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English : World Days Calendar : June

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  1. World Responsible Tourism Day : June 2nd
  2. World Environment Day : June 5th
  3. What is the Environment?
  4. Helping our Planet
  5. World Ocean Day : June 8th
  6. World Day Against Child Labour : June 12th
  7. World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought : June 17th
  8. World Refugee Day : June 20th
  9. National Aboriginal Day : June 21st
  10. St-Jean-Baptiste Day : Quebec's National Day : June 24th
  11. International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking : June 26th
  12. International Day in Support of Victims of Torture : June 26th

World Responsible Tourism Day : June 2nd

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World Environment Day : June 5th

Description of the day :

World Environment Day

 

World Environment Day is celebrated every year on the 5th of June.The Millennium Ecosystem Assessment carried out by the United Nations shows that more than 60% of the world’s ecosystems are in the process of being degraded, or have already been damaged to the point that they no longer are able perform their natural functions. This day is one of the United Nations’ main ways of raising awareness and encouraging political action on environmental issues. 

 

 

 

What is the Environment?

According to the Oxford dictionary the environment is « the surroundings or conditions in which a person, animal, or plant lives or operates. » Thus, the environment is the surroundings in which humans evolved; it includes the air, water, soil, natural resources, other beings and life, fungus, microbes, ecosystems and the biosphere

   

How healthy is our Planet?

Grave environmental problems affect the lives and our planet. We are facing a host of environmental problems such as diverse forms of pollution, climate change, a thinning ozone layer, decreasing fresh water reserves, excessive deforestation, desertification and decreasing soil quality, and loss of biodiversity among many other problems.

  

 Did you know that:

§  According to the World Health Organization, 1.5 billion citizens are subjected to levels of atmospheric pollution that are higher than the maximum recommended levels.

§  Carbon dioxide, the main greenhouse gas responsible for climate change, is created by emissions from electricity production, heavy industry, and transportation.

§  Climate change threatens coastal and low-altitude cities due to rising sea levels, and the increasing frequency and intensity of storms.

§  Increasing desertification of land around the world threatens to displace millions of peasants, who must search for new land and livelihoods. Desertification and drought cause food insecurity, famine, and poverty among other things.  

§  Oftentimes, developing nations lack the necessary infrastructure to manage their garbage waste properly.

§  Each year, plastic waste causes the death of 1 million birds, 100,000 marine mammals, and immeasurable numbers of fish.

§  Urban streams, waste from factories, and waste from ship ballast tanks discharge 21 million barrels of oil into the oceans each year.

 

Our interdependent relationship with the Environment.

Our health is directly linked to that of the environment. In affecting the environment, we also affect our own health, and the health of others. Failing to protect the environment creates a vicious circle; if natural resources are over-consumed and the environment is degraded, people suffer and economies decline. Poor populations and weak national economies generally result in a neglected environment, and so the cycle continues. With respect to the environment, sustainable development means that the present generation’s needs are met, without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their needs.

    

Helping our Planet

World Environment Day began in 1972, on the same day that the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) was created. UNEP is the highest environmental authority in the UN. Its mission is to lead the way and encourage cooperation on environmental protection. It acts as a source of inspiration and information, and as a mechanism to improve quality of life today, without compromising the quality of life of generations to come. To this end, UNEP collaborates with many partners, including other branches of UN, international organizations, governments, non-governmental organizations, the private sector, and civil society.

  

                                                       

Pedagogical Tools :

Environment - Lesson Plans

What you can do :

Action 1

Use public transport, carpool, or exercise while getting to where you want to go (walk, jog, bike, or in-line skate); it’s good for your health! You’ll also be minimizing greenhouse gas emissions.

Action 2

Avoid disposable products such as baby wipes, disposable tissues, and disposable table cloths. Also, avoid buying products with excessive packaging, and compost at home. You’ll reduce the amount of garbage created, whether recyclable or not, thus reducing pressure on the environment.

