World Environment Day – Connecting People to Nature

Environment

Environment

Environment

World Environment Day  –  Connecting People to Nature

Connecting people to nature is the theme of the World Environment Day, this year. This year’s theme is an invitation for all of us to contemplate about how we are an integral part of nature and is also a call for us to appreciate the bounty of nature and take action to ensure that it is conserved and cherished and does not lose its pristine character.

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Since 1974, which was when the first World Environment day was celebrated, it has been the United Nation’s primary means of driving global awareness and action for the protection of the environment and the world around us.

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Many, many years ago, much before the world was anything like what we know now, Man lived in harmony with nature. Even the Rigveda which is an ancient Indian collection of hymns that date back to 1500-1200 BC talks about the close connection between Man and nature. It talks about the 5 elements of the environment, namely, Earth, Water, Fire, Ether, and Light and their interdependence and importance. It was only much later, that Man in his quest for technology, power and supremacy started ravaging the very elements of Nature that sustained life on earth.

Thankfully campaigns like the World Environment Day and many others have started making a difference. Countries have started realising the importance of preserving and nurturing the environment and are involving all stakeholders towards conservation efforts. According to the Environmental Performance Index countries like Finland, Iceland, Sweden, Denmark and many others have made giant strides in their efforts in environment protection.

However, this World Environment Day, it is time to pay tribute to the efforts of a tiny country situated near the Equator which has turned the protection and sustenance of nature and environment into a national passion.

Rwanda- A Country Blessed By Mother Nature

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This country is Rwanda in Africa, a landlocked nation with a population of 11.61 million and covering an area of 26,338 square kilometres, making it the 149th largest country in the world in terms of area.

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The 2017 World Environment Day theme of connecting people to nature, seems to come alive in the picturesque country of Rwanda. Nature seems to serenade the cities, towns and villages of the country and the people seem one with it. A visit to Rwanda is indeed an opportunity to lose oneself in the lap of nature. Thousands of hills, valleys, lakes and rivers seem to sing the glory of nature, while the National Parks of the country are a silent testimony to the conservation efforts of the country, the million smiles of the people seem to reflect the blissful aura of nature.

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As you move around the country, you are struck by the impeccable cleanliness all around, cities and small villages, spick and span without a speck! No fluttering paper or plastic to impinge on the sanctity of nature and you wonder how all this has come about? Is it strict legislation by the authorities? How has this country been able to maintain the natural ecological balance and teach a lesson or two to the World?

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Connecting People with People and Nature through Umuganda

Rwanda has drawn heavily from its own culture and traditional practices to forge simple and workable strategies for the holistic and balanced development and growth of Rwanda. One of these initiatives is Umuganda which literally translates as “coming together for a common purpose”.

Every last Saturday of the month is declared as Umuganda day and the entire population of Rwanda comes together and joins hands to work on community projects. The projects range from cleaning the surroundings to building schools. The day sees all establishments closed and everyone including visitors joyfully participate in an exercise that has worked wonders for Rwanda.

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Umuganda not only ensures a spick and span Rwanda, but also cements the bond between its citizens and generates a feeling of national belonging and pride which is so much more effective and lasting than any legislation. Just imagine what could be achieved if the concept of Umuganda was adopted and implemented by all the countries of the World.

Saying No to Plastic

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If you happen to be travelling to Rwanda, make sure you are not carrying any contraband. The contraband being referred to here is plastic. Since 2008 the use of plastic bags has been banned in Rwanda and is illegal. Chances are you will be screened for plastic when you land in the country and politely advised not to use plastic during your stay there.

REMA (Rwanda Environment Management Authority) which is the apex body working on Environment Management in the country has the stated vision to ensure that “all sectors of the Rwandan Society value and undertake sound environmental management and rational use of natural resources in order to contribute to the national aspirations for sustainable development”.

