WED 2000- the first environment day of the third millennium- was hosted by Adelaide, South Australia and carried the message for a whole new millennium which went like ‘The Environment Millennium- Time to Act’. UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook Report 2000, which was released the previous year, had the alarming conclusion consolidated, that all our natural systems are in decline and time is running out to reverse this trend. An excerpt from the speech given by UNEP (United Nations Environment Programme) Executive Director Klaus Toepfer is given below:

 “Let me highlight some of the more pressing issues the planet faces. Many parts of the world face severe water shortages. About 20 per cent of the planet’s people lack access to safe drinking water and 50 per cent lack adequate sanitation. Weather events worldwide are becoming more frequently extreme. Land fertility is declining. Land degradation is increasing. The rapid growth of urbanization is causing massive air pollution. Nitrogen pollution is compromising terrestrial and aquatic ecosystems, as well as contributing to global warming. Over 80 per cent of the planet’s forests have been destroyed or degraded, a quarter of the world’s mammal species are at serious risk of extinction, and biological diversity is disappearing at an alarming rate. More than half the world’s coral reefs are threatened by human activities, and marine fisheries are being over-exploited to the point that their ability to quickly recover is in doubt.”

Draught

Stop pollution!

 

On record, eight of the hottest ten years till date had occurred the decade before and as the UNEP Deputy Executive Director pointed out in his speech, there were actual facts and figures speaking about the environmental degradation, and this was simply undeniable. There were more than enough reasons, the time had come for massive action.

The famous melting earth image

The event had the usual meetings, clean-up programmes, plant-tree programmes, and several other initiatives along with the distribution of Global 500 awards to those who have made outstanding contributions to protection of environment. The environmental agenda of the 21st century was laid out-environmental improvements which accompany economic and social gains and global cooperation for sustainable development.

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World Environment Day (abbreviated as WED) was started by UN and is commemorated on June 5th of every year. The theme for WED 2010 is ‘Many species, One planet, One future’. The host nation this year is Rwanda and the goodwill ambassador none other than the gorgeous Giselle Bundchen. That was just a quick round-up of the facts. Now that June 5 is exactly one month away, we have planned a sort of countdown in our blog. Starting from today, articles on various themes of WED celebrated this millennium will appear in our blog. This is done with an intention to create environmental awareness among the public. Tune in!

Every event is a way of saying that we deeply care, for whatever reason it may be. Every event tells the story of the underlying passion of a lot of people who put in a lot of hard work molding abstract ideas into visible outcomes. We at ECHO were severely constrained by lack of time and resources during the time, but we tried our best to come up with a few events for April 22nd– Earth Day. And that, we did.

The plan was as follows:

1. ECHO’s official launch.

2. Avoid use of private vehicles for the day.

3. Start a ‘plant-a-tree’ campaign. 

All our employees came by company bus or public transport on that day. Quite a few walked or cycled too- even for considerable distances. In the end, when we saw the empty parking lot in the middle of a crowded basement, there was this feel-good factor, thinking that we taxed the environment a little lesser that morning.

 

At noon, the saplings were distributed. It was actually nice to see the green little things sitting next to the grey desktops.

 

A popular newspaper covered the event, transforming a few among us into instant celebrities, when the photo appeared in the paper next day.

 

Thus ECHO was launched- without any formal events; subtly yet suitably. The intention was to let the actions speak for themselves. From that auspicious start, we want to take things forward. We are planning another event very soon, and one thing that we will make sure of is that this enthusiasm will never die a premature death.

Amongst the multitude of all the special ‘days’ you know, how many have a universal appeal? You might come up with a few, but many of these mean more to certain people, not all. For instance, if you are single, which many are, does Valentine’s Day really matter so much? But as long as you are not an alien, you certainly can celebrate Earth Day. This is one event which traverses all barriers.

Earth day was founded by the late Senator Gaylord Nelson, who back in April 22nd 1972, organized one of the largest civic demonstrations in US history with as many as 20 millions taking part. From then on, the movement has travelled a long way, long enough to travel all around the earth. Thousands of organizations, 190 countries, 1 billion people- current statistics are indeed impressive. A lot of constructive activism is happening too, but the catch is that it is never enough. The climate changes are becoming more and more evident. In India, for example, this is perhaps one of the hottest summers ever. Now before you start debating about its connection to global warming, why not just go and plant a tree? Just think about how comforting the shade of a tree can be on a hot day! Likewise, haven’t we seen enough aftereffects of pollution to try to put an end to it?

