world looks to America for leadership. Sadly World Environment Day (WED) tends
to be a low profile day in the US compared to some other environmental events.
This is unfortunate because the day is meant to be global in scope. It is
important for Americans to understand the truly global scale of environmental
threats and climate change in particular.
It is fitting that as we
acknowledge WED on Wednesday June 5th, we celebrate the global power of
environmental activism. This year marks the United Nations 42nd WED, an annual
event that aspires to be the world’s most widely celebrated global day for
positive environmental action.
While we often think of environmental activism from a national perspective the issues they address are
commonly international in scope. Environmental problems like climate change
causing greenhouse gases do not respect national boundaries.
illustration of successful global activism is Greenpeace’s “Detox
Fashion” initiative. This campaign has succeed in harnessing the power of
popular activism to change the businesses practices of numerous organizations.
Greenpeace’s consumer powered pressure campaigns have changed the manufacturing
processes of a dozen
clothing giants. As reviewed by Greenpeace campaigner John
Deans, turning consumers into activists is a key component of their
Environmental abuse has international repercussions and as
such is subject to global forces. A good illustration of this point is the Arab
Spring which is a contagious popular movement that has led to progress on
many environmental fronts.
WED is an opportunity to reflect on the
globalized nature of environmental activism. This is a day for people from all
walks of life to come together to help build a cleaner and greener future. As
explained by the United Nations, WED is intended to “enable everyone to realize
not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change
in support of sustainable and equitable development.”
advocacy anywhere is an important part of environmentalism everywhere. Emerging
transnational activism gives us reason to hope that we may be able to bring
about the global changes we so desperately need.
This day should
encourage Americans to support fledgling green movements in other parts of the
world as they are an integral part of efforts to address global environmental
People are awakening to the reality that together they have
the power to change the world, and we can only hope that Americans will waken to
need to support environmental activism around the globe.
© 2014, Richard
Matthews. All rights reserved.