By Guest Writer

OPINION: Every 22nd day of April, we celebrate Earth Day to honor the milestones of environmental groups and increase awareness of the need to protect Earth’s natural resources for future generations.

The first Earth Day was celebrated in 1970, when a United States senator from Wisconsin organized a national demonstration to raise awareness about environmental issues. By 1990, Earth Day was an event celebrated by more than 140 countries around the globe.

Today, Earth Day is observed in more than 190 countries. More than 1 billion people now participate in Earth Day activities each year, making it the largest civic observance in the world. This certainly shows how important the earth is to the world.

The world’s population is realizing that the earth is something we mutually share and needs collective responsibility to protect it for us and the future generation. We have had international practices like the Kyoto Protocol, the Paris Agreement, and others to keep this earth safe for generations.

Uganda, like any other country, has, in addition to its constitution, put up organs like NEMA, UWA, etc. and enacted laws like the National Environment Act, the NEMA Act, regulations, and others to protect the earth.

But there is a lot to be done; the world is still grappling with climate change and environmental degradation. It is estimated that roughly 15 billion trees in the world are cut down each year. In 2010, Uganda had 6.93 million ha of tree cover, extending over 29% of its land area.

As published in the Guardian, with only 10% of Uganda’s rural population connected to the electrical grid, there is little option but to burn wood, leading to one of the worst deforestation rates in the world.

Protected areas like swamps are being drained and encroached upon to the extent that private individuals are owning freehold land certificates. New fossil fuel projects are being launched, not just Uganda’s EACOP, Tilenga, and KingFisher but also other dirty fossils in America, Europe, etc.

Therefore, before we get to the exciting stuff to celebrate Earth Day and reflect on how humanity has been treating our planet, let’s face it: there’s no denying the gravity of the problem.

That we have been poor custodians. The Earth is facing a plethora of planetary crises”: climate disruption, nature and biodiversity loss, pollution, and waste that are threatening the well-being and survival of millions of people around the world. The building blocks of happy, healthy lives—clean water, fresh air, and a stable and predictable climate—are at stake.

The problems are now here, so we should not just whine and point fingers; we must take action as we celebrate Earth Day.

We should wake up every day to fight for it and justify its celebration. All governments, including the government of Uganda, must appreciate the right to a clean and healthy environment. They must put the UN Sustainable Development Goals first. Government line bodies, environmental organizations, institutions of learning, educators, activists, and advocates must work with local communities, women, and youth to advance environmental progress in areas such as the circular economy, climate action, and biodiversity protection.

They must advocate for the creation of green industries and jobs that are connected to renewable energy sources, a greater support of organic, local, and sustainable agricultural techniques, and Earth Day education programs with resources and solutions to create a healthier, more sustainable planet.

Finally, I urge the young people to be more concerned about the earth, to raise awareness about climate change, to conserve the world’s biodiversity, and to spearhead a just transition as we transition from fossil fuel investments to clean renewable energies and modern environmental technologies. Every day is Earth Day.

The author is Aryampa Brighton, a lawyer and Chief Executive Officer of Youth for Green Communities (YGC).

Disclaimer: We, as UG Reports Media LTD, welcome any opinion by anyone if it’s of constructive use to the development of Uganda. All the expressions and opinions in this write-up are not of UG Reports Media LTD but of the author of the article.

Would you like to share your opinion with us? Please share it with this email: theugreports@gmail.com.

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