NEW YORK, New York, June 5, 2015 (ENS) – Many of the Earth’s ecosystems are approaching “critical tipping points,” the United Nations warned today, World Environment Day. The world body accompanied the warning with an invitation to each of the planet’s 7.247 billion plus people to mark the day by making one change towards more responsible consumption of resources, such as flying with e-tickets instead of paper tickets or riding a bike to work.

“Humanity continues to consume far more natural resources than the planet can sustainably provide. It is time for us to change.” UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said in this year’s message for World Environment Day, observed around the world every year on June 5.

The theme of this year’s day, “Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care.” emphasizes the personal responsibility each person bears for enabling inclusive and sustainable economic development while stabilizing and reducing the rate of resource use.

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A crowd leaves a concert in Paris, France, June 2007 (Photo by James Cridland)

“The goal of sustainable development is to increase the quality of life for all people without increasing environmental degradation and without compromising the resource needs of future generations,” Ban said. “We can do this by shifting our consumption patterns towards goods that use less energy, water and other resources and by wasting less food.”

Achim Steiner, executive director of the UN Environment Programme, UNEP, invited “everyone to imagine what the world would be like if each of the seven billion people made one change towards a more responsible consumption of resources. I would like you to hold on to that vision and strive to make it reality.”

“It is easy to underestimate the power of individual action,” Steiner said. “Our daily decisions as consumers, multiplied by billions, have a colossal impact on the environment – some of them contribute to the further depletion of natural resources, others help to protect fragile ecosystems.”

“We must ask ourselves what the consequences of this pace of consumption and trajectory of population growth – forecasted to reach nine billion by 2050 – will be,” he said.

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UNEP chief Achim Steiner with Ivorian football star Yaya Toure in an electric car at Expo Milano celebrating World Environment Day, June 5, 2015 (Photo courtesy UNEP)

“Under current trends, global extraction of resources is set to reach 140 billion tonnes by 2050, compared to around seven billion tonnes in 1900,” said Steiner. “This will probably exceed the availability and accessibility of resources, as well as the carrying capacity of the planet to absorb the impacts of their extraction and use.”

World Environment Day “is the opportunity for everyone to realize the responsibility to care for the Earth and to become agents of change,” Steiner said.

Italy is the host of this year’s World Environment Day celebrations which are taking place at Expo Milano 2015, which runs to October 31 and is expected to include over 140 countries plus many international organizations.

In addition to the official celebrations, the Expo site is hosting many events today. The NGO Save The Children Pavilion is hosting “Think Eat Preserve,” an exhibition of drawings made by the children who won the competition launched by UNEP about sustainable food. Cooking with leftovers, a cooking class for children organized by UNEP and Slow Food and held by Yaya Toure, the famous Ivorian footballer and UNEP ambassador, takes place inside the Bio-Mediterraneum Cluster and 4,000 children shall be participating live from Trieste and Nairobi. For the younger visitors on World Environment Day is the Foody mascot parade, which takes place along the Decumano this afternoon.

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