Earth Day is an annual event which first started on 22 April 1970, and this year it will be observed on 22 April 2023. The initial aim of Earth Day was to raise awareness of our environment and to address critical issues that we face. Some previous themes were 'Water for Life,’ 'Healthy Environments for Children,' 'The Face of Climate Change,' 'Trees for Earth' and 'End Plastic Pollution'. This year, the theme is ‘Invest in Our Planet.’ Today we are more aware than ever before that investing in our planet is critical to minimise the grave dangers that confront Mother Earth, our Home.

In a speech by Prince Rahim Aga Khan at the World Government Summit in Dubai on 13 February 2023, he said “The Qur’an teaches us that as God’s noblest creation, humankind is entrusted with the stewardship of all that is on Earth, and that each generation must leave for its successors a wholesome and healthy social and physical environment.”

Prince Hussain Aga Khan is also very passionate about oceans and the inhabitants that live in oceans, particularly endangered species.  His work, documentaries and exhibitions like “Fragile Beauty” and “The Seas of My Youth” have raised awareness regarding the detrimental effects of climate change on our oceans. In his address to the Aga Khan University (AKU), he highlighted some ways in which to become more mindful of our beautiful Earth. He invited us to join the brigade of human thoughtfulness and to inculcate in our societies a deep desire to waste nothing, to reduce meat consumption and to instead consume plant based, rich protein foods such as lentils, beans and peas. Man’s thoughtlessness has resulted in devastation and destruction to our beautiful planet and will continue to do so, unless we create awareness and become more sensitive, mindful and thoughtful.

"Our oceans are teeming with stunning, playful, and intelligent wildlife, but a great many species are sadly at risk of extinction... These films aim to offer a glimpse into the underwater ecosystem and raise awareness of the threats it currently faces. Through caring for our planet as a whole, I hope we can preserve the beauty, biodiversity and health of our oceans for future generations to appreciate and enjoy."
Prince Hussain Aga Khan, June 2021

We have been blessed with wonderful natural resources. Many societies and cultures have a deep respect for water, regarding it as a gift from God. Water is the very source of life for all of us who inhabit the Earth, including animals and plants. Sadly, we take water for granted and therefore do not use it wisely. We also do not seem to concern ourselves with those societies that suffer regularly from natural disasters such as drought, famine and acute water shortage. Examples of countries that are currently facing acute water shortage include Mozambique and South Africa, and the World Meteorological Organization reports that water scarcity will increase unequally throughout the world. According to the United Nations (UN), as many as 5 billion people will face water shortage by 2050. The World Health Organisation (WHO) identifies climate change as the greatest threat to human health in the 21st century, putting the wellbeing of billions at risk. Water shortage is real, and there is a global water crisis, linked to climate change and global warming. It is alarmingly real, and we can no longer ignore this.

What role should we play? It is simple. Every time we turn on the tap, let us be mindful not to let the water run unnecessarily. Every time we turn on a light, ask ourselves, do we really need to? On Saturday 25 March 2023, the world observed Earth Hour. This hour takes place each year on the last Saturday of every March. People are asked to make a  conscious effort to turn off lights for one hour, focusing on energy conservation to help reduce the effects of climate change. It is a reminder to each one of us of our responsibility to protect the environment and to be more appreciative of the gifts of nature. Let us endeavour to do this regularly, and not wait for Earth Hour once a year to do so.

Mother Earth is Our Home. It is the only home we know, and we are the trustees of this amanat that is the beloved Earth. We must become more mindful and learn to tread gently and carefully on Mother Earth and help preserve the immense resources that nature has bestowed upon us. The air we breathe, we take for granted. This year, let us ensure that we reduce air pollution so that the air that our children and grandchildren will breathe is clean. Plant seeds, saplings, shrubs and trees, wherever possible.  Let us also join the local community initiatives that have for example, clean up days where gardens and parks and beaches are rid of plastic and random waste. Let us take pride in our Mother Earth that is our home.

We need to actively and consciously reduce the use of plastic in our homes. Some countries have banned the use of plastics, others are slower to do so. But as thoughtful individuals, let us take the initiative and bring our eco-friendly recyclable shopping bags to the grocery store and refuse to accept more plastic bags.

Let us search our hearts and ask ourselves if we are doing enough to reuse, recycle, reduce and reinvigorate our inheritance and let us embrace the policy of "waste not, want not." If we can do a little bit every day to leave the world a better place for our future generations, we will have taken one small step in the right direction, which can become a giant leap for the wellbeing of mankind.

The need for urgency is upon us, so let us come up with innovative ideas that can be implemented. Global warming is very real, climate change is very real, air pollution is very real, so let us not turn a blind eye to any of them. Let our footprint on Mother Earth, our Home, be a gentle and soft one.