World Environment Day 2024: Generation Restoration initiative takes action for our land and future

Ronit Kawale
Ronit Kawale - Senior Editor
4 Min Read


World Environment Day is celebrated every year on June 5, established in 1972 at the Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm. Led by the United Nations Environment Programme, it is the largest global platform for raising public awareness and action on urgent environmental issues – the planet's most serious environmental problems.

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This year, World Environment Day (WED) 2024 focuses on land restoration, preventing desertification and building resilience to drought, with the slogan “Our land. Our future. We are #GenerationRestoration,” wrote Saima Wazed, WHO Regional Director for South-East Asia.

Environmental degradation has a direct impact on human health. Air pollution, water pollution and climate change contribute to a wide range of public health problems. WED is not just for those working in the environmental field – it is a call to action for everyone, including those of us working in public health.

The worrying reality is that our region has the highest number of deaths attributable to climate change of all the World Health Organization regions. Climate change and biodiversity loss have already become a major threat to health, regional economy and livelihoods in our region.

“On WED 2024, we call on everyone to recognise the integral role of the health sector in environmental protection and climate action. In doing so, we must strengthen collaboration between the health and environment sectors to address shared challenges. It is imperative that we advocate for policies that prioritise environmental sustainability and public health, and invest in research and innovation to develop sustainable healthcare practices,” says Wajid.

“We have prioritised reducing air pollution and exposure to hazardous chemicals, strengthening health resilience to climate change, and focusing on clean and adequate drinking water, basic sanitation and hygiene,” the senior WHO official said.

The SEA Regional Action Plan for 2020-2030, the WHO Global Strategy on Health, Environment and Climate Change: Healthy Environments for Healthy Populations, clearly outlines various action points on environmental determinants of health for implementation at the regional and country levels.

Practical and innovative ways for the health sector to tackle land restoration, desertification and drought include:

Integrate health impact assessments into land use planning processes. This could include assessing the potential health impacts of proposed projects on air and water quality, food security, and hazards such as drought and desertification.

Implementing green building practices and sustainable infrastructure in healthcare facilities to reduce their environmental footprint and contribute to land restoration efforts. This can include incorporating green spaces into hospital designs to promote healing and health.

Community-based health promotion, empowering communities to take ownership of land restoration and conservation initiatives through participatory health promotion programs.

Build climate-resilient healthcare systems to better withstand the effects of climate change, including drought and desertification. Train healthcare workers in climate adaptation and emergency response strategies.

“On this World Environment Day, I urge our public health community to join efforts to restore land, prevent desertification, and build resilience to drought. We must not forget that this is our land, and our future. We are restoring generations,” Wazed also said.



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