(Photo: UN Environment Multimedia Assets)
International days are very powerful to help raise awareness over an issue, event, or idea. Being internationally celebrated means the participation of dozens to hundreds of nations all across the globe. And hundreds, thousands, even millions of people will join the cause, talk about it, and act on it.
Anyone can simply categorize all of the existing international days to for example the ‘women’, the ‘youth’, or the ‘human rights’ category. But, how about on environmental awareness and healthy lifestyle category? Are they have been covered enough? Or we need the UN to designate them more?
The answer is, yes. We still don’t have it all covered, at least for every month. Unlisted international days doesn’t mean they have nothing to do with the topics because we still could relate one to the other. Also, not all of these dates are celebrated and organized massively enough for the public to at least being aware of its existence. So, here is the list of international days and months on environmental awareness and healthy lifestyle.
February 2: World Wetlands Day
The World Wetlands Day is celebrated to raise awareness on the value of wetlands and the benefits of its conservation for humans and the planet. It allows government agencies, NGOs, and groups of citizens to undertake action needed.
It was celebrated for the first time in 1997.
In the 2019 World Wetlands Day, the theme is “Wetlands and Climate Change.”
For the 2020 World Wetlands Day, the theme is “Wetlands and Biodiversity.” It’s about why wetland biodiversity matters. How it matters for clean water, water supply, food supply, storm protection, jobs, tourism, the climate, and the planet.
March 21: International Day of Forests
The International Day of Forests (IDF) is celebrated to raise awareness on the importance of all types of forests to people and their role in environmental sustainability and food security. Activities include tree-planting campaigns, art, film, photo, and social media outreach in the community-level and national-level.
The IDF was observed first in 2013. In the 2019 International Day of Forests, the theme is “Forests and Education.” It is to raise awareness on how the sustainable management of forests could provide a wide array of impacts. For the 2020 International Day of Forests, the theme is “Forests and Biodiversity.”
March 22: World Water Day
The World Water Day is celebrated to highlights and advocate the importance of freshwater and sustainable management of freshwater resources. Its celebration varies worldwide from educational to musical. The main focus of World Water Day is WASH (water, sanitation, and hygiene) and it’s aligned with the targets of Sustainable Development Goal 6. The first World Water Day was designed by the UN in 1993.
In the 2019 World Water Day, the theme is “Leaving no one behind.” It encourages people to consider the accessibility of safe water for marginalized groups.
Each year, a report called the UN World Water Development Report (WWDR) is released around World Water Day. For the 2020 World Water Day, the campaign will be launched soon.
March 23: World Meteorological Day
The World Meteorological Day is celebrated to commemorate the establishment of the World Meteorological Organization (WMO) on 23 March 1950. On this occasion, many different events and activities are organized in all member countries. Some events are for meteorological professionals, community leaders, and the general public. Some are for attracting the media’s attention.
The chosen themes reflect tropical weather, climate or water-related issues. In the 2019 World Meteorological Day, the theme is “The Sun, the Earth, and the Weather.” For the 2020 World Meteorological Day, the theme is not yet announced.
April 22: Earth Day
The Earth Day is celebrated to show support for environmental protection. It’s to educate and mobilize more people to join the collective movements for our global environment. The activities such as Great Global CleanUp, Advocacy, Volunteering, Citizen Science, and much more.
It was first celebrated in 1970. Now, its events are coordinated globally by the Earth Day Network with around 75,000 partners in over 193 countries and 1 billion individuals have already mobilized on the cause.
The 2020 Earth Day marks the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. It will be the moment for us as a citizen of the planet to rise in a united call for tackling the climate crisis and towards a zero-carbon future.
April 22: International Mother Earth Day
The International Mother Earth Day is celebrated to remind us that the Earth and its ecosystems have been providing us life and sustenance and it’s our collective responsibility to be in harmony with nature by achieving a balance between how much we take and how much we give to the planet. Not taking it for granted.