Conservation of Wildlife

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Rwanda’s conservation efforts are focused on its three protected zones of Akagera National Park, Nyungwe Forest and the Volcanoes National Park. Of these, the success story of  Volcanoes National Park is a shining example to the World. The Mountain Gorillas have been brought back literally from the verge of extinction through constant and dedicated efforts and research of all stakeholders including Diane Fossey Gorilla Fund International. Recently the price of Gorilla Permits has been increased from $ 750 to $ 1500. This has been done to increase sustainability of conservation efforts and also to ensure that the communities living around the park benefit more from the tourism revenue.

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The breathtaking beauty of the Nyungwe Forest which is most probably the best preserved montane rainforest in Central Africa and the wild beauty of the Akagera National Park are silent testimonies to the conservation efforts of Rwanda. Akagera National Park is now home to the big 5 consisting of Rhinos, Lions, Elephants, Leopards, and Buffaloes, 20 black rhinos were recently introduced into the park.

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We traveled across Rwanda and wherever we went; we were met with the sight of immaculate roads and well-manicured gardens. There was no jarring sight of plastic or any other waste on the roads or at any public place.

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The forests were a pleasure to behold as they retained their pure and virgin beauty, untouched and unspoilt. The people too seemed to be an extension of nature as they blended seamlessly with the environment and were proud of their contribution to ensure that their country moved rapidly towards their vision 2020 which would see them as a knowledge base, environment friendly and middle-income country.

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Remarkable Rwanda holds up a beacon to the world. Will the other nations take a leaf out of Rwanda and review their own environmental policies and programmes on World Environment Day? Again it is the duty of each one of us to be responsible for the environment, we need to embrace responsible travel, responsible travel for families as well as be a responsible solo traveler. We all need to become more responsible travelers to make the world a better place for you and me.

This article about World Environment Day was also published on Huffington Post. Check it out here.

 

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93 thoughts on “World Environment Day – Connecting People to Nature

  1. Anete Reply

    These are some really cool destinations you are writing about. I’d love to see these natural parks, rainforest and all the beautiful landscapes in these magical countries. I haven’t traveled much in Africa yet, so this part of the world is a bit unfamiliar to me, so this was a very useful read. Thank you!

  2. Tanya Reply

    You taught me some things I didn’t know. It’s interesting that there are places where plastic is contraband and other parts of the world where people don’t think twice about it.

  3. Mimi & Mitch Reply

    Rwanda looks amazing. We only have heard good things about it and can’t wait to go. We love how the plastic bags have been banned since 2008, so advanced and way more than many 1st world countries. This is so great to hear about, wouldn’t know about it!

  4. Aldrick Agpaoa Reply

    Yup! The environment is the only place we live in and the only place we’ve got. We should take care of everything we have and eliminate things and deeds that deplete the essence of nature and life. Good thing the UN does these things to promote the preservation of the environment.

  5. Raghav Reply

    Such a beautiful and important post. It’s becoming more and more essential every day that we take care of our environment. I think the last few years have been good with the younger generation specially more aware of the dangers of not taking care of the planet. Could never have imagined Rwanda was so green.

  6. robin rue Reply

    We NEED to take care of our environment. If we don’t, who will? How wonderful that they are raising awareness!!

  7. Alli Smith Reply

    I love seeing the photos of the roadways and not one piece of trash on side of the road. We could learn a thing or two from Rwanda! It’s great to know that plastic bags are banned there.

  8. Cassandra Reply

    Rwanda looks like a beautiful country and I love the concept of Umuganda, you mentioned. Plus the fact that they banned plastic is just amazing. I hope I will get the chance to visit Rwanda soon. Thank you for sharing this post.

  9. Franc Ramon Reply

    I’m very much attached to the environment with my weekly trail runs and hikes. It’s really nice to have a world environment to keep people appreciative of nature. Rwanda is definitely an environment you’ll love to visit and see it in the wild.