Action 3

Save water and energy by using efficient lightbulbs, by using the washing machine or dishwasher only when they are filled to capacity, and by hanging your cloths up to dry. Visit the following website for more eco-friendly tips.

Action 4

Into practice put the method of the 3 R: Reduce, re-uses and recycles.

For example:

  • Avoid products in aerosol
  • Make your races with reusable bags
  • Use recycled paper
  • Uilise a box with buffet instead of disposable bags
  • Selected of the rechargeable batteries
  • Organize a sale of garage to give one second life to the objects that you and your family
    do not use any more, etc

Action 5

Imply yourself in an environmental organization of your school or your medium. You will meet there people who have in heart the safeguarding of our planet and which will propose you tools and actions for better including/understanding and acting.


World Ocean Day : June 8th

Description of the day :

World Ocean Day

 

 

All over the world, we celebrate World Ocean Day each year on June 8th. The day was created in 1992 at the Earth Summit in Rio de Janeiro. Moreover, it was Canada that proposed the idea of an official day that would place oceans in the foreground. Although the day experienced humble beginnings, more and more awareness-raising activities are organized on the 8th of June.

World Ocean Day is the perfect time to remind ourselves of the role of oceans as life sources all over the world. It is also an opportunity to become conscious of our daily actions and their possible effects on the planet’s water reserves. The day provides us the opportunity to reflect on the exploitation of maritime resources and the pollution produced by human activity.

 

The Blue Planet

It is sometimes said that Earth bears a strange name since it is more than 70% covered by water. Seen from space, one would hardly notice the areas of land amidst the vastness of the oceans. By observing the disposition of waters and by studying water currents, scientists have divided this immense planetary ocean into five parts. These are the Pacific, Atlantic, Arctic, Indian and Southern Oceans. This last ocean is less known because the experts did not officially name it until 2000.

The Importance of the Ocean

Maintaining the stability of marine ecosystems is a way of preserving an important means of fighting climate change. The ocean plays an important role in storing the carbon dioxide present in the atmosphere. The microorganisms living in the sea retain this greenhouse gas at a much higher level than terrestrial plants. It is therefore the ocean, not the forests, that we should call the lung of the Earth!

The ocean is also an incomparable food source: it provides fish, seaweed and crustaceans to populations all over the world. In certain African or Asian coastal countries, the sea provides the largest part of the food people consume. Therefore, the survival of these people largely depends on the wellbeing of the ocean and of the organisms that it holds.

The Wrongdoings of Human Activity

Unfortunately, this precious resource is often overexploited; human consumption can become a real danger for aquatic life. Numerous observers are sending out warning cries regarding this issue. Indeed, several species of fish and marine mammals are currently in the process of disappearing due to over fishing. The number of species affected by water pollution is also great: it is believed that more than half of the animals living in the sea suffer heavily due to human activity.

Presently, certain countries in the process of industrialization are developing so quickly that they are spending very little time worrying about the environment. Water pollution is therefore disastrous in certain regions of the world, such as India and China.

An Area to Protect

We can all act for the wellbeing of our oceans. We must first remember that all bodies of water end up dumping their contents into the sea. Therefore, the pollution of the smallest river has long-term consequences on the health of the oceans. All over the world, groups of citizens form to protect their bodies of water from pollution. In Quebec, the coalition Eau-Secours is one of these groups that monitor whether lakes and rivers are exploited ecologically.

Oil spills are undoubtedly the most striking examples of oceanic pollution since they are highly visible. It is true that the consequences of such oil catastrophes are destructive for ecosystems and that the coastal regions often take decades to erase all traces of the disaster. By consuming gasoline less and less, in the long run we can decrease the chances of similar disasters occurring again.

 

World Ocean Day is certainly not one of the most recognized international days; The UN is delaying its active support for it. Nevertheless, the sea is the largest ecosystem in the world and its impact on our lives is immense. On the 8th of June, it is our responsibility to remind ourselves of the tremendous benefits that humanity gains from oceans. It is also an opportunity to remember that the protection of maritime spaces is as important as the conservation of terrestrial expanses.

