All life on earth needs a safe and healthy environment to thrive and prosper. For generations, human action and inaction have taken their toll on the world’s atmosphere, oceans, and continents. Global warming, rising sea levels, and increasing air, land, and sea pollution all imperil the future of the planet’s biodiversity. 

World Environment Day is a platform to raise awareness and concern about the world’s most pressing environmental issues and to take action to reverse the current downward trend. This year, the focus is on reducing air pollution, which is one of the most critical environmental health risks of all time. 

According to the United Nations, ninety-two percent of people worldwide do not breathe clean air and about 7 million people die prematurely every year from air pollution. Noncommunicable diseases such as heart disease, stroke, lung cancer, and acute lower respiratory infections—now the leading causes of death in the Caribbean—cause one third of those deaths. 

In Trinidad and Tobago, air pollution emanating from households, industries, transport, agriculture, and waste poses a direct threat to our land and marine resources, jeopardising the health and welfare of our citizens. 

If we are to #BeatAirPollution, we have to take collective and personal responsibility for our impact on the environment. Households should endeavour to reduce, reuse, and recycle. Industries must commit to cleaner, more sustainable production and practices, and individuals can conserve energy by switching off lights when not in use, carpooling, or refraining from burning vegetation and waste indiscriminately. 

As we continue on our journey of development, our duty is to ensure that Trinidad and Tobago becomes a land in which the present and future generations can live and flourish.