Established in 1971, Canadian Environment Week celebrates Canada’s environmental accomplishments and encourages everyone to contribute to conserving and protecting our environment. It also corresponds with the United Nations’ proclamation of World Environment Day on June 5.
It’s a time to raise awareness about the importance of Canada’s biodiversity and natural spaces and the risks posed by the climate change crisis.
This year, as part of its World Environmental Day celebration, the UN is launching the Decade on Ecosystem Restoration, which aims to prevent, halt and reverse the degradation of ecosystems on every continent and in every ocean. Every person and country has a role to play.
In Canada, where we’re renowned for our pristine lakes, rivers, wetlands, forests, and diverse wildlife, we’re witnessing the dire impacts of global warming first-hand.
In recent years, we’ve experienced more extreme weather and hotter temperatures. In fact, Canada is warming twice as fast as the rest of the world, and that comes with severe consequences – like a higher risk of wildfires and droughts in many parts of the country, and flooding in others.
And since we live in a deeply interconnected world, global warming also means that outbreaks of viruses, like COVID-19, will become even more likely because of human behaviours like deforestation, over-exploitation of wildlife and global heating.
While fewer emissions and pollution due to the COVID-19 pandemic have given our planet a moment to breathe, it has not been enough to undo decades of damage. A healthy environment and economy can go hand-in-hand, but we must focus on a green recovery as we rebuild our province and our country.
We’ve reached a turning point. Now, it’s time for our governments to take concrete and meaningful action; to invest in green technology that will create good jobs and protect our precious environment and in the training, and re-training, that workers will need in an evolving job market.
As a social justice union, we believe that there can be no justice without environmental justice. So, as we celebrate our accomplishments, let’s also commit to conserving and protecting our environment and ensuring that all Canadians have access to clean air, clean drinking water, good jobs, and a healthy environment.
Warren (Smokey) Thomas
Eduardo (Eddy) Almeida
OPSEU/SEFPO First Vice-President/Treasurer