What you can do :

Action 1

Despite being in existence for fourteen years, the UN has not included World Ocean Day in its calendar of international days. Several groups fighting for the protection of oceans are feverishly working away so that World Ocean Day benefits from the official support of the UN. You can support World Ocean Day by signing the online petition.

Action 2

When you go to the beach, act responsibly. Do not litter because they just might get dragged out at sea. Stay wary of not damaging ocean-bound species or those living on the beach. Set out to clean up your traces as much as possible to reduce the environmental impact of your presence in the area.


World Day Against Child Labour : June 12th

Description of the day :

World Day Against Child Labour

The International Labour Organization launched the first World Day Against Child Labour in 2002 to highlight the many abuses that child labourers face. This special day takes place every year on the 12th of June, and its goal is to create and sustain a world-wide movement to fight against child labour.  According to the International Labour Organization (ILO), working against child labour and exploitation is one of the most urgent challenges facing us at this time. In 2007, there are more than 200 million children working around the world. These children perform tasks and engage in activities that are harmful to their mental, physical, and emotional development. They are obliged to work because their survival and that of their families depends on it.

 

   

What is Child Labour?
Not all the chores that children perform necessarily constitute child labour. For example, helping parents around the house, working in the family business under certain conditions, or earning a bit of pocket money outside of school hours or during summer holidays is not considered to be child labour.

Rather, the concept of “child labour” is a collection of activities that deny children of their childhood, potential, and dignity, and harms their schooling, health, and their physical and mental development.

Here are a few examples of situations and tasks that are very risky, and that should never be performed by children, yet unfortunately are regularly assigned to them:

  •          The preparation, handling, and application of toxic pesticides,
  •          The use of dangerous or sharp tools,
  •          Work in extreme temperatures,
  •          The operation of powerful agricultural machines and heavy machinery,
  •          Long work hours.

The majority of child workers: agriculture
On a global scale, most children work in agriculture. This sector employs 132 million little girls and boys between the ages of 5 and 14, thus representing 70% of children working around the world. These children help to produce the food and beverages that we consume: cereals, cocoa, coffee, fruits, sugar, palm oil, rice, tea, tobacco and vegetables, raising livestock, etc. Did you know that the agricultural sector is one of the most dangerous of work sectors, especially for children?

However, not all activities performed by children in the agricultural sector are harmful to their health. Tasks that are appropriate for the child’s age, and that do not interfere with their schooling or pleasure, can be considered as an integral part of normal rural life.

A Breath of Hope
The International Labour Organization is set on progressively eliminating all forms of child labour in the world, while prioritizing the elimination of the most dangerous forms of work. Strategies to achieve this goal emphasize the reduction of poverty, because when parents have the choice, they prefer that their children enjoy their childhood rather than work. To reduce child labour, the ILO promotes opportunities for parents to secure decent employment for themselves, and works to improve educational facilities in order to increase access to education. Further, the ILO fights to have the laws respected: many countries have laws that protect children from labour and exploitation but they are sometimes ignored or even not applied.

United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child
The United Nations Convention on the Rights of the Child is a legal contract that governments sign promising that they will protect the rights of all children. The Convention stipulates that every child, including you, has a right to education, to play, and to real protection from exploitation and work.

Source: International Labour Organization

 

Pedagogical Tools : 

Instructive Tool Kit : The Exploitation of Child Labour

What you can do :

Action 1

Many people are completely ignorant of the fact that millions of children around the world have to work. Organize an information kiosk to provide the most people possible with information on child labour. You can even organize this activity at your school. Speak to your teacher or principal first!

 

Action 2

Try to imagine what your life would be like if you had to work long hours every day. Compare your daily schedule (school, homework, games, family time) to that of a child who spends most of their life working. 

 

Action 3

Stay abreast of the child labour issue by following news on the subject. The International Labour Organization’s website provides numerous documents that address different aspects of the problem.