  10. Natasha Reply

    These are some lovely pictures. they and the information are both great to highlight world environment day. It is nice to know Rwanda are making efforts to preserve wildlife

  11. Karyn L Reply

    Yes! everything about this post – yes! I love traveling to areas outside of my home base and seeing the vast difference, cleanliness, and allover care the locals have for their homes and areas.

  12. Christy Maurer Reply

    I love hearing about what countries are doing for world environment day. It is great that some countries are trying to get rid of plastic. It seems like the US embraces plastic and it is everywhere littering up the world!

  13. Lee @ BaldThoughts Reply

    I would love to visit Rwanda or other countries in Africa to see all of the wildlife. We go to our local zoo often, but it just isn’t the same. Thanks for sharing some valuable tips.

  14. Danik Reply

    Fantastic read and loving the photos. Great to hear about World Environment Day to which we dont promote it much here in the UK and I think it should be. 🙁 We need to do more to protect our beloved planet

  15. lisa Reply

    World Environment Day is so important. It’s hard to imagine all of the animals that are on the brink of extinction from poachers, etc. Rwanda looks beautiful.

  16. Susan Reply

    Rwanda really could teach the West a thing or two about conservation! I love the idea of Umuganda day and tidying up the local environment. Banning plastic bags is a good initiative too

  17. yukti Reply

    Very well written and as today is World Environment day, so this is the perfect post for the day. Mentioning of Rigveda is really so great and for us nature is God. Nature preserves us and we should preserve nature. Beautiful pictures of Rwanda.

  18. Jeanette Reply

    First off, what an amazing experience! Looks simply beautiful! Second, I agree with everything you said about nature. It is my favorite place to be!

  19. Kevin Nightingale Reply

    Great informative post. I didn’t know anything about World Environment Day until now. It’s great that some places in the world are doing something to lessen the impact on our environment. Rwanda looks beautiful in your photos

  20. Arrianne Guzman Reply

    I salute people and any advocacy related to the environment now more than ever. Climate change is real. In the Philippines where I live, we’d been experiencing more devastating natural disasters than before. It’s time for us people to really re-connect ourselves deeply with our environment – to see what we had done to Mother Earth.

    I would definitely support SAYING NO TO PLASTIC!!!!!

  21. Natalie Reply

    Wow Rwanda looks and sounds like such a neat country to explore. It’s so important to respect the environment and make changes in our daily lives to contribute to a greener planet!

  22. Annemarie LeBlanc Reply

    OMG, I can not believe how clean Rwanda is! The people really do care for their environment. I hope other cities and countries would look at Rwanda as an example of how to care for the environment. I love the banning of plastic. That really helped a lot to keep their country clean.

  23. Suzanne Reply

    I’m really sorry to say this but all I knew about Rwanda was that awful genocide. I had no idea they banned plastic bags. I think this is vital information for travelers. I also think that the country is setting a good example for other developing nations regarding environmental sustainability.

  24. Our Family World Reply

    Rwanda is such a pretty country. So green and clean! Their citizens have set an example of how to properly care for the environment in which we live in! A plastic free nation should be emulated!

  25. Jas from My Suitcase Journeys Reply

    Rwanda is beautiful! Such a great post and I love that you’re raising awareness for such an important day/campaign. It’s great too that they actually list plastic as a contraband. I try to not use plastic when I can but it’s really difficult sometimes when they’re used everywhere as packaging for products, etc. Adding Rwanda to my bucket list, thanks for sharing!

  26. TColeman Reply

    These are such beautiful places! I wish more places would remain undeveloped but with this world we live in, I doubt that will happen.

  27. Maurene Cab Reply

    I know how important it is for us to take care of our environment. It is great that we have programs like this to increase awareness.

  28. Carol Cassara Reply

    They have a beautiful wildlife which I am hoping that they will keep taking good care of. It would be nice to go here and just enjoy the beauty of Rwanda! It’s good to see people making an effort to take care of their environment.

  29. valmg @ Mom Knows It All Reply

    I enjoy reading about areas I haven’t visited and don’t know much about. This was an intersting read, I didn’t know plastic was banned there but good for them for working so hard to care for the environment.

