Wednesday, June 8, 2022
On April 22, 1970, more than 20 million Americans took to the streets to demand that the government create an environmental agency in the United States. This mass mobilization was driven by Wisconsin senator Taylor Nelson, who had been advocating for an environmental protection movement since 1960.
At that time, the environment was not high on the political agenda, but public concern forced governments to take a stand, and the US government created the Environmental Protection Agency. Two years later, in 1972, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held in Stockholm, making it the first international summit on the environment. It laid the foundations for global awareness of the interconnection between human beings, the planet and other living beings that inhabit it.
This was where the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was created, a UN agency responsible for setting the global environmental agenda, which celebrates its 50th anniversary this year. The conference also sowed the seeds for recognizing the day that the environmental protests had begun, April 22, as Earth Day.
So one more date was marked red in our calendars, already full of official international days -proclaimed by the United Nations; official world days -started by UN agencies; and unofficial days -declared by other types of associations and collectives that are able to set these days thanks to popular acceptance and the passage of time. All of these days are designed to raise awareness and draw attention to issues related to human rights, sustainable development and health, among many other matters.
Throughout history, thanks to this awareness-raising, significant steps have been taken against epidemics such as AIDS, which is commemorated on December 1st. However, in today's tumultuous and rapidly changing world, we still need to give a voice and constant visibility to situations, problems and demands that continue to concern us.
A clear example of this is March 8, International Women's Day, which has commemorated the struggle for true equality and women's rights in all areas since 1911. Another important date is International Youth Day, which has been celebrated on August 12 since 1999 to promote the ideals of peace and tolerance among young people, who are key agents of change in any global effort.
Companies and administrations -both agents of change- use these days as opportunities to organize festive activities and media events that raise awareness among the general public and involve them in a specific cause.
However, despite the positive impact these particular holidays have, if we want to accelerate the path to a more prosperous world, global challenges must be addressed every day of the year. Because if we want to build change, we must first act, and to make the world a better place, just one day is not enough. For this reason, Planet Energy will periodically publish a series of articles in which we will give a voice and visibility to situations, efforts, and needs that can be found in the areas of sustainability, the environment and energy, not only on the days set apart for these issues, so that these struggles will become part of a permanent movement.