Yesterday was World Environment Day (WED), or Dia Mundial del Medio Ambiente here in Spain. (The previous week, it was World No Tobacco Day - surely not a coincidence?)
Established by the UN in 1972, the idea of WED is to "stimulate worldwide awareness of the environment and encourage political attention and action." Each year it has a theme, this year's being "Forests; Nature at your Service". The UN Environment Programme, through WED, aims to "personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development."
WED is also cited as "a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations." I think raising awareness is a more realistic goal, personally, although next year I'll be looking out for events to take part in, along with my kids. Anyway, this is a day-to-day issue, not just for once a year - turning off lights, TVs, computers; consuming less water; insulating houses; reducing car use; recycling waste. I'm afraid I'm slacking in more than one of these areas, so maybe WED will make me pull my eco-socks up. In England, you get fined for putting the wrong type of rubbish in the wrong bin, but here some Ayuntamientos can't even pay their own employees, so I don't think putting the odd plastic container or glass bottle in the general rubbish will ruffle any feathers.
WED was celebrated around Andalucia with a number of different events, including birdwatching activities in Doñana and plant-themed fun at the Jardin Americano here in Seville, which I wrote about in my last blog post, including sport, art, theatre and music. Much of the activities were aimed at kids, such as games and story-telling, as it's the next generation who will play a really crucial role in taking care of the planet.
In Malaga, 5000 cyclists took part in the Dia de la Bicicleta - the city has 30km of cycle lanes. It's a great way of getting around, and has rocketed in popularity here in Seville lately, with 120km used by an estimated 80,000 people every day.
For my part, I spent the day getting close to nature - at the beach with my family. We looked at crabs, built sandcastles and swum in the sea. Next year, we'll talk about looking after la tierra.