EARTH DAY IS an annual event that is celebrated globally during the 22nd of April to demonstrate support for environmental protection. The Philippines has been observing Earth Day for several decades, and various events and initiatives have been organized throughout the country to raise awareness about environmental issues and promote sustainable practices.
The Philippines is one of the nations which celebrated Earth Day in 1970 when it was first observed globally. Former Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Wilson introduced the idea of which due to the destruction caused by a massive oil spill in Santa Barbara, California. When it first took place, the movement was participated by almost 20 million people who occupied the streets of the entire United States to protest the environment. Despite the country’s political divide, Republicans and the Democrats aligned themselves for a joint call for environmental awareness.
In 1990, the Philippines hosted the Earth Day Summit. They were one of the 141 countries that formally joined the celebration, bringing environmental leaders, policymakers, and activists worldwide to discuss global environmental issues. The mobilization of almost 200 million people who attended the said event celebrated and debated the sustenance of the environment and the attainment of “Clean Water, Clean Air, Rich Land, and Sustainable Life.” Held at the Quezon Memorial Circle, thousands of Filipinos from various fields and professions addressed the call for awareness of the environment.
In 2008 under Presidential Proclamation 1481, former President Gloria Macapagal-Arroyo signed the declaration of every 22nd Day of April as the Philippine Earth Day. This is to raise the awareness of Filipinos concerning environmental degradation that threatens the quality of life of the Filipino People, considering that the Philippines is one of the countries that experienced massive natural destruction due to calamities that are truly devastating to the environment.
In this program, the Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) oversees simple steps on how Filipinos can invest in our planet through water and energy conservation, tree planting, waste reduction, the encouragement of the use of public mass transportation, the patronage of locally produced crops and products, and many more sustainable acts.
During Earth Day’s 40th year celebration last 2010, the Philippine government launched the “Earth Day, Every Day, Everywhere” campaign to promote environmental awareness and encourage people to take action to protect the planet. This Earth Day celebration highlighted the ecological facts and the call to action for the environment. During this celebration the DENR highlighted the disastrous year of 2009 when typhoons Ondoy and Pepeng highly shattered the Philippines. The 40th celebration of Earth Day in the Philippines was a milestone wherein nearly 12 million Filipinos pledged their commitment to the environment.
During the Earth Day celebration in 2016, the Philippines ratified the Paris Agreement on climate change, committing to reducing its greenhouse gas emissions. This agreement brought all the present states who signed and committed to the agreement to achieve a global goal on climate and limit the disastrous effect of global warming.
Recently, various organizations and communities in the Philippines have held beach cleanups, tree-planting activities, and environmental awareness campaigns to mark Earth Day.
Overall, the Philippines has strongly supported Earth Day and has taken steps to promote environmental protection and sustainability. This year, the Philippines’ Earth Day celebration is themed “Invest in our Planet” which encourages the Filipino people to promote the conservation and protection of our planet and transition to a more equitable, prosperous, and green economy.
(with Dencel Mauri Fernandez)