Last updated: 22 Apr 2022
In 2009, the United Nations General Assembly proclaimed 22 April as International Mother Earth Day. In so doing, Member States acknowledged that the Earth and its ecosystems are our common home, and expressed their conviction that it is necessary to promote Harmony with Nature in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations.
In 2009, under the leadership of the Plurinational State of Bolivia, the General Assembly designated through a resolution, 22 April as International Mother Earth Day. The first UN General Assembly Resolution on Harmony with Nature was adopted on 21 December 2009.
Loss of biodiversity, desertification, climate change and the disruption of a number of natural cycles are among the costs of our disregard for Nature and the integrity of its ecosystems and life-supporting processes. Scientific studies identified that a number of planetary boundaries are being transgressed and others are at risk being so in a business-as-usual world. Since the industrial revolution, Nature has been treated as a commodity that exists largely for the benefit of people, and environmental problems have been considered solvable through the use of technology. In order to meet the basic needs of a growing population within the limits of the Earth’s finite resources, there is a need to devise a more sustainable model for production, consumption and the economy as a whole. Devising a new world will require a new relationship with the Earth and with humankind’s own existence.
Resolutions on Harmony with Nature
Since 2009, the aim of the General Assembly, in adopting various resolutions on Harmony with Nature, has been to define this newly found relationship based on a non-anthropocentric relationship with Nature. The resolutions contain different perspectives regarding the construction of a new, non-anthropocentric paradigm in which the fundamental basis for right and wrong action concerning the environment is grounded not solely in human concerns. A step in this direction was further reaffirmed in the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (2012), entitled “The future we want”:
We recognize that planet Earth and its ecosystems are our home and that “Mother Earth” is a common expression in a number of countries and regions, and we note that some countries recognize the rights of nature in the context of the promotion of sustainable development.
Roots in Stockholm Conference
The original roots go back to the 1970s when environmental protection was not yet a priority of the national political agendas. The UN Conference on the Human Environment 1972 in Stockholm marked the beginning of global awareness of the interdependence between people, other living species and our planet, as well as the establishment of World Environment Day on 5 June and the UN Environment Programme.
In 1992, the Agenda 21, the Rio Declaration on Environment and Development, and the Statement of principles for the Sustainable Management of Forests were adopted by more than 178 Governments at the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit, the first major conference in which Sustainable Development was the main issue discussed by member states. From then on, all efforts to conserve the environment experienced exponential growth, like the Earth Summit in Johannesburg in 2002, or the declaration of 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth.
The United Nations celebrates this observance through the Harmony with Nature initiative, a platform for global sustainable development that celebrates annually an interactive dialogue on International Mother Earth Day. Topics include methods for promoting a holistic approach to harmony with nature, and an exchange of national experiences regarding criteria and indicators to measure sustainable development in harmony with nature.
Videos prepared for the commemoration of this day by various organizations in Geneva can be found in this section.
The official dialogues will take place at the United Nations Headquarters, in New York.
Friday 22 April 2022, 10:00-21:30 CEST | ILO & GEN
General Assembly Interactive Dialogue on Harmony with Nature to Commemorate International Mother Earth
Friday 22 April 2022, 16:00-19:00, 21:00-24:00 CEST | UNGA | Trusteeship Council Chamber, United Nations Headquarters, New York
Additional events related to this celebration can be found in this section.
A Step Forward for Environmental Rights in Latin America and the Caribbean | 1st Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Escazu Agreement in Santiago de Chile (20-22 April 2022)
Earthjustice, Geneva Environment Network, European ECO Forum | 19 April 2022, 14:30–16:00 | Online