Environment Month celebrations focus on sea level rise in June 2014
30 May 2014
National Environment Month will be celebrated this June under the theme‘International Year of Small Islands Developing States’’ (SIDS) and the slogan is‘’Raise your voice, not the sea level’’. The celebration of National Environment Month is an annual event on South Africa’s environment calendar.
The UN General Assembly declared 2014 as the International Year of Small Islands Developing States (SIDS) to give recognition to these prized destinations and to also create awareness with regards to their challenges and successes. The focus this year is to create a greater understanding of the importance of SIDS and the urgency to help protect the islands in the face of growing risks and vulnerability to natural and environmental disasters, particularly to climate change on the sector.
Islands are faced with problems of climate change, waste management, unsustainable consumption, degradation of natural resources, extreme natural disasters etc. as global temperatures rise, there has also been an increase in sea-level which can cause flooding, coastal erosion, loss of land and infrastructure along coastlines of low lying islands.
In South Africa, a significant proportion of the metropolitan areas, including numerous towns and smaller settlements, are situated along the coastline and are increasingly becoming vulnerable to storm surges, coastal erosion, sea level rise and extreme weather events. The 3, 650 km coastline is generally exposed to moderate to strong wave action and provides little shelter to storms from the sea.
For the Department of Environmental Affairs and South Africa, other key events that are celebrated during this month include: World Environment on 05 June (WED), World Oceans Day on 08 June (WOD) and World Day to Combat Desertification on 17 June (WDCD).
World Environment Day is celebrated annually around the globe. It was established in 1972 by the United Nations General Assembly at the Stockholm Conference on Human Environment to present an opportunity for everyone to realize their responsibility to become agents of change. The day is to create, educate and raise awareness on environmental conservation. The theme for this ‘International Year of Small Islands Developing States’’ (SIDS) and the slogan‘’Raise your voice, not the sea level’’.
World Oceans Day will be observed on the 8th of June and the theme for this year is “Together we have the power to protect our ocean for a better economy’’. The theme addresses the deterioration of health and productivity due to poor management of the ocean. Officially recognized by the United Nations (UN) in 2008, World Oceans Day is aimed at honouring ecosystem services provided by the ocean while improving the conservation of marine species as well as for educating the public on protecting the ocean. The Minister of Environmental Affairs has developed an integrated approached to ocean governance including management plans for ocean areas, environmental variables, conflict scenarios and trade-offs as highlighted in the White Paper.
World Day to Combat Desertification is celebrated annually on the 17th of June. It has been observed since 1994 to promote public awareness relating to international cooperation to combat desertification and the effects of drought, and the implementation of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD). In 2014 WDCD will highlight the benefits of mainstreaming sustainable land management policies and practices into our collective response to climate change. The theme for this year is‘’ Ecosystem-based adaptation’’ and the slogan is "Land belongs to the future – lets climate proof it’’. It aims to promote community and ecosystem resilience while improving the human condition particularly in dry lands. The year 2010 – 2020 has been declared the United Nations Decade for Deserts and the Fight against Desertification (UNDDD).
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