Massive clean-ups and new national parks as humanity stands with nature on World Environment Day

Thousands of people across six continents are joining massive clean-ups of beaches and parks, countries are protecting 1,600 square kilometres of land, and over 30 iconic landmarks are lighting up in green in a powerful demonstration of humanity’s love for nature on World Environment Day.

Celebrated on 5 June each year, World Environment Day is the largest global day for positive environmental action. This year, the main celebrations are hosted by Canada under the theme of connecting people with nature.

The theme highlights the vast benefits, from food security and improved health to water supply and climatic stability, that clean environments provide to humanity. With well documented physical and mental health benefits of being in nature, the day’s theme encourages people to simply get back outdoors.

World’s largest clean-up

In Tijuana, volunteers from both sides of the US-Mexico border are teaming up to clean the city beach in a show of solidarity in the face of a common environmental threat.

In Mumbai, India, the thousands who have joined the world’s largest clean-up on Versova beach will be celebrating their herculean effort. Over the past 18 months they have removed more than 5.5 million kilograms of trash, transforming the beach from a forsaken dumpsite into a postcard destination. They will continue their work by planting 500 palm trees on the beach on World Environment Day.

 New protected areas

Hossa - a mosaic of dark, primeval forests and fish-filled waters - will become Finland’s 40th national park.

Bosnia and Herzegovina will double the size of its protected areas, with the establishment of eight new sites, totalling 150,000 hectares. It is also one of 10 countries worldwide making it easier to connect with nature by offering free entrance to national parks. Canada is granting free entrance passes for the whole of 2017.

Jordan is declaring over one quarter of its coastline a natural reserve to protect the unique coral reefs and seagrass inhabited by more than 127 types of hard coral and over 450 species of fish. On Thursday, Chile announced over 100,000 square kilometres of new marine protected areas in the Juan Fernandez archipelago and Cape Horn, taking the total of its protected seas to over one million square kilometres.

Connecting with nature around the world

Businesses, civil society organizations and ordinary citizens the world over have found thousands of creative ways to connect with nature and celebrate the environment.

More than twenty thousand schoolchildren, scientists, politicians and celebrities around the globe will attempt the world's largest BioBlitz between 1 and 12 June, aiming to document more than a quarter of a million fascinating creatures in their backyards, parks and natural reserves through the iNaturalist app.

Encouraged by UN Environment Goodwill Ambassadors Gisele Bündchen and Don Cheadle, social media users will be posting photos of their favourite natural places, in a bid to create the World's Biggest Nature Photo Album.