Barbadians Urged to Pledge for WED 2014

Scaling the #WEDChallenge

by Fatin Chowdhury,
2014 World Environment Day (WED) Video-Blogging Competition Winner


With UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, Ian Somerhalder, and UNEP Executive Director,
Achim Steiner

Call for solidarity

The #WEDChallenge was designed to encourage everyone to commit to a change they want to create or embody. It can be as simple or bold as you want it to be. You could commit to using public transportation or a bike for your commute. Or find the next alternative energy source that reduces our dependence on fossil fuels. World Environment Day is really a call for action asking us to become more ambitious in how we connect with out environment. On the UNEP WED2014 site, it is described as follows:

The call this year is to recognize that we all face the same challenges and are connected and united by our common goal of a sustainable and prosperous life for all on this planet. The call is to raise our voice in solidarity with one another, particularly with the citizens of the small island states.

While we face the same challenges in many regards, I would ask you to extend that recognition and acknowledge that each of us will not be affected in the same way. Some of us have the luxury to avoid the worst impacts of climate change. As a Canadian from a middle class family, I can contest about the intense summers we may get in our cities but I cannot suggest that it is equivalent to the prolonged drought seasons that farmers in remote villages have to endure. But our common goal for enabling conditions to create a better planet is indeed mutual. I was pleasantly surprised that there was a call for solidarity in raising our voices for small island developing states (SIDS). If we can move forward with this agreement, I believe their voices can truly provide a strong impetus for action on the global stage.

My pledge

My bold #WEDChallenge pledge I have personally committed to is:

I pledge to be loud in calling for substantive climate action, and be quiet when necessary voices need to speak up.

It may sound a bit abstract or vague but I wish to use this statement as a starting point to figure out how I will behave and act as I continue to be an active environmental citizen. The reason I wanted to make the distinction between the need to be loud and quiet is because too often underrepresented voices don’t have platforms to share their views and concerns. I want to ensure that as we build the climate justice movement and transition towards a green economy, we are indeed doing so by ensuring the needs of all stakeholders are addressed.

A more tangible personal goal I have set for myself this year is to invest in eating locally grown food.

Building a community

As you rejoice from the activities you organize for World Environment Day, I would encourage you to consider the sense of community you felt while doing them. Think about how we can scale that and replicate it with communities around the world so we can connect and share a common purpose even if we are thousands of miles apart. How can we create spaces where we try to draw parallels between distant communities and find common grounds we can use to find solutions?

UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Ian Somerhalder

One of the highlights for WED2014 celebrations in Barbados was officially designating Ian Somerhalder as a UNEP Goodwill Ambassador. As I have had the opportunity to learn more about his work and his most recent role in the Years of Living Dangerously series, it’s clear that he is passionate about the environment and wants to leverage his resources to redirect attention to finding climate change solutions. It’s also no surprise that he’s the WEDChallenge winner for rallying the most pledges online - his ability to engage his enthusiastic, to put it mildly, fanbase has considerably boosted #WED2014 outreach online. Here’s what he had to say as he accepted his role as ambassador:

Ian Somerhalder speaks on World Environment Day from UNEP on Vimeo.

Personal accountability

Once the immediate WED2014 period passes, I would challenge each of you to revisit your pledge and evaluate your progress. Have you achieved it already? Have you tried to achieve it? Did you find it challenging to take a particular action ? How can you raise your ambition and scale that pledge to have a bigger impact? Do you think it wasn’t clear enough ? Did that bother you ? I think that taking the first step is great - you have taken the time and attempted to redefine your relationship with the environment. Now, the task is to reiteratively work on your goal and keep challenging yourself to raise the bar.

Write your pledge down somewhere and we will revisit ours together in a year’s time.