This year’s Earth Day theme is ‘Restore our Earth’, which involves bringing back the earth to what it was before human and their harmful activities viciously took over. The challenges we know are unending and the problems are innumerable. We all know the greenhouse effects, various forms of pollution, natural disasters, to name a few that have been discussed several times, whether it is in school textbooks or in newspaper dailies. It is rather rare to find solutions to the issue. Most of the issues have been just limited to theories and hypothesis and there is little to no progress on the implementation front or in practical form.

Hence, now is the need to implement these in the real world and that can only happen when the youth, which forms the major basis of the sustainable future shoulder the responsibilities and carries forward the legacy to restore the earth. One of the most urgent needs is to put a complete hold on the use of plastics. It is a known fact that they are destroying the environment and marine life to hazardous levels. As this process to restore involves the youth, it is important to spread the word and make the young population aware and conscious of the draconian cycles in the environment. Private sector, individuals, governments, etc. must all come together jointly in this pursuit. Healthy and durable ecosystems should be established for the long run, and organizations such as the United Nations can do their best to play their part. We need scientific research and recommendations to compute the damage and the statistical and scientific ways to look at things from a future perspective. The same old usage of the four R’s that we were taught in schools must be incorporated- Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Refuse. Kids from the grass root levels must be sensitized and made conscious of basic things like checking water and electricity usage, sustainable shopping, awareness activities, etc. Incorporation of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals by the UN, that involves all the aspects that the world needs focus on, is essential. Nature-based approaches must be made for sustainable agricultural practices across the world, restoration of marine life, partnerships amongst the goals and individuals, living a poverty and hunger free life, etc. The world is looking forward to alternatives for clean and sustainable energy. The use of fossil fuels must be checked which would also directly impact the emissions and hence have a large say in pollution. Climate change is real and the fear that it might turn true in the coming years might sound more casual than alarming at this point of time. God forbid, if it strikes us humans, it would leave us without basic water and food and fresh air to breathe in the near future. That is the precise reason why ‘Restore the Earth’ is not merely a topic but an alarm bell for us to wake up and take action rather than just theoretically read such articles online or in books. Though the coronavirus situation has practically made it nearly impossible globally to implement them in the actual sense of the term, we must do our bit. We must realize that this is the decade of action, it’s now or never. The unprecedented opportunities must be seized and we must do our best individually and as a community to ‘Turn It Around’, as goes the UN slogan for sustainable development. Other than the UN, there are various organizations working nowadays towards sustainable development locally. The world very well saw how during the global lockdown due to coronavirus, the pollution levels elevated to healthy levels, the water and air became cleaner, the earth naturally healed. That goes on to really show how terrible the impact has been of humans on this earth, that just a little absence and mindfulness is all that is needed to solve this conundrum, being a fine testament to validate our aim and end. 

The biggest example here can be cited of the World’s largest beach cleanup project that took place at Versova Beach, Mumbai by a young Indian lawyer Afroz Shah single handedly. In October 2015 Shah was determined to remove the large stretches and piles of plastic and garbage from the Versova Beach and he was so successful that after a huge number of years, the hatchlings of turtles that had disappeared completely, started to take root and form a habitat. So successful was his campaign that he was awarded UN’s top environmental accolade Champions of the Earth award in 2016. Such inspiring stories by the youth across the world, not only in India, by various other unsung heroes give us huge hopes of resurrecting the wrongdoing. This should be sufficient enough to encourage the youth that even a single individual- you, matter and what one person can do to change the world is incredible. It is time, thus, to Restore the Earth and reclaim and reap the natural benefits of Mother Nature.

About the Author: Pratham Golcha is a student of BA from Nagpur University, India. He is a Chief Facilitator of UN SDG courses, a researcher, an author, a resource speaker and a columnist.