2002 WED was held in Shenzhen, China and like Kofi Annan said, the motto ‘Give earth a chance’ conveyed a message of urgency- about the state of earth and the broader quest for sustainable development. This slogan was first popularized back in 1969, when the Environmental Action for Survival Committee at the University of Michigan began to sell buttons with a slogan resembling the “Give Peace a Chance” slogan commonly used in the protest rallies against Vietnam War. Instead of the original it was written “Give Earth a Chance” and by 1970 when the first Earth day was celebrated, this slogan had become quite a hit. On the first Earth Day, thousands joined folk singers Pete Seeger and Phil Ochs when they sang “All we are saying… is give earth a chance”.

Replica of the '69-'70 'Give Earth a Chance' button

The significance of WED 2002 was also that it was the tenth anniversary of the first Earth Summit held in Rio. This year was also declared ‘International year of Ecotourism’. With the motto ‘Give earth a chance’, organizers tried to present a human face to environmental issues. That the ecology is in dire straits was easily palpable, and the event urged people to help in healing an ailing planet. There is so much to do in the way of helping- right from little acts of conservation to cleaning our lakes and mountains to paying attention to equitability and sustainability. Ultimately, it is that if we don’t give earth that much needed ‘chance’ now, we may not even survive to ask for a second chance.

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