By: Angie Arias and Alessandra Reque
Over the years, humanity is becoming increasingly alert about the impact of the climate crisis. It has been observed that floods, forest fires, heatwaves, among others, are warning us that the problem is increasing and the only way to cope is through activism and, above all, the implementation of immediate climate policies.
''Environmental awareness has gone from being a marginal issue to becoming a general concern shared by most of the population'' (National Geographic, 2021). Although previous generations have tried to warn about the severe consequences of the climate crisis, they were helpless to generate considerable changes. However, they were the beginning along with this new generation of young leaders to raise awareness among the population from all over the world. These people, through activism, continue to demand urgent climate actions from their governments.
As we approach International Earth Day, April 22, we should review the history of the formation of this central date and awaken a greater interest in being part of the commitment that we have to this issue that affects everyone.
History about International Earth Day
The first steps towards the "Green Generation" came about thanks to Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson, who carried out awareness campaigns in favor of environmental care during the 1960s due to technological development, demographic expansion, and the post-war period; however, these had no effect despite the advances in pollution.
In 1969, pacifist and university groups held a peaceful march to end the war against Vietnam. Senator Gaylord took that event as a model to call for a big march defending the earth's protection. The same year, he announced the idea to the nation.
The first big march was held in the presence of thousands of people with the same goal, to protect the earth, so they sent letters and telephone inquiries from all parts of the country to take part. Together with activist Denis Hayes, the organization took place on April 22, 1970. Now he is recognized as the forerunner of the modern environmental movement.
"The American people finally had a forum to express their concern about what was happening to the land, rivers, lakes, and air, and they did so in spectacular fashion," mentioned Gaylord Nelson (National Geographic, 2021) in his essay shortly before he passed away.
As a result of this event, advances arose in the protection of the environment not only in the United States but also in other parts of the world, such as the implementation of the first international conference on the environment called "The Stockholm Summit" in 1972 that Its purpose was to make countries aware of the care of the environment.
The evolution of environmental care has generated several international treaties as well as the creation of programs for environmental sustainability; so much so that the legal systems must be in line with the third generation of human rights; therefore, it is essential to know some of them:
At the international level, the "Stockholm Summit" was the first conference in 1972, by which the participating countries established 26 principles to manage the environment. Thanks to this conference, the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) was created, whose purpose is to state the global environmental agenda. It also has to teach the member countries about good ecological management and sustainable development; this program is the top authority in environmental matters and a leader worldwide. Those who are part of this program must comply through agreements.
At the national level, the foundation of regulatory institutions has resulted in respect for ecology. Additionally, there is a current National Environmental Policy (PNA) that has certain objectives, strategies, and various activities that together seek to ensure that ''Peru reduces the fragility of its ecosystems, conserves its biodiversity, and recovers ecosystem services, to contribute to improving people's quality of life'' by 2030 (Ministry of the Environment, 2022).
Finally, environmental activism, from different generations, promoted the implementation of programs such as national and international management policies in search of sustainability; therefore, today, we can observe significant advances in awareness and action for the protection and conservation of the environment.
What is left for us to do? Everyone has a high commitment to making changes in their lifestyle to have a more sustainable economy. Therefore, it is essential to teach and encourage other young people on how we can reuse and economize products, which are actions that contribute to sustainability. In this way, the idea is to stop being just another spectator and become a participant who fights for the only place where we belong, the world.
National Geographic. (2021). Earth Day Facts: Why is it celebrated? Where did it start? Retrieved from: https://www.nationalgeographic.es/medio-ambiente/datos-del-dia-de-la-tierra-por-que-se-celebra-donde-empezo
UN Environment Program. Retrieved from: https://www.unep.org/es/sobre-un-medio-ambiente
Ministry of the Environment. (2022), Retrieved from: https://www.gob.pe/institucion/minam/campa%C3%B1as/2041-politica-nacional-del-ambiente
UN United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, June 5-16, 1972, Stockholm. Retrieved from: https://www.un.org/es/conferences/environment/stockholm1972