Today we celebrate the one that has hold us, nurtured us and kept us alive. A powerful and ever-present Mother, that has also witnessed our mistakes and successes, giving us unbounded opportunities to make things right.
This date and the current context, is a stark reminder, that now is our time to reciprocate and take care of this marvellous Mother called Planet Earth.
Celebrated every year on April 22, Earth Day was born 51 years ago, as a modern environmental movement. With the constant media evolution, its celebration has spread worldwide, to foster and promote the importance of sustainability and environmental protection and conservation.
Earth Day originated with an environmental movement in the United States, led by Wisconsin Senator Gaylord Nelson. When struggling to garner political interest in environmental protection, he turned to people, proposing April 22 as a day to speak out about the issue. Nelson also enlisted the help of young activist Denis Hayes, organising a nationwide rally, that marked the first Earth Day, with different institutions such as colleges and even religious groups, joining in. This resulted in 20 million Americans joining the movement to protect land and land rights. Moreover, the massive resulting public support then forced Nelson’s fellow politicians to take notice, catalysing the creation of some of the most important US environmental legislation.
Since then, activist groups, as well as movements for a more sustainable and less polluting world, have increased. In 1990, Earth Day went global, with a total of 200 million participants in 141 different countries. Earth Day in the new millennium took on a new perspective. The internet made it possible to and mobilise and organise a larger number of activists and initiatives, that by then were already facing even worse challenges than in the ’70s.
Nowadays, a dystopian perspective must be faced, one that includes global warming as a result of the greenhouse gases effect, microplastics pollution in the oceans and overexploitation of natural resources. These problems are also highly exacerbated by the fact that there are still people oblivious to the situation or conveniently claiming that the problem does not exist.
The introduction of a mindset that directs human behaviour into a greener and more sustainable path also benefits Tourism. The future of Tourism must be invariably guided by sustainability principles. This concept, within the evolution of tourism, has become a fundamental issue, from the outset of mass tourism, pioneered by the father of tourism, Thomas Cook. A path for a tourism that disregarded a sustainable agreement was marked, leaving a historical destruction trail on some tourism destinations, resulting in social as well as economic and environmental problems.
Introducing sustainability in tourism, which considers both the tourism industry and local communities, allows for creating a more harmonious environment where tourism is no longer intrusive and aggressive, but a fundamental part of the development of the destinations.
Sustainable practices within tourism is a concept formulated some decades ago, that tries to enable the inherent need of the human being to travel while enhancing the awareness towards respecting the environment and the well-being of local communities. It is thus, both a fundamental part of tourism studies and an essential tool for the sustainable development of the industry and destinations.
Thanks to new forms of communication and respective information dissemination, environmental awareness, has managed to grow. It is, however, necessary to reach more people, to build a legacy of good practices that can ensure a good future for the following generations, which requires a shift to a more people and planet-friendly sustainable economy.
Natural resources are also quickly running out and so is the time, we must change the current state of the world. Earth Day provides us with an opportunity to both reflect and think of ways to introduce sustainable practices in our daily lives. It’s in our hands to change the future of the planet.
April 22, similarly to New Year’s Eve, is a day to make pledges. Not pledges of wealth, the pursuit of happiness or others self-wishes. It is time to pledge for the protection of the planet.
On this year’s Earth Day message, UN Secretary-General António Guterres has called for a commitment to restoring the planet and making peace with nature. “On International Mother Earth Day, let us all commit to the hard work of restoring our planet and making peace with nature”, he states.
This planet belongs to all of us. We need to lovingly treat it as a home, but most of all as a Mother.
We love you, Mother Earth!