Sustainable development ought to be the keyword, there is no point in gathering all the wealth in the world if you are going to have repulsive burns all over 20 years later and die a tragic death without getting that last drop of water? When you are saving everything else for the future generation, also save them a place to live in. Otherwise, imagine how embarrassing it will be to explain why you did, what you did to them.

Try to get educated about the green movement, help in whatever way you can. There is not really much time to think, start acting- now! There are indeed ‘miles to go before you sleep’!

E-team launches its earth club ECHO on April 22nd 2010. With the motto ‘Conservation at work’ the aim is to motivate all to make conservation a habit and work for it with a consistent zeal. Beginning on this auspicious note, ECHO pledges to try to take the green message to every nook and corner of this world.

THE ORIGIN OF ECHO:

There was a time when we used to come to office, start thinking about work, and then the power goes off- we were left with two options. One was to stay inside, get baked, get suffocated and die. The other was to go outside and get deep-fried. Most of us chose the latter and would come back later to drink gallons of water. But you know what, things will change- summers will continue, you’ll continue getting baked/fried, but there won’t be water.

The weather forecast guys are in deep trouble too. Earlier their job was easy. They could predict a dry day and you knew that you had to take an umbrella, and a ‘rainy day’ was the ideal time to wash all your clothes. But now people are confused. Apparently they keep troubling the weather guys not for the daily forecast, but to know what season it is- nobody actually knows!

These and a lot more- don’t you think these are all reasons enough for any self-respecting Indian to sit down, form a committee, conduct meetings and discuss things? On a more serious note, how many times this year did you read about heat strokes, sun burns and death due to these? Those statistics are enough to raise anybody’s blood pressure a bit- so that was how ‘ECHO’ was born.

WHAT IS ‘ECHO’?

Echo, by definition is ‘a sound heard again near its source after being reflected’ or more imaginatively ‘any repetition or close imitation, as of the ideas or opinions of another’. Translating to our case, our aim is to ‘echo’ the ‘eco’ (ecology’) and we expect others to echo us.

The expansion of our ECHO is ‘Environmental Code of Hope’. Now this can be interpreted in many ways- one is with ‘code’ as in Davinci’s code; we are environment’s code word for hope- its only hope. Another one- haven’t you heard of terms such as ‘code of ethics’ and ‘code of conduct’? Here code can mean ‘any set of standards or requirements set forth and enforced for a purpose’ or ‘a systematically arranged collection or compendium of laws, rules and regulations’. Our ‘code of hope’ implies that we are making a few laws, environmental regulations, so that in the end there remains at least some hope- for the earth as a whole and humans in particular.

ECHO's Logo

OUR CAPTION:

‘Conservation at work’- not the kind of conservation where we work a bit less and generally avoid doing things. Well, that is conservation too; deciding not to take a print out because it is not really needed IS definitely conservation. But more importantly, we are trying to be practical and find healthier options to the practices that are going to kill us, and delay it a bit. Or in other words, we work as usual, but we conserve in between- that is conservation at work. It also means ‘CONSERVATION IS GOING ON’- take notice!

MISSION AND VISION:

Mission, in short is to reduce, reuse and recycle; this and anything even remotely associated. You can find hundreds of reasons to conserve and hundred of ways to frame it into sentences. Vision hence, is not a set purpose. We are not aiming for a time limit or trying to limit our achievements. Our only intention is to serve earth, voice it, and hear others echo it.

OUR ECHO:

To make an impact, our first ‘echo’ must be really loud. For that we need suggestions- on what all we can do as part of our conservation. Never mind whether you consider it feasible or not; in ancient days, nobody ever thought it possible that the earth could actually be round as some great men said and not flat. But even such a giant thing ‘budged’ and was eventually found to be round. So it is never about possibility and feasibility, it is just about the inputs- your participation. Send us your ideas- anything and everything that comes to your mind when you say ‘conserve’, and tell us how you think we can implement them.

WE ARE EAGERLY WAITING TO HEAR FROM YOU.

We  are here at echo@eteamindia.com