about bringing people from different backgrounds together, and I would say there is almost no better reason to come together then to promote the concept of peace and to celebrate this beautiful planet.
The official International Earth Day is April 22. However Earth Day festivities take place around the world all week. This week over 500 million people in more than 192 countries will participate in Earth day events. This makes Earth Day the largest secular observance in the world, celebrated by people from all different faiths, nationalities, and backgrounds.
First established in 1970, Earth Day’s creation the United States also marked the beginning of the modern environmental movement. Over the past 46 years, international leaders and citizens have come together on this day to celebrate and advocate for environmental actions. In 1990, Earth Day was designated an official international holiday and was celebrated in 142 different countries.
Since its creation, Earth Day celebrations have taken many different forms all around the world. However, Earth Day events celebrated by people of different cultures and by people on different continents do have many of the same general themes: informing the public about environmental concerns, educating the public on how these concerns can be addressed, and advocating for the actions that need to be taken to make all our daily lives more environmentally friendly.
How do people around the world celebrate such an important day?
In the United States there is a National Park Week which is not coincidentally during the week of Earth Day. During this week, over four-hundred national parks hold special events and Earth Day celebrations. In Thailand, over one-hundred thousand Buddhist monks gather at the World Dhammakaya Centre to promote the message of spreading world peace through inner peace. In Canada, museums, parks, and schools offer programs to support citizens in becoming more eco-friendly in their daily lives. These programs consist of anything from festivals to recycling awareness seminars. In Monaco, an annual Earth Day Swim raises money to help support environmental causes. In Spain, they have a Fair for the Earth (Fira per La Terraz), which is a two day fair the weekend before Earth Day. The fair promotes eco-friendly activates and products.
Participation in Earth Day activities exemplifies how we treat the earth as important to people all over the world, and is seen as a universal reason to unite under a common cause. In the past, people have even used participation in Earth Day events as a tool to signify the importance of environmental actions and advocacy to their leaders. For instance, people claim that the monumental number of people participating in the 1992 Earth Day events influenced their world leaders to attend the first United Nations Earth Summit held in 1992.
This year on Earth Day the Paris Agreement, which is an additional requirement to be signed for the Climate Protection Treaty to be entered into force, is scheduled to be signed by the US, China and around 120 other countries. The Climate Protection Treaty is a consensus of requirements focused on reducing global warming adopted by the 195 nations present at the 2015 United Nations Climate Change Conference in Paris. This plan is said to be a historic turning point in the global goal of reducing climate change!
There are many ways to honor Earth and the concept of peace! So today, take a walk outside and appreciate some natural beauty, attend a local Earth Day event, or even plant a tree!
By: Andrea Middleton, Protocol Intern, The International Center