Peripatetic Event

Celebrating UN International Mother Earth Day 2024: The Work Being Done and Yet to be Done

Today, the 22nd of April, is the 15th official International Mother Earth Day – a celebration of the Earth’s ecosystems organised and championed by the United Nations. The purpose of this day is to bring the international community together, recognising the commonality that all nations share in this planet and its environments, meaning there is a collective responsibility to look after them. 

The term “celebrating” might be a little bit too optimistic for this International Mother Earth Day, but while there’s still lots of work to be done, it’s also important to recognise the progress being made. We’ve put together this blog to break down some of the consequences of the climate crisis, while also putting a spotlight on some of the most impressive examples of communities protecting and restoring ecosystems. 

Real-Time Consequences of Climate Change & Eco-Degradation

Any conversation about the stage of the environment cannot be complete without interrogating the real-time, present issues that the world is facing as a result of climate change. 

Recent Extreme Weather Events: Every year, more extreme weather events take place. For example, last year saw Europe hit with historic flooding, storms, and heatwaves, which can all be directly linked to rising global temperatures. These events not only endanger people and property but can do huge damage to ecosystems.

Oceanic Acidification: Plastic in the ocean is a huge problem, with the levels of waste making its way to our seas massively increasing the acid levels in these bodies of water. Acidity in the ocean is an issue as it disrupts marine food chains, which can reduce biodiversity, while also reducing storm protection in reefs.

Deforestation: A shocking 10 million hectares of forests are lost every year to deforestation – for context, that covers more land than Iceland. The desolation of forests reduces biodiversity, while also diminishing the natural forest ability for carbon sequestration.

Desertification: Not mutually exclusive from deforestation, desertification refers to areas where vegetation decreases and eventually disappears. It can come around as a result of irresponsible agricultural/livestock practices, the overuse of natural resources, and deforestation – in turn leading to loss of biodiversity, food insecurity, and reduced aquifers. 

Coastal Abrasion/Erosion: With rising sea levels, coastal areas across the world are experiencing significant abrasion, meaning the literal loss of land. This can decimate communities, forcing people to leave their homes and find new places to live, often in underdeveloped, poverty-stricken areas. 

And these consequences are just scratching the surface of what climate change and eco-degradation could result in for our planet. It’s also important to recognise that while there is talk of “points of no return” and other concepts of the sort, there are still things that the population can do to minimise the negative effects and restore some natural order. 

Fighting the Good Fight: World Restoration Flagships and More

With initiatives like International Mother Earth Day and World Rewilding Day, the UN is arguably leading the charge in terms of communal mobilisation. One of the most exciting initiatives under the UN umbrella is the World Restoration Flagships – a yearly part of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration that tracks notable restoration projects from across the globe. 

We’ve put together some notes on the seven World Restoration Flagships for 2024, showing just how committed certain communities are to restoring the environment and protecting biodiversity. 

From Fires to Forests – Resilience in the Mediterranean

This reforestation project was established in the Mediterranean Basin – a biodiversity hotspot with 16% of its species under threat of climate-related hazards. With the contributions of Lebanon, Morocco, Tunisia, and Türkiye the project has restored 2 million hectares of forest since 2017, with a goal of 8 million to be restored by 2030. 

Living Indus – Restoring a Cradle of Civilizations

Established in 2022, the Living Indus project in Pakistan is focused on restoring 25 million hectares of the Indus River Basin by 2030. The degradation in the area has impacted the fertility of the land, along with the food chains of the local fish. So far, with Pakistan’s Government, FAO, and UN support, the project has restored 1.35 million hectares of the basin. 

Acción Andina: Saving a Global Water and Climate Hotspot

The Andean Forests are home to a 6th of all the plant life on the planet, and this project aims to restore 1 million hectares by 2045, along with growing 30 million trees by 2030. The project has involved Argentina, Bolivia, Chile, Colombia, Ecuador, Peru, and Venezuela, engaging 25,000 people and helping to stimulate the economies of the involved areas. 

Sri Lanka Mangrove Regeneration Initiative

In the time since the Sri Lankan Tsunami, mangrove planting projects in the area have been failing consistently. That’s why this regeneration project was started – creating the right conditions for mangroves to grow in the area once again. The project is supported by Australia, the UK, and the USA, with plans to restore 10,000 hectares of mangroves and create 4,000 green jobs by 2030. 

Terai Arc Landscape: Reviving Asia’s Mega-Fauna

The Terai Arc Landscape supports more than 7.5 million people in Nepal alone, along with tigers, rhinos, elephants, black bucks, buffaloes, crocodiles, and birds. With poaching and habitat loss, the humans and animals have been suffering significantly, but this project was devised to restore 350,000 hectares by 2030, rebuild the tiger population, and improve the lives of 500,000 Nepalese households. 

Regreening Africa’s Agriculture

Ethiopia, Ghana, Kenya, Mali, Niger, Rwanda, Senegal, and Somalia have all contributed to this initiative, focused on combatting desertification in Africa. With the support of CARE, Oxfam, and World Vision, among others, the scheme is intended to restore 5 million hectares of green space by 2030, improving soil resilience and fertility to boost yields of crops and grass. 

Growing Forests in Africa's Drylands: African Farmers Transforming Food Systems

Involving Cameroon, Central African Republic, Chad, The Gambia, Kenya, Mali, Senegal, Uganda, and Tanzania, the Forest Garden Project is a shift toward sustainable farming practices to regenerate nature. The goal of the project is to restore 229,000 hectares by 2030, while also creating 230,000 new green jobs – tackling poverty and climate change in one fell swoop. 

International Mother Earth Day: A Reminder to Collaborate

This International Mother Earth Day it’s important to recognise that hope is not lost, as long as people come together and work together. The World Restoration Flagships are great examples of how forest restoration and sustainability projects can be successful, as long as people come together and collaborate. 

With that in mind, we’d like to remind readers of Disasters Expo Europe, a dedicated space for collaboration between countless disaster response businesses and organisations, including representatives from the UN. The climate crisis and disaster management are inextricably linked, with sustainability a core element of the goals we set out in this event. 

Register for your tickets today to spend time amongst the thought leaders changing the landscape of disaster management and ecosystem protection. And above all, happy International Mother Earth Day.