Action 4

Whether you’re buying clothing items or any other products, ask beforehand for their country of origin. Moreover, gather information what kind of labour manufactured some of the common objects which can be found at home, and on the working conditions through which they were assembled. Refuse to purchase any products which at any point involved child labour. To help you out in your research, you can visit the following website.  


World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought : June 17th

Description of the day :

World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought

  

Every year, the World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought is celebrated around the world on June 17th. This day marks the anniversary of adoption of the United Nations Convention against Desertification in 1994, which was ratified by Canada in 1995.

  

What is Desertification and Drought?

According to the UN’s Convention, desertification means «degradation of land and vegetation, soil erosion and the loss of topsoil and fertile land in arid, semi-arid, and sub-humid areas, caused primarily by human actions and climatic variations.” Note that arid and semi-arid zones represent over 40% of the planet’s surface area and 2 billion people live in these areas. Drought is different from desertification. It is a natural phenomenon that is produced when levels of precipitation are lower than normal, and for a long period of time. Drought is considered to be a contributing factor to desertification.

 

 

 

 

 

 

What are the causes of desertification?   

Desertification has many causes. Human activities have serious impacts on soils. In developing nations, most people do not have access to modern energy sources. They depend directly on natural resources such as wood for cooking, heating, and light. Thus, people deforest land on a large scale and this greatly increases soil degradation and desertification. Increased agricultural production, climate change, drought and lack of resources to properly irrigate soils also lead to desertification.

 

 

 

  Swaziland : erosion.

  Picture from CRDI : N. McKee

 

What are the consequences of desertification?

Desertification has disastrous consequences for affected populations. Here are a few:

  •          Food insecurity
  •          Famine
  •          Drinkable water shortages
  •          Massive migrations of people who are called « Ecological » refugees
  •          Conflicts surround access to natural resources
  •          Reduction in food productivity and production
  •          Children (especially girls) are unable to attend school because they are forced to travel
             long distances to collect firewood.
  •          Considerable costs to fight against desertification

Thus, at-risk populations find themselves caught in a vicious circle. Since they live in poverty, they cut down forest and exhaust soils; and this in turn increases poverty.

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

  Burkina Faso : poor soil.. 
  Picture from CRDI : S. Colvey

 

A Breath of Hope
Of course, there are concrete solutions to fight against desertification. Countries that adhere to the United Nations Convention against Desertification and Drought have committed to taking concrete action to reduce the expansion of deserts. Collaborating programs have been put in place by developing nations and countries affected by desertification. Some measures include attacking the direct causes of desertification by trying to stop deforestation and then reforesting land, or instituting crop rotation practices that allow soil to regenerate.

 

Mr. Ban Ki-moon, the secretary general of the UN, believes that we must take advantage of the World Day against Desertification and Drought as an opportunity to unite as one against these problems: « …concerted efforts to combat desertification -- by reclaiming degraded land, combating soil loss and restoring vegetation -- can help curb greenhouse gas emissions, strengthen the resilience of affected countries and build their capacity to adapt to climate change. »

 

Pedagogical Tools :

Mali: The Fight Against Desertification

Student's Handout

Teacher's Guide

 

What you can do :

 

Action 1

Greenpeace is fighting climate change and has produced a guide that shows you what you can do to help! Remember that climate change causes many problems around the world, such as drought, desertification, famine, and more numerous hurricanes and floods. To download Greenpeace’s free guide “How to save the Climate”, visit the following website. It’s time to act!

Action 2

At the time of the International Day against desertification and drought, you can prepare a kiosk  or activity of consciousness raising in your school.This will make the problem known to more people so they can take action against desertification.Inform yourself about the environmental organizations in your region that can donate free trees to plant in your surroundings.


World Refugee Day : June 20th

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National Aboriginal Day : June 21st

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St-Jean-Baptiste Day : Quebec's National Day : June 24th

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International Day against Drug Abuse and Illicit Trafficking : June 26th

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International Day in Support of Victims of Torture : June 26th

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