  30. Travel Blogger Reply

    To be honest, I had no idea Rwanda was so environmentally conscious. From Umuganda Day to the plastic ban, that is wonderful! It is also a great influence on the rest of the world. We need to take a cure from Rwanda.

  31. Danielle Desir Reply

    This is a very insightful post since I had never heard of World Environment Day before! Saving the Mountain Gorillas from extinction is such a great accomplishment and ensuring that the revenue from the park reaches the local community speaks volumes about Rwanda’s ongoing conservation efforts.

  32. Jen Temcio Reply

    We in America can learn many lessons from Rwanda about living with a common purpose, working together and caring for the things, people and animals around us.

  33. Elisha Fernandez Reply

    Nature is a way I find to express myself and connect with my soul. It calms me and helps me be one with God and one with my own conscience.

  34. Gokul Raj Reply

    Never thought Rwanda has an amazing landscape. It is so green and lush. Rwanda is taking a step forward by preserving the gift of nature.

  35. silvana Reply

    Wow! Such an interesting article! I hosted in cs a Rwandan Agriculture Journalist during Expo in Milan. He was so nice and helped me in the vegetable garden also digging for a composter. And taught me some simple traditional techniques they use in his country. I will share him this article..;)

  36. Julie Cao Reply

    I once interviewed a travel blogger who has been to all 193 countries in the world and he said Rwanda is his favorite country of all. Now after reading your post, I understand why he is so in love with Rwanda. It is so clean and the Umuganda project really connects its people with nature. Forests and other natures remained unspoiled and that is part of the reason wildlife thrives. I also love your writing, so beautiful but communicate the ideas clearly. Reading your post is like read a poem.

  37. Louiela Ann Analista Reply

    Felt so close to nature while reading this… Hope to explore Rwanda as well,,, In celebration of World Environment Day, may it remind us to always be conscious about the environment not only today but everyday,,,

  38. MICHAEL SORIANO Reply

    I agree with this year’s theme that we as humans are integral part of nature and it is our duty to take care of the nature as well as conserve and preserve it in order for the next generation to rip the benefits that we are experiencing right now. It is a good wake up call for people who don’t give a single care to our nature.

  39. neha Reply

    Although Africa is often heard of for it’s lack of basic infrastructure and poverty. Rwanda is really setting an example. The environmental friendliness and the cleanliness that is exhibited here proves that no excuse can be given for not maintaining a clean environment. Perhaps the other developing and developed nations should learn from it.

  40. Zwitsal Reply

    Interesting! I wish I could visit and reconnect with the nature soon, after I finish my college studies. And continue my traveling with my son.

  41. kelly reci Reply

    After reading this article, it makes me want to get out for a while and go to a relaxing place that all you can see is nature!

  42. Natasha Reply

    I love this post. I love that you recognized the holiday and shared some ways that we can make a difference. Taking care of our environment really is so important! We only have this one Earth!! 🙂

  43. Amanda Love Reply

    It’s a beautiful self sustaining place and it’s awesome that they take care of their surroundings. I can only wish that other countries would adapt to that practice.

  44. Rebecca Swenor Reply

    The World Environment Day is a great campaign to save nature and beauty. These are amazing parks/reserves. REMA is an awesome organization that helps preserve the beauty in this world. Thanks for sharing the information.

  45. Kevin Wagar Reply

    Incredible how this country has made such strides in it’s reputation and respect for nature. I have just come from visiting several countries where they could really learn a thing or two from Rwanda!

  46. Ayushi Reply

    Environment day celebration is really important to connect people with nature. World Environment Day has an international significance as the day gives us the opportunity to discuss various issues of the environment and come up with steps to save the planet and handle global warming and climate change.

  47. Ashley Grant Reply

    I wish every day was world environment day. People need to realize that this planet of ours needs to be protected!