The 2019 Mother Earth Day focuses on climate change and education. Learning and having knowledge about the causes and impacts of climate change are important to enable citizens to contribute to local and global efforts to meet the challenge of climate and sustainable development.
June 3: World Bicycle Day
The World Bicycle Day is celebrated to recognize and promote the many positives impacts bicycle have. It’s simple, affordable, reliable, and versatile. The bicycle also promotes respect, tolerance, and mutual understanding. It was just recently declared in 2018 by the UN.
Concerning lifestyle and the environment, bicycle is promoted in a healthy lifestyle for strengthening physical and mental health as well as well-being, and also preventing diseases happen or getting worse like diabetes and others. It’s also a clean and environmentally fit sustainable means of transportation.
June 5: World Environment Day
The World Environment Day is celebrated to encourage worldwide awareness and action to protect and improve our environment. To take care of the Earth. It can be local, national, or global. It also can be a solo action or involving a crowd. It began in 1974.
Now, it has grown to become a global platform for public awareness that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries. Millions of people have taken part in more than 6,000 registered activities across the globe organized by thousand of cities, schools, NGOs, business, and groups. Countless pledges and commitments have been made by individuals, business, and communities.
In the 2019 World Environmental Day, the theme is “Beat Air Pollution” and hosted by China. Around 205 events organized around the world. For the 2020 World Environmental Day, the theme hasn’t been announced yet but it said it will be focused on biodiversity. The host country will be Colombia in partnership with Germany.
June 8: World Oceans Day
The World Oceans Day is celebrated to raise global awareness of our duty to use and protect the ocean resources sustainably for future generations. It first declared in 1992. Then, Its promotion leads by The Ocean Project in partnership with leading organizations from all sectors since 2002. And in 2008, it’s firstly recognized by the UN.
In the 2019 World Oceans Day, the theme is “Gender and the Ocean.” Its main focus to empower global participation, activate youth, tackle plastic pollution, and inspire corporate engagement. More than 2000 events in 140 countries were held by millions of people especially youth. For the 2020 World Oceans Day, the theme is “Innovation for a Sustainable Ocean.”
June 15: Global Wind Day
The Global Wind Day is celebrated to promote the discovering of wind energy, its power to reshape the world’s energy systems, to decarbonize the industry, and to creates jobs. It’s organized by WindEurope and Global Wind Energy Council (GWEC).
In 2011, events were organized in 30 countries. Events and activities such as information campaigns, wind workshops, wind parade, and visits to onshore and offshore wind farms. In 2012, 250 events were organized around the globe. In the commemoration of the 2019 Global Wind Day, international photo competition “Future Wind” was held and it received over 600 photos from more than 50 countries.
June 17: World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought
The World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought (WDCD) is celebrated to promote public awareness of international efforts to combat desertification. It’s also to achieve land-degradation neutrality through cooperation and involvement at all levels for solving the problem.
In the 2019 WDCD, the theme is “Let’s Grow the Future Together.” It also celebrates the 25th anniversary of the UN Convention to Combat Desertification. Marking the 25 years of progress made by countries on sustainable land management. For the 2020 WDCD, the theme is not yet announced.
June 22: World Rainforest Day
The World Rainforest Day is celebrated to raise awareness to protect the world’s rainforests to stabilize our changing climate and encourage action in tackling the existing issues. Rainforests are very important for every life on Earth. It supplies 20% of the oxygen we breathe and the freshwater we drink. But, in 2017, we’ve lost them in the rate of 40 football fields worth of trees per minute mainly because of deforestation.
The first World Rainforest Day was celebrated on June 22nd, 2017 by the Rainforest Partnership. They have listed seven simple yet powerful actions that we can take to make a positive impact on rainforests. Some of them are learning about rainforest, eat more plants and less meat, and travel sustainably.
