International Earth Day is celebrated on April 22 to remind mankind that it is Mother Earth and its ecosystem which help us live and sustain on this planet. This day also marks an occasion to acknowledge a collective responsibility, as was laid down in the 1992 Rio Declaration, to promote harmony with nature to achieve a balance between the economic, social and environmental needs of the current generations with the future ones.
The day also sees public awareness drives across the planet regarding the challenges it faces and how to overcome them to make life in it sustainable.
This year, the Eighth Interactive Dialogue of the UN General Assembly on harmony with Nature will take place on Monday, April 23, in the ECOSOC Chamber. At this dialogue, discussion will be held over sustainable production and consumption patterns to educate people about long-term ecological development.
Gaylord Nelson, a Democratic senator and native of Wisconsin, gets the credit for organising the first-ever Earth Day in 1970 when environmental protection was still not ensured by law.
Nelson then picked Harvard University professor Denis Hayes to promote Earth Day throughout the nation and the initiative turned out to be successful. On April 22, 1970, 20 million Americans came out on the streets seeking action against environmental pollution.
In December that year, the US Congress authorised the establishment of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to work for protection of the environment.
It was also then when a slew of landmark environmental laws were passed, according to EPA.
Earth Day became a global phenomenon in 1990 when 200 million people in over 140 countries were mobilised for the cause of environmental welfare. Earth Day 1990 gave a massive boost to the recycling efforts across the world and paved the way for the UN Earth Summit in Brazil's Rio de Janeiro in 1992. It also saw the then US president Bill Clinton conferring Senator Nelson the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 1995 for his role as the founder of the Earth Day.