  48. Dawn McAlexander Reply

    Rwanda is such a gorgeous place. I have never thought about visiting here, but the animals all look so pretty. Who would have thought that plastic was illegal there? That is an environmentally friendly step.

  49. Vibeke Johannessen Reply

    I didn’t know World Environment day has been celebrated for so many years. Must have been such an interesting experience to visit Rwanda and see how they take care of nature. It is sad to think how we are destroying our planet with so much useless stuff and plastic. World environment day is surely an important day to pay attention to.

  50. Ilana Reply

    A beautiful and inspiring post! Thanks for sharing! Indeed, we need to be more careful about the environment and we, as travellers we should pay more attention to those aspects!

  51. Doreen Pendgracs Reply

    feel so privileged when I am able to observe nature in a natural environment. Zoos and wildlife parks have a place as being home to injured or orphaned animals, but there’s nothing better than seeing animals in the wild where they belong.

  52. Kevan Reply

    What a wonderful way to spend International Environment Day. I had heard about the Mountain Gorillas and the effort to protect them, but didn’t realize the conservation efforts ran so deeply across the country. It is such a progressive environmental country you are certainly right to say they could teach the rest of the world a thing or two.

  53. Jenn @ EngineerMommy Reply

    It’s so important to stay in touch with nature and get back to the basics sometimes. I love that you’re bringing awareness to this important topic.

  54. Iza Abao Reply

    Rwanda is an amazing example of what we can achieve if we take good care of our environment. When you clean as a community, things will get better. I like that they ban plastic in their country. It is possible to live without using plastics but it must be implemented strictly. I would like to visit Rwanda someday.

  55. Nikka Shae Reply

    This is a great post, and you brought awareness to us to save our environment. We only have one world to live in.

  56. Marge Reply

    I just read another World Environment Day post from another blog. I didn’t know that this celebration has been going on since 1974, wow that’s a long time. And I’m glad that there is a campaign like this because like I said in another blog, many people are still ignorant about global warming. And wow, kudos to Rwanda for having a no-plastic policy. That’s seriously amazing and hard to do.

  57. Johna Reply

    Aqesome post! Glad that there are people like you spread the word about world environment day!

  58. Bhusha Reply

    I have to agree! Originally our ancestors worshipped the 5 elements of nature as primary Gods! How thoughtful and meaningful! Its a pity we’re ignoring their wisdom! Good to know about Rwanda’s efforts in conserving nature and being one with it!

  59. Chasing Potatoes Reply

    Great read! Thank you so much for sharing this informative article about Rwanda and for raising awareness to save the environment. I hope other countries will also enforce the ban on plastic, strengthen the conservation and preservation of wildlife and rainforest. The world will definitely be a better place. Lovely photos of Rwanda make me want to visit this place. 🙂

  60. Adrenaline Romance Reply

    Being environmentalists and lovers of Nature, we would find it a blessing to be living or even vacationing here in Rwanda. Those wild animals, rarely seen elsewhere in the world, are just in your backyard! The world should learn from Rwanda on nature conservation.

  61. Stephanie (1AdventureTraveler) Reply

    Great article on World Environment Day and connecting to people. Rwanda looks amazing and I am happy to hear that they banned the use of plastics and how clear of trash it is there. This is awesome. We could all learn from this. Thanks for sharing and we must all help save our environment. 🙂 #feetdotravel

  62. Paula - Gone with the Wine Reply

    This is such an important topic! However, I do think we need to get some of the bigger countries into the levels of Finland and Sweden. I’m originally from Finland, and people there take protecting environment seriously, but it is such a small country that it really is just a tiny part of the world. But for sure many other countries could learn from them so we can safe this beautiful planet.

  63. Shona @ paraphernalia.co Reply

    Thank you for sharing this, I wasn’t aware of the extent to which Rwanda had undertaken measures to improve their (and our) environment. The plastic initiative should be undertaken by every country in the world! Let’s start there at least.

