In the 46 years since the first Earth Day celebrations in 1970, the event has become a vital annual reminder of our collective need to respect the planet and an opportunity to reflect on our relationship with its ever-more-fragile environment.
This year, even with all the challenges facing our world, we should also take time to celebrate hard-earned conservation successes.
Over the past year and a half, governments around the globe have established five new marine reserves to protect more than 1.4 million square miles of ocean—an area far greater than the total safeguarded in all previously designated marine protected areas.
Efforts to protect vulnerable land and ocean regions are, in many areas, being led by indigenous peoples.
Indigenous communities in Canada played key roles in the protection of several million acres of boreal forest last year and are increasingly taking responsibility for the management of new parks. It’s a trend already well-established in Australia, where Indigenous leadership in land management is helping keep regions such as the Outback healthy while also delivering important economic and social benefits to its people.
And in the Pacific islands, a diverse group of community leaders—from places including Palau and Hawaii—have launched an initiative to share ideas and best practices on their own ambitious efforts to protect the sea on which they depend for their livelihoods, sustenance, and traditional ways of life.
There’s no better moment than Earth Day to acknowledge this ongoing good work.