World Environment Day: Raising Awareness on Climate Change and Public Health

Earlier this month, on June 5th, we observed World Environment Day, led by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), and held annually on this date since 1973. World Environment Day is the “largest global platform for environmental public outreach and is celebrated by millions of people across the world.”* 

It remains crucial to raise global awareness regarding the importance of taking positive environmental action to protect our planet Earth. As we seek to elucidate the impact of climate change on public health, we look at the efforts made by the Republic of Palau and observe the unique challenges faced by Pacific Islanders.


Climate change, which refers to any significant variation in temperature, precipitation, wind, or other type of weather that lasts for decades or longer, poses a threat to the environment and the health of people living in vulnerable areas. The Republic of Palau, a small island nation in the Pacific, is particularly at risk due to its small size, remoteness from major land masses, limited natural resources, and vulnerability to natural disasters and extreme weather events.


A photojournalism project conducted by the National Center for Environmental Health (NCEH) focused on the public health effects of climate change on the people of Palau. The project aimed to raise global awareness of this critical issue and showcased images of the island’s pristine waters, lush vegetation, and picturesque landscapes that are under threat from the changing climate.

World Environment Day 2023 also served as a reminder that our actions on plastic pollution have significant impacts. In excess of  400 million tonnes of plastic is produced every year worldwide, with half of it designed for single-use purposes. Unfortunately, only less than 10% of this plastic is recycled, leading to a massive build-up of plastic waste in our environment. Around 19-23 million tonnes of plastic end up in lakes, rivers, and seas annually, which is equivalent to the weight of 2,200 Eiffel Towers (United Nations, 2023)This plastic pollution poses a significant threat to our ecosystems, biodiversity, and human health. 


As a result, urgent action is needed from governments, companies, and other stakeholders to address this pressing issue and work towards a more sustainable future. We were reminded that now is the time to speed up these efforts and shift towards a circular economy. More details about the #BeatPlasticPollution movement can be accessed through the official website of World Environment Day 2023.

As the world came together to observe World Environment Day, it is essential for public health professionals to understand the links between climate change, environmental degradation, and public health and continue to work together to create strategies to protect the environment and the health of vulnerable populations in all of our efforts throughout the year. 




United Nations. (2023, June). World Environment Day | United Nations. United Nations. Retrieved June 15, 2023, from

Seema Persaud