On Monday, Dr Harsh Vardhan, Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, and Erik Solheim, United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Head of UN Environment, jointly announced that India will be hosting the global World Environment Day celebrations on 5 June 2018. 

The theme for this year is Beat Plastic Pollution, which “urges governments, industry, communities and individuals to come together and explore sustainable alternatives and urgently reduce the production and excessive use of single-use plastic that is polluting our oceans, damaging marine life and threatening human health”, said UN Environment in a statement.  

Dr Harsh Vardhan announced that his ministry’s headquarters at Indira Paryavaran Bhavan will now be plastic-free. Indira Paryavaran Bhavan is the first government building in the national capital, with net zero energy green. The state of the art building has emphasis on conservation of natural areas and trees to reduce adverse environmental impact, providing adequate natural light, shaded landscaped areas to reduce ambient temperature and maximise energy saving system. 

Towards which Harsh Vardhan said, “Plastic is one of the serious menaces and we should handle it. About 8 million tonnes of plastic waste ends up in the oceans, or a full garbage truck every minute said the UN. It is the beginning of the end of plastic menace. It will not be just a symbolic celebration of yet another UN day, but a mission”. 

Solheim said, India’s leadership on this matter is critical and expressed his happiness, New Delhi has taken it upon itself to be the global host of World Environment Day this year. 

Minister of State for Environment, Forest & Climate Change Dr Mahesh Sharma, speaking on the occasion, said, “Protection of the environment is the call of the day; it is the call of humanity; for the whole world and especially when we talk of India”. 

“As a doctor, I understand the predicament, that pure air in Delhi and several other smart cities would be scarce not too far if we don’t mitigate the causes of pollution,” added Dr Sharma. 

Environment Secretary C.K. Mishra in his opening remarks said, “Protection of environment is not a symbolic gesture for India; it is a commitment towards sustainable development”. 

The Indian government will now undertake activities and events to generate awareness and public participation, such as pan-India clean-up drives in “public areas, national reserves forests and beaches”. 

Dr Vardhan later travelled in electric cars from Indian headquarters of the United Nations to the office of the Ministry of Environment, Forest and Climate Change, accompanied by Dr Mahesh Sharma, Mr. C.K. Mishra and Mr. Erik Solheim. 

World Environment Day which began in 1972 has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated across the globe.