International Day of Peace and its importance

Today is the International Day of Peace. Like other countries Bangladesh is observing the Day with the United Nations Organization’s (U N O) global theme,” Climate Action for Peace,”  As the theme suggests, this International Day of  Peace gives Bangladesh an opportunity  to participate with other global countries in  such activities that promote world peace. In addition, Bangladesh gets a scope to express her solidarity with different countries by celebrating the occasion with due fervor and solemnity.

This theme of the year (2019) hints the world to work in favor of global climate and to refrain from those activities that affect and cause global climate change which is directly concerned with the question of our life and death. If we fail to face it in time, or be unsuccessful to take proper measures to stop the change, dire consequences of climate change will loom large as a direct threat to this green world. Moreover, this theme creates awareness and consciousness about the need and importance to start working on the global climate before it is too late or it goes out of our control to save the world.  

Climate change leaves serious impact on earth and causes rise in global warming, heat waves, melting glacier and ice of the sea, rise in sea level, intense drought, excessive rainfall, floods, storms, cyclones, tornados, warming of surface of the sea, and death to the aquatic animals of the sea. The climate change will destroy the plants and creepers and will wreak havoc on livelihood, agricultural crops, and will cause economic recession. It will bring unpredictable adverse and dreadful weather, extreme and severe climate. Climate change can bring permanent change to earth’s geological, biological and ecological systems. This change will lead to emergence of large scale of environmental hazards to human health. 

It has already been estimated that climate change affects farming, cultivation, agribusiness, financial resources, and pure drinking water. The nature and the forest will be destroyed, birds, plants, animals will die. People will have serious food shortage and will suffer or die from starvation. Famine will break out. Many countries will go under water and the displaced people will occupy the other countries for survival. The worst affected people for shelter, food and commodities, will enter the least affected areas defying the resistance and opposition. Consequently, breach of peace will happen in the individual, family, and social life which ultimately may lead to war. People will suffer from various diseases, and medicine will not work to cure. Nature will be very cruel and merciless. Health hazards will increase. There will be air pollution and water pollution. We will have no pure air to inhale and breathe, and no pure water to drink. So, we find that climate change is a direct threat to our life and livelihood, to our individual, social and universal peace. 

Realizing the importance of  world peace and the need to  protect human rights, maintain international peace and security,  uphold international law,  save the world from the  scourge of war and climate change impact, and  the dire and dark future scenario  of the world,  the United Nations General Assembly declared, in a resolution sponsored by the United Kingdom and Costa Rica, and   established the International Day of Peace in 1981 to coincide with the opening  day of the UN General Assembly. In 2001, the opening day of the General Assembly was scheduled for 11 September, and Secretary General Kofi Annan drafted a message recognizing the observance of International Peace Day on 21 September. That year the day was changed from the third Tuesday to specifically the twenty-first day of September, to take effect in 2002. The first Peace Day was celebrated in 1982 and was held on the third Tuesday of September each year until 2002. Thereafter, September 21 became the permanent date for the International Day of Peace. The assembly decided in 2001 that the International Day of Peace should be annually observed on September 21 starting from 2002. By setting a fixed date for the International Day of Peace, the assembly declared that the day should be observed as a day of global ceasefire and non-violence. Thenceforward, 21 September has been globally observed as the International Day of Peace or the World Peace Day with various themes.

This year (2019) on the occasion of the International Day of Peace and on the theme “Climate Action for Peace” the Secretary General gives the world a message as, “Peace is at the heart of all our work at the United Nations. And we know peace is much more than a world free of war. It means resilient, stable societies where everyone can enjoy fundamental freedoms and thrive rather than struggle to meet basic needs.

Today peace faces a new danger: the climate emergency, which threatens our security, our livelihood and our lives. That is why it is the focus of this year’s International Day of Peace. ….

This is a global crisis. Only by working together can we make our only home peaceful, prosperous and safe for us and future generations. 

On this International Day of Peace, I urge all of you: take concrete climate action and demand it of your leaders. 

This is a race we can and must win.” --Antonio Guterres.

Despite the message and warning of the UNO about the global climate change, if people are not aware and sensible, but arbitrarily build or set up such structures that work against nature and climate, then the climate will deteriorate, and the people will foolishly invite great danger and peril for humankind and the green world. The UNO has issued the theme for people so that people abstain from injurious activities to climate, but act on to improve and promote global climate.  

Climatologists believe and say that there are a number of causes responsible for climate change.  One of the causes may be a change in the amount of energy given off by the sun in the earth’s orbit around the sun. Another cause may be the volcanic dust. When a volcano erupts, it throws huge amount of this dust into the atmosphere. The dust may stay in the air for many years, scattering the sun’s rays and reducing the amount of sunlight that reaches the ground. Agricultural and industrial activities also cause large amount of particles to be discharged into the air. Another cause may be carbon dioxide, a gas that occurs naturally in the atmosphere. Carbon dioxide in the atmosphere has increased considerably because people burned large mount of fuel in their homes and factories. Carbon dioxide allows sunlight to reach the earth and warms its surface, but it prevents some surface heat from escaping out of the atmosphere. This greenhouse effect may raise the temperature near the ground.

Mitigation of climate change:  Climate change has to be prevented at any cost to save the world and keep it green. The sources of emission of carbon dioxide and other greenhouse gases have to be halted. Timely appropriate measures to be taken to fight the climate change. Worldwide forestation projects to be undertaken. Coal burning has to be reduced to a reasonable level. Environmental-friendly projects for electricity generation to be taken as measures to ward off and impede the approach of climate and environment related disasters.  

About one hundred countries on the globe are vulnerable to natural disasters because of climate change. The irony is this that the most vulnerable countries have contributed the least to the total global carbon emissions, and even they do not know how and how much they are going to be affected by the developed and rich countries which are mainly responsible for climate change. Bangladesh is one of the vulnerable counties where natural disasters and environmental pollution will occur. Agriculture, crops and forest will be damaged. Air, water, and soil will be polluted and the coastal area will go under water and many people will lose their homesteads and agricultural land and will be destitute.  

Sensing the climate change and global warming as the imminent great danger, our Prime Minister Sheikh Hasina, ablest daughter of Sheikh Mujibur Rahman, Father of the Nation raised the burning issue in different national and international forums and persistently fought for realizing the legitimate claim of compensation for the least developed countries from the developed ones that are responsible for causing pollution. In the end, she became successful. The world leaders held a conference on climate change from the 30th November to 11th December, 2015 in Paris and signed an agreement with provisions to pay adequate compensation to the affected countries and to limit the global warming to below 2 degrees Celsius by 2100. She was awarded the “Champions of the Earth.” 

Peace is the prime need of human life and it is the foundation of all progress and prosperity. Peace is needed in individual life, family life, and social life and at the international level. No person can flourish and thrive or work properly without peace. In addition, to establish peace, we need good environment, security, and good relations with the neighboring people and neighboring states. We must refrain from manmade disasters which are threat to climate. If climate changes from bad to worse, natural calamities and disasters will occur. If nature goes against us, we will be in trouble. To save the green world and to save humankind we should work in favor of climate to live in the peaceful world. We must be loud to protect climate for our green world. All national and international organizations should come up with solutions to cooperate with and strengthen the role of UN to prevent natural calamities and disasters, so that we can leave a safe world for our next generations.

The writer is a former Joint Secretary to the People’s Republic of Bangladesh and regular contributor to the Bangladesh Post.