On Sunday, the 5th of June, the world celebrated World Environmental Day with focus on the illegal trade of wildlife.

United Nations Agency, United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) used the avenue presented by this year’s celebration to call on everyone to “go wild for life” and “take action to help safeguard species under threat for future generations.”

According to UNEP Executive Director, Achim Steiner the theme was chosen due to wildlife trade which has become so serious and so far reaching that urgent action is needed to reverse it.

He underlined the effects of wildlife trade thus:

– Destruction of natural capital in which many nations could build healthy tourism industries;

– The spread of corruption and the undermining of the rule of law all around the world;

– The “fattening of purses” of the international crime syndicates.

He added that “this must stop and the time to take action is long overdue.” He called on individuals from all spheres of life to help end the illegal trade in wildlife by engaging in the “Go Wild for Life” campaign.

According to a statement on the United Nations website, the aim of the campaign is to reduce the demand for illegal wildlife products.

The campaign stresses that greed, fashion, ignorance, indifference, investment, corruption, pseudo medicinal use and cultural belief should not be allowed to endanger any species of animal or plant or tree.

The campaign places special attention on orangutans, sea turtles, pangolins, rosewoods, helmeted hornbills, tigers, elephants and rhinos.

Angola was this year’s host country for World Environment Day. It made strong commitments to combat wildlife crime by shutting down its domestic ivory trade and taking action to stop smuggling over its borders.

“We support the actions of countries like Angola to join this fight,” he said. “We must be united in this cause, we must think globally, but also act locally, and we must have zero tolerance for poaching and illegal trade in wildlife.”

The UN has underlined 5 quick steps citizens can take to be involved in the movement. These steps are through arts and crafts exhibitions, film festivals, flash mobs and social media activities.

World Environment Day (WED) is celebrated across the globe every 5th of June. The objective of the event is to raise awareness about the leading issue of the sustainability of our environment.

It was initiated in 1973 by the United Nations General Assembly and UNEP to address colossal issues like global warming, deforestation and food shortages among many others.

Author: Ope Adedeji