Rapa Valley in Sarek National Park, Sweden
© Alena Vishina/Alam
‘Only one Earth’. World Environment Day
Europe’s oldest national park is a fitting place to contemplate nature’s beauty on World Environment Day. Established in 1909, Sarek National Park encompasses 1,968 square kilometres of pristine wilderness in northern Sweden. Rapadalen (Rapa Valley), a 35-kilometre-long valley surrounded by steep mountains, is considered one of Europe’s most enchanting landscapes. As beautiful as the remote, high-alpine region is, it is only recommended for experienced and well-equipped hikers. The weather is severe and unpredictable, and there are no accommodations available for tourists.
This year’s theme for World Environment Day is ‘Only One Earth,’ a reprise of the theme from the U.N.’s landmark Conference on the Environment held in Stockholm, which established World Environment Day 50 years ago, in 1972. What’s the difference between Earth Day and World Environment Day? Not much! Both days celebrate our fragile planet and serve to motivate people to help preserve it. Earth Day started in 1970 on college campuses in the U.S., while World Environment Day was created by the United Nations with a goal to ‘forge a basic, common outlook on how to address the challenge of preserving and enhancing the environment.’ Hey, it’s a big planet–there’s more than enough room for two days to celebrate it.