  64. Jean Reply

    Oh wow I had no idea that Rwanda was at the front of the line with their anti-plastic laws. What a great step to take though in all seriousness. I wish Australia would follow suit.

  65. Anita Reply

    First of all I love the topic of your post. Secondly the example of Rwanda is great. I have never heard before that plastic can be a contraband. It’s good to know if I decide to visit some day. Thanks for sharing.

  66. Stacey Reply

    This is amazing! I didn’t realize that Rwanda is doing this! I actually didn’t think that there would be a country that screen for plastics but I’m really glad! I hope every other nation will do this! Not just plastic but everything else, protection for nature and wildlife, etc.

    I hope several more changes will be made to protect earth.

  67. Siddhartha Joshi Reply

    This is such a timely post and one we must read and remember always. Rwanda impressed it when I visited it a few years ago, and today I learnt so much more through your post. Lovely read.

  68. Laura Lynch Reply

    We celebrate it every year, and love it as a way to remember the environment and the impact we have on the climate. We all need to do our part.

  69. Emily Reply

    It’s great that Rwandans care so much about their environmental impact. I love the idea of the whole community coming together to improve things for everyone. The rest of the world should follow their example!

  70. Brianna Reply

    Rwanda looks absolutely beautiful! And I love hearing how they are taking steps to protect the environment. I wish more countries would follow their footsteps.

  71. Dana Reply

    This article was so informative! Rwanda looks amazing! We should all follow their example.

  72. Wendy Reply

    what an interesting article. Such an eye opener, you don’t see a lot written about Rwanda, in the way that you did. This is no ordinary travel blog, Well done!

  73. Ling Ge Reply

    Wow, I’m incredibly impressed in what Rwanda has been able to accomplish with its conservation efforts! I wished that everywhere else would do the same. We’ve been limiting our plastic use and want to continue to the point when we don’t need to rely heavily on them. I went shark diving and plastics are so detrimental to ocean life. Hopefully, one day we can be a plastic-free world. The wildlife in Rwanda looks spectacular and hope to see them myself!

  74. elizabeth o Reply

    I’m glad that more people are paying attention to this very important day on our planet. I pray that we will also treat each other with equal care and consideration.

  75. Nina Danielle Reply

    I had no idea that plastic was contraband in Rwanda, that’s absolutely fantastic! Great initiative to preserving this beautiful country.

  76. Anita Hendrieka Reply

    Rwanda is really a step ahead of the rest when it comes to banning plastics! I think every country needs to take on this rule. Great post 🙂

  77. Suzdal Golden Ring Reply

    Africa in my dream. My next big trip planned around Victoria Lake with Kilimanjaro climb. I was in doubt about Rwanda but now i definitely should visit it also

  78. Carmen Edelson Reply

    Your photos from Rwanda are stunning. I can’t believe plastic is illegal! That’s incredible. Fingers crossed Trump pulls his you know what out of his head and deals with this climate agreement. Thanks for sharing 🙂

  79. Cristina Luisa Reply

    There are so many reasons why I love this post. I love the concept of “Umuganda.” We ALL must come together to fight against the destruction of this beautiful earth and its creatures. Without other animals, us humans are nothing. Conservation and respect for one another are crucial, and doing something as simple as eliminating plastic could improve the environment drastically. Also, I really want to visit Rwanda; great photos!!! 🙂

  80. Edith & Juan Reply

    Love that this is raising awareness. I had no idea Rawanda banned plastic, but I think that’s great! The more we take care of the earth, the better!

  81. Travel Lexx Reply

    Thank you for this super informative and important post, highlighting the importance of looking after our environment and taking all possible steps to protect it. Rwanda has been on my list for a while and it’s very encouraging to read about the country’s efforts to protect and sustain the environment!

  82. Nuraini Reply

    I didn’t know this about Rwanda. Here in Malaysia we’re bickering about a plastic bag ban that’s being trialled. There they seem to manage just fine, huh?

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