In line with the decision taken at the United Nations General Assembly in 1972, United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held from 05th June to 16th June 1972 in Stockholm, Sweden. The inaugural day of the Stockholm conference was declared as World Environment Day (WED). As a result of the Conference, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was officially set up to undertake celebration of this day. Since then past 4 decades, it is hosted every year with a different theme.
Theme of the World Environment Day 2014 is “Small islands and Climate Change” and through this theme, the attention was drawn to small Islands and climate change. One of the major environmental challenges face by these countries are rise of sea water level due to climate change.
Scientists have disclosed that the atmospheric temperature has been increased by 0.74 Celsius during past 100 years. Main reason for emission of Greenhouse gases is human activities. With the increase in volume of greenhouse gases that are added to the atmosphere, temperature of atmosphere also in the rises. As a result of this, climatic parameters such as rainfall, pattern of wind are changed and cause for climate change, Because of this climate change phenomena, Island nations are more vulnerable for floods, storms or typhoons. If we do not pay attention to the rise of sea level immediately certain Islands will be unsuitable for human inhabitance.
Though Sri Lanka is not a small Island, it also has to face adverse effect of climate change together with other island nations. This situation paves the way to displace people living in coastline or suffer them from adverse effect of climate change. The objective of the theme of this year WED is to make aware of the world community in adverse effect created by human activities on climate change and mitigation it and prevent repercussions.
At present, with the growth of population, burn of fossil fuel, degradation of forests and mixtures many kind of atmospheric gases have created new challenges to human and physical environment. After beginning of industrial revolution, necessity of power had been gradually increased. Power generated through burning coal, fuel and fossil fuel were used for activities such as houses illumination and vehicular movements.
Many small Island countries have successfully faced their energy needs challenge and found appropriate solutions. For example, in the Pacific region, national policies of Fiji and Vanuatu have introduced renewable energy sources instead of expensive power sources. They promote production through planting on degraded lands. In Solomon Islands, Vanuatu and Fiji, hydropower is increasingly being used for electricity production. The Island of Tokelau produces 100% of its energy from solar systems. Accordingly, in order to preserve limited physical sources, alternative power sources could be used and thus environment degradation could be minimized.
Hence, to make this year theme meaningful and to minimize climate change effects, citizens of Sri Lanka shall follow the following actions and need to consider they are as common responsibilities.
Use Electricity reservedly,
Solid wastes recycling,
Disseminate information among others on climate change,
Procure/purchase environment friendly products,
Use green energy,
Purchase products with Energy Saving Labels (Stars)