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World Environmental Health Day: Toward a Healthier Planet

World Environmental Health Day is on September 26th. This day highlights environmental health's significant role in our survival. The International Federation of Environmental Health organizes this event annually, emphasizing the universal call for collective action.

It focuses on specific environmental health concerns like climate change, air quality, and water safety each year. 

This special day provides an international platform for scientists, environmental health professionals, policymakers, and the general public to come together. It promotes exchanging ideas, sparks discussions, and promotes commitments to safeguard our environment's health. Read on to learn more.

Featured in: September - Awareness Months, Days & Observances.

History and Background of World Environmental Health Day

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The International Federation of Environmental Health (IFEH) established World Environmental Health Day in 2011 to promote the importance of environmental care for disease prevention and good health. 

IFEH President Henning I. Hansen and IFEH Regional Group Vice President for Africa Selva Mudaly promoted the cause and expanded its reach as a key public health intervention. 

Today, more countries and organizations are joining the movement, increasing World Environmental Health Day's global recognition.

World Environment Health Day Themes

Over the years, the WEHD’s themes have focused on many issues related to public health. Here are the various topics highlighted each year since 2017.

  • 2017 - Indoor and Outdoor Air Quality
  • 2018 - Global Food Safety and Sustainability
  • 2019 - Climate Change Challenges, Time for Global Environmental Health to Act in Unison
  • 2020 - Environmental Health, A Key Public Health Intervention in Disease Pandemic Prevention
  • 2021 - Prioritizing Environmental Health for Healthier Communities in Global Recovery
  • 2022 - Strengthening Environmental Health Systems for the Implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals
  • 2023 - Global Environmental Public Health: Standing Up to Protect Everyone’s Health Each and Every Day

The Cause and Its Challenges

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World Environmental Health Day highlights the role environmental health plays in our lives. The planet gives us what we need to survive: clean air, safe water, abundant food, and sturdy shelter. 

However, our activities threaten the environment and ourselves. Air pollution, climate change, and deforestation threaten our existence and other species around us. 

Read in-depth the current state of these issues through the following articles:

Why World Environmental Health Day Matters

Here are the top five facts on why we should support WEHD:

  1. According to the World Health Organization, seven million people die yearly due to poor air quality.
  2. A 2019 study reported sea level rise could reach 1 to 8 feet by 2100.
  3. American Chemical Society said that, on average, Americans ingest between 39,00 and 52,000 plastic particles annually.
  4. In 2019, the 931 million tons of food waste1 mainly came from households at 61%.
  5. Despite humanity's dependence on the forest, the world lost 420 million hectares of these lands because of deforestation between 1990 and 20202.

Efforts and Initiatives

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Various international and governmental organizations come together to improve our planet's and its inhabitants' health. 

First and foremost, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) promotes global environmental health. They assist nations and individuals in enhancing their quality of life by adopting sustainable practices and enforcing global ecological regulations.

India's National Green Corps program, or Eco-clubs, educates young minds about the environment and ecosystem balances. 

There’s also Environmental Health Australia (EHA), which supports professional development across diverse sectors in Australia for the environmental health.

Various non-profit organizations, including Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth, have also launched successful campaigns that influenced policy changes and secured funding for environmental sustainability. 

Related Read: World Environment Day, Earth Month.

How to Get Involved and Support World Environmental Health Day

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  • Volunteer for environmental organizations, whether through hands-on field work or administrative tasks. Your work contributes significantly to the cause while honoring the environmental health workforce.
  • Spark environmental conversations on social media and share credible information about environmental health issues to raise awareness and influence people’s opinions. 
  • Organize various events, such as fundraising, to support ecological health organizations while promoting the cause. 
  • Adopt a sustainable lifestyle, such as using reusable shopping bags or turning off the tap while brushing. Here are more sustainable living skills you must learn.

Conclusion

World Environmental Health Day reminds us of the connection between our health and the environment. Make sustainable daily choices to help maintain our planet’s health. 

Our task is to care for Mother Earth every day rather than think about her once a year.  It is up to us to drive change through our actions, prioritizing environmental health.

World Environmental Health Day FAQs

1. What is World Environmental Health Day?

It is a global event held on September 26th to raise awareness about the link between a clean and healthy environment to human well-being.

2. What is its purpose?

World Environmental Health Day sheds light on the impact of environmental factors on human health and promotes sustainable practices that protect and enhance the environment.

3. Why is environmental health important?

It directly affects our well-being. Clean air, water, and food, as well as safe living and working conditions, prevent diseases and promote good health.

4. What are the main challenges to environmental health?

These challenges include pollution, global warming, deforestation, waste management, and the use of harmful chemicals. They have adverse effects on human health and the ecosystem. 

5. How can we show support?

You can adopt eco-friendly habits, promote sustainable practices, participate in local clean-up initiatives, support environmental organizations, and spread awareness about the importance of environmental health.

1

United Nations Environment Programme (2021). Food Waste Index Report 2021. Nairobi. 

2

FAO. 2022. The State of the World’s Forests 2022. Forest pathways for green recovery and building inclusive, resilient and sustainable economies. Rome, FAO. 

By Mike Gomez, BA.

Mike is a degree-qualified researcher and writer passionate about increasing global awareness about climate change and encouraging people to act collectively in resolving these issues.

Fact Checked By:
Isabela Sedano, BEng.

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