June 29: International Day of the Tropics
The tropics are a region of the Earth that accounts for 40% of the world’s total surface area. It also host to 80% of the world’s biodiversity and much of its culture and language diversity. Until now, this region still faces challenges from climate change, logging, deforestation, demographic changes, and urbanization.
The International Day of the Tropics was designated by the UN in 2016 and it celebrates the extraordinary diversity of the tropical area. The day also highlight the unique challenges they face and the emerging opportunities they present. The date coincides with the launching of the inaugural State of the Tropics Report by Nobel Laureate Aung San Suu Kyi on 29 June 2014.
Third Saturday in September: International Coastal Cleanup Day
The International Coastal Cleanup Day has been around for more than 30 years. It was started by the Ocean Conservancy in 1986. Its mission is to engage volunteers and communities in collecting and documenting marine debris from the world’s waterways. Each year, the Cleanup occur throughout the US and in more than 100 countries participate in a Cleanup event in their area.
During the 2013 International Coastal Cleanup, more than 600,000 volunteers participated and cleaned around 12,000 miles of coastline. It resulted in the removal of approximately 12,000,000 pounds of litter. They have created an app called Clean Swell for recording each item of trash that we have collected.
September 16: International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer/ World Ozone Day
The International Day for the Preservation of the Ozone Layer is celebrated to commemorate the signing of the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Depletes the Ozone Layer. After the protocol was signed, the closure of the hole in the ozone layer was observed for 30 years. The commemorative day was designated by the UN in 2000.
In the 2019 World Ozone Day, the theme is “32 Years and Healing.” It celebrates over three decades of international cooperation to protect the Earth’s ozone layer and climate under the Montreal Protocol. The Montreal Protocol has successively led to the phase-out of 99% of ozone-depleting chemicals in consumer products. It’s not only about celebrating our success but also to keep hold of these gains.
Third Saturday in September: World Cleanup Day
The World Cleanup Day is celebrated to get rid off this planet’s litter. Volunteers and partners worldwide joining together to cleaning up litter and mismanaged waste from the beaches, rivers, forests, and streets. It first started in Estonia in 2008. 50,000 people united cleaning the country up in five hours. Then the movement spread around the globe. It’s organized by the Let’s Do It World (LDIW) organization.
Anyone can pick up trash anytime in their daily life. But not everyone has already woke up to what’s surrounding us. The simple act of picking trash means the action to care for our future. The 2019 World Cleanup Day on September 21 united more than 20 million people in 180 countries. The 2020 World Cleanup Day will be held on 19 September 2020.
Fourth Sunday of September: World Rivers Day
The World Rivers Day is celebrated to highlights the values of rivers, increase public awareness, and encourages the improved stewardship of world rivers. Its key issues are dams and fish, endangered rivers, health and sanitation, and climate change. The events vary, such as educational outings, community riverside celebrations, and stream cleanups.
World Rivers Day was founded by Mark Angelo, a river advocate, in western Canada. The day was first celebrated in 2005 across dozens of countries. Until now, millions of people in more than 70 countries have participated in World Rivers Day. Each year, it’s held on the fourth Sunday of September. In 2019, it’s celebrated on September 22 and in 2020, it will be celebrated on September 27.
October 1: World Vegetarian Day
The World Vegetarian Day is celebrated to promote the benefits, joy, and compassion of vegetarianism. It was founded in 1977 by the North American Vegetarian Society (NAVS) and endorsed by the International Vegetarian Union in 1978.
The vegetarian diet has proven health benefits, save animals’ lives, and help to preserve the Earth. World Vegetarian Day starts the month of October as Vegetarian Awareness Month, which ends with November 1, World Vegan Day.
First Monday in October: World Habitat Day
The World Habitat Day is celebrated to reflect on the state of our places, towns, and cities, and the basic right of all to adequate shelter. It’s also to remind us that we all have the responsibility to shape the future of our places, towns, and cities. It was first celebrated in 1986 by the UN.
