Earth Day Network: 50 Years of Environmental Movement to Restore our Earth

 

Earth Day Network (EDN) grew out of the first Earth Day on April 22, 1970, and is the annual organizer of Earth Day, celebrated each year on April 22.  Today, it engages with over 50,000 organizations in more than 195 countries to mobilize and broaden the environmental movement.  EDN launched its India Office in 2010 to conduct programs to reach out to varied demographic profiles across the length and breadth of the country—from those at the grass-roots to policymakers. Mrs. Karuna Singh, Regional Director, Asia, and Country Director, India laid the founding stone for Earth Day Network in India and the whole of Asia region. 

2020 marked the 50th anniversary of both Earth Day and Earth Day Network.  Earth Day is envisioned as a pivotal moment in history, a moment for change with citizens all over the world uniting to play a role to ensure a zero-carbon future. Each year, Earth Day Network announces a theme for Earth Day. Hundreds of millions around the globe took part in activations for the 50th anniversary of Earth Day. Earth Day Network has now turned that progress, enthusiasm, and resilience towards the newly announced theme, “Restore Our Earth”. 

The theme “Restore Our Earth” resonates with the thought that humans must restore the world’s ecosystems and forests, conserve and rebuild soils, improve farming practices, restore wildlife populations and rid the world’s oceans of plastics. Scientists, non-governmental organizations, businesses, and governments worldwide are working towards these by looking at natural system processes and emerging green technologies. In the year 2020-2021, Earth Day Network aims to build on this wave of concern for the environment to help “Restore Our Earth”.

The major focus programs of Earth Day Network in India and the Asia region is on Global Climate Literacy Leading to Stewardship

To work towards our pledge to take environmental literacy to 10 million youth by 2026, we conduct several programs. A five-nation EDN youth conclave showcased innovative strategies adopted by them to green their campuses, homes, and communities. An eBook Dialogue to Action documents the best practices. Post that, many spin-off events have continued to take place in the participating countries.

EDN, together with local partners, organizes roundtable conferences across the country to examine why environmental education is not leading to environmental stewardship. These are held in metropolitan cities, small towns, and in rural areas as well. Participants include educationists, teachers, NGO representatives, government officials, and students. The first set of findings was presented to the Hon’ble Minister for Human Resource Development. Our pan India partners include the Scouts and Guides and departments of the National Service Scheme.   

Specific Programs:  

  • Morning Assembly: Students across India send in entries of what they do in their school assemblies to focus on environmental issues. This competition reaches about 150,000 students each year.
  • Earth Murals: Students paint eye-catching messages on the outer walls of their schools. #EarthMurals aim to inspire passers-by to act for the environment.
  • Earth Reel: A film making competition for students that helps them use the camera’s eye to focus on environmental issues and translate their awareness into short films.

#MyFutureMyVoice campaign features the voices of 50 youths from over 17 countries of South and South-East Asia in the phase-I of a campaign that was launched on Earth Day 2020.  Through their video messages, each youth speaks of what they have done, the problems that need to be addressed by governments, and by society.  Each of them has also taken the #EarthDay pledge to do an #ActofGreen for Earth.  The voices are from youth from Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Bhutan, Cambodia, India, Indonesia, Malaysia, Maldives, Myanmar, Nepal, Pakistan, Philippines, Thailand, Timor-Leste, and Vietnam. All the youth featured are united by their common aim – to work for the good of the environment.  

Earth Day Network is now working to solidify this network and also expand it to phase II with 50 additional young environmental leaders featured for their environmental work. 

#Trees4Earth aims to inspire citizens of Earth to plant 7.8 billion trees by 2020—one for each person expected to populate the Earth in that year. Over 900 million trees have already been planted in India since 2016.  Many through the efforts of governments, NGOs, corporates, academic institutions, religious groups, and individuals. EDN visits rural regions to help people understand that the fruit tree they plant will shortly bear fruit to nourish their families and also earn them income. In Lalitpur alone, one of India’s most drought-prone areas, EDN distributed over 100,000 fruit saplings. 

Mrs. Karuna Singh, Regional Director, Asia, Earth Day Network shares, “EDN believes that Earth Day is every day and thus our programs continue right through the year. These take place in varied geographic regions: deltas, deserts (both cold and hot), mountainous, riverine and coastal areas, plains and valleys as well as islands. The programs are conducted with government agencies, the corporate sector, academic institutions, NGOs, media houses and the general public. Each Earth Day alone, i.e. April 22, events reach millions of people.”

She adds, “The programs listed here are just a few we thought could be relevant for the audience of Ankur Bharat, but there are several other programs that EDN successfully runs. For instance: Each month EDN commends a person and a village who has successfully implemented green projects and name them an #EDNStar and #EDNStarVillage, respectively. Our Farmers for Earth campaign aims to help farmers adopt climate-resilient agricultural practices.  Our sessions with farmer cooperatives focus on providing information on already existing avenues for funding that will help them go chemical-free, switch to solar power to irrigate their fields, manage waste, share best practices widely, adopt ways to conserve precious water, among others”.  

“We believe that every citizen on this planet has a responsibility towards the planet Earth and our programs are meant to inspire, educate and remind them of the same,” add Mrs. Singh. 

To learn more about Earth Day Network and India programs, visit their website www.earthday.org