Happy World Environment Day 2020!

5th June 2020 marks the 46th anniversary for us to celebrate World Environment Day together! It is one of the most renowned day in the environmental landscape. The theme for this year is biodiversity. Probably some of you might as - What is biodiversity? And why is it so important and how can it be related to human.

Biodiversity is the foundation that supports all life on land and below water. It simply affects every single aspect of human, including health & medicine, basic necessities for example clean air, water and food and climate change mitigation. The food we consume, the air we breathe, the water we drink and the climate that support us are all from the nature.

With 1 million species facing extinction, there has never been a more important time to focus on biodiversity.”

Biodiversity should be a concern that is urgent and existential. The current climate crisis has served as a warning that we must heed collectively. We must fundamentally rethink and redefine our relationship with the living planet, with natural ecosystems and the biodiversity. Human actions, including deforestation, destroying and pollute the ecosystem, intensified agriculture, encroachment on wildlife habitats has pushed the nature beyond its limits.

Given the current global pandemic of COVID-19, it has indirectly given us a message that when we destroy the biodiversity, we have destroyed the system that supports human life. According to World Health Organization report, million cases of illness and thousands of deaths are caused by Coronaviruses, and almost 75 percent of all are emerging infectious diseases in human are zoonotic, the patients are transmitted to people by animals. The nature is sending us a message.

When we talk about Penang, the first thing that pops up our mind will be - Food! However, we are also rich in biodiversity! In Penang, according to The Habitat Foundation, the Penang Hill Biosphere Reserve consists of important natural habitats with high species richness and diversity. Based on the biodiversity data gathered to date, 2456 species of plants from 206 families are founded in here. However, sadly around 20 species are on the International Union for Conservation of nature’s (IUCN) Red list, including four that are listed as critically endangered. As for animal, there are more than 550 animal species have been recorded and found within the proposed Biosphere Reserve. Endangered fauna known from this area include marine species for example sea turtles, Irrawaddy dolphins near the shorelines. Can you imagine spotting dolphins in Penang?

Thus, it’s time to Wake Up, Understand and Take Action! Let’s start practising green initiatives, recycling & upcycling, rethink and be more mindful of our consumption, protect our nature by restoration of habitat, opting for sustainable products and more. In addition, on this meaningful day, Penang Green Council will support and stand together with PBAPP in urging the Kedah Government to reconsider the proposal on reopening of logging concessions in Ulu Muda, Kedah. Apart from the impact on water security and climatic change, it will also destroy the biodiversity and ecosystem in Ulu Muda rainforest.

Let’s be the voice for the voiceless. No man is an island, every one of us has an important role to play to assure and ensure we do not pass the world beyond repair to our children. It’s time to rebuild for the betterment of Our People and Our Planet. Happy World Environment Day!

Josephine Tan

General Manager

Penang Green Council