In the 2019 World Habitat Day, the theme is “Frontier technologies as an innovative tool to transform waste into wealth.” Promoting the contribution of technologies to achieve sustainable waste management. Not only solid waste, but also liquid, domestic, industrial, and commercial waste. For the 2020 World Habitat Day, the theme is not yet announced.
October 16: World Food Day
The World Food Day is celebrated to help tackles global hunger. For people around the world to commit to eradicating worldwide hunger from our lifetime, taking action for those who suffer from hunger, and ensuring food security and nutritious diets for all. Climate change also responsible for threatening to reduce the quantity, quality, and nutritious value of crops, and also lowering yields.
It was held in around 150 countries across the world. Many events were organized such as marathons, hunger marches, exhibitions, contests, concerts, and cultural performances. In the 2019 World Food Day, the theme is “Our Actions Are Our Future, Healthy Diets for A #ZeroHunger World.” For the 2020 World Food Day, the theme is not yet announced.
November 1: World Vegan Day
The World Vegan Day is celebrated to promote the vegan lifestyle that many people already adopted. According to many acclaimed vegans, vegan lifestyle is beneficial for the health of the human beings and also fosters the protection of animal lives and the environment.
The day was first established by Louise Wallis, then Chair of The Vegan Society in the UK in 1994. It’s celebrated in many parts of the world including Europe, North America, South America, and Oceania. The activities such as hosting potlucks, setting up stalls, and planting memorial trees.
November 6: International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict
The International Day for Preventing the Exploitation of the Environment in War and Armed Conflict is celebrated to stop and prevent the unsustainable exploitation of natural resources from financing and fueling armed conflict and destabilizing peace. According to the UNEP, at least 40% of all internal conflicts have been linked to the exploitation of natural resources over the last 60 years.
Dead and wounded soldiers and civilians, destroyed cities, infrastructures, and livelihoods has always counted to human’s war casualties. But there is also a victim of a war that is unheard of, it’s the environment. Many animals killed, wells polluted, crops torched, soils poisoned, and forests cut down for military advantage in the field.
All of November: World Vegan Month
The World Vegan Month is celebrated to recognize how far the vegan movement has come, to highlight the benefit of a vegan lifestyle, and to encourage non vegan to adopt veganism. People around the globe mark it in many different ways such as hosting vegan lunch or dinner, sharing vegan foods and recipes on social media, and taking part in vegan outreach in the local community.
The World Vegan Month was designated from the founding date of The Vegan Society, an offshoot of The Vegetarian Society in 1994. Every year since November 1st has been marked as World Vegan Day. Then it evolved into World Vegan Week and now as World Vegan Month. The 2019 World Vegan Month marks 75 years since the foundation of The Vegan Society.
December 5: World Soil Day
The World Soil Day is celebrated to focusing people on the importance of healthy soil and to encourage advocating for the sustainable management practices of soil resources. The first World Soil Day was designated just recently in 2014.
In the 2019 World Soil Day, the theme is “Stop soil erosion, Save our future”. The purpose is for raising awareness of the importance of sustainability on healthy ecosystems and human well-being.
Soil sustainability is achieved by addressing the increasing challenges in soil management by encouraging policymakers, communities, and individuals around the world to engage proactively. For the 2020 World Soil Day, it’s not yet announced.
December 11: International Mountain Day
The International Mountain Day is celebrated to encourage sustainable development in mountains. Issues such as overexploitation and climate change still threatens mountains and mountain people. Problems in the mountains mean problems to us all. Their conservation is a part of Sustainable Development Goal 15. The day was first established by the UN in 2003.
In the 2019 International Mountain Day, the theme is “Mountains Matter for Youth.” It is to encourage young generations to take the lead on mountains protection, whether for its natural resources or the mountain peoples. It’s also about educating children about the role of the mountain in providing fresh water, food, clean energy, and recreation for humans to use. For the 2020 International Mountain Day, it’s not yet announced.
Last updated on December 29, 2019
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