The Necessity of Global Initiative for Environmental Justice

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 to raise awareness about the environment, its importance, the changes occurring within it, and to maintain its quality. This day serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address environmental issues. This year’s theme for World Environment Day is “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought […]

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5 to raise awareness about the environment, its importance, the changes occurring within it, and to maintain its quality. This day serves as a reminder of the urgent need to address environmental issues. This year’s theme for World Environment Day is “Land Restoration, Desertification and Drought Resilience,” with a slogan “Our Land, Our Future, We are Generation Restoration.” The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) leads international dialogue and cooperation on environmental issues, enabling coordinated efforts and more effective environmental regulation globally. Saudi Arabia will host World Environment Day this year.
Research-based news on microplastics spreading in the oceans, increasing garbage in the Pacific Ocean, plastic found in the stomachs of dead marine animals, lead-contaminated drinking water, extinct bird species, large-scale fish deaths, and heat wave alerts, among other issues, are making the world contemplate the impending global crisis. Environmental degradation, scarcity of natural resources, ecosystem destruction, and the extinction of wildlife are affecting the biodiversity of the environment, human health, and the overall quality of life. January and February of this year were the hottest months on record compared to previous years. Temperature records over the past several years indicate that the rate of temperature increase has accelerated. The difference in temperature rise between 2023 and 2024 is quite significant, indicating a rapid rate of temperature increase.
Environmental degradation statistics collected from different parts of the world hint at the crises that may lie ahead. The Great Pacific Garbage Patch is a vast accumulation of marine debris, predominantly plastic, floating in the North Pacific Ocean. It not only affects marine life but also disrupts the entire marine ecosystem and enters the human food chain through seafood. The Amazon rainforest, known as the lungs of the Earth, has suffered biodiversity loss due to rampant deforestation, significantly contributing to global carbon emissions. The Ganga river, a symbol of faith for millions, is highly polluted with industrial waste, sewage, and religious offerings, continuously harming the health of people dependent on the river, as well as aquatic life and its ecology. The Great Barrier Reef in Australia has experienced severe coral bleaching due to increased marine temperatures linked to climate change, impacting marine biodiversity, tourism, and fisheries. Additionally, increasing air pollution in China, desertification in African countries due to deforestation, large-scale oil spills in the Niger Delta (Nigeria) for decades, continuous land degradation due to mining activities in the Amazon Basin (South America), pollution in Indonesia’s Citarum River from industrial waste, and the melting ice in the Arctic due to global warming underscore the urgent need for global cooperation and new policies and implementations for environmental protection. It is evident that comprehensive strategies are needed to bring these issues to the global stage, including strict regulations, innovative technologies, and active participation from all sectors of society.
Recent environmental changes worldwide are alarming and indicate the ongoing climate crisis. The UN report recorded numerous extreme weather events last year. Drought in East Africa led to severe food insecurity for millions. Record-breaking rainfall in Pakistan caused devastating floods, displacing millions and causing significant economic damage. Europe experienced an unprecedented rate of glacier melting, and the extent of Antarctic sea ice reached record levels. According to wildlife records, 2023 was the hottest year, surpassing previous records with the global average temperature rising by 1.45 degrees Celsius above the pre-existing levels. Oceans are continuously warming, and sea levels have increased to record heights, affecting marine ecosystems and food systems. Levels of carbon dioxide, methane, and nitrous oxide have reached unprecedented heights.
The question is, what will be the future of the environment if current conditions persist? The future of the environment depends on many factors, including human activities, policy decisions, technological advancements, and natural processes. If significant interventions are not made, the amount of plastic in the oceans is expected to triple by 2040. If greenhouse gas emissions continue at the current rate, global temperatures could rise by 2 degrees Celsius or more above pre-industrial levels by the end of the century.
India is also facing environmental crises. Environmental degradation is a serious issue that requires immediate and coordinated action. To address these challenges, measures such as enforcing strict environmental regulations, promoting sustainable practices, increasing public awareness, implementing technological innovations, and fostering international cooperation should be pursued. India’s initiatives in many areas can provide a path for the world to tackle this grave crisis, leading towards a safer future.
To protect its natural resources, reduce pollution, and promote sustainable development, India has several major environmental protection acts: the Wildlife Protection Act, 1972; the Water (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1974; the Air (Prevention and Control of Pollution) Act, 1981; the Environment (Protection) Act, 1986; the Biological Diversity (Amendment) Bill, 2021 (Biodiversity Act, 2002); and the Forest Conservation Amendment Bill, 2023 (Forest Conservation Act, 1980). These, along with other environmental regulations and policies, create a legal framework for environmental protection and conservation in India. They demonstrate the country’s commitment to sustainable development and the conservation of its natural heritage for present and future generations.
Policies like environmental laws (Clean Air Act, Clean Water Act, and Endangered Species Act), international agreements (such as the Paris Agreement), and the regulation of industrial activities (strict rules on industrial emissions and waste management) should be strictly adhered to. Measures to reduce reliance on fossil fuels and lower greenhouse gas emissions by promoting the use of renewable energy sources such as solar, wind, and hydroelectric power, and reducing chemical use should also be included. Conservation efforts for national parks and wildlife sanctuaries, revival projects for degraded lands, forests, wetlands, and waterways, measures to protect endangered species, and the adoption of innovative waste management solutions should be implemented to adopt technological innovations. Promoting environmental education, public awareness campaigns, and community participation, implementing carbon pricing mechanisms, providing financial incentives, and supporting green entrepreneurship to encourage investment in green projects and sustainable industries are also concrete steps in this direction. There is a need to implement smart development principles while adopting green building standards amidst increasing urbanization. Collaborative actions at the local, national, and global levels are necessary to achieve environmental protection goals and safeguard future generations. The challenges are significant, but if we succeed, we will be doing justice to the environment, society, and humanity.

The Author is eminent zoologist and Vice Chancellor of Doctor Harisingh Gour Central University, Sagar (MP)