CESAM Celebrates World Environment Day with Public Event

On June 5th, 2023, World Environment Day was celebrated, in a year that also marks the 50th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), the organization responsible for the annual celebration of this date. The establishment of this organization in 1973 came a year after the first global conference on the environment, the ‘United Nations Conference on the Human Environment’. Bringing together 122 countries, this conference marked the first time that the environment became a truly global issue.

Over the years, the celebration of this date has brought together civil society organizations, academia, industry, and political power, becoming one of the largest global platforms for environmental awareness. In 2023, the celebration of this day focused on the theme of plastic pollution, under the slogan “Combat Plastic Pollution,” with the host countries being the Republic of Côte d’Ivoire and the Netherlands.

The Center for Environmental and Marine Studies (CESAM) at the University of Aveiro (UA) participated in this celebration with a public event that included the opening of a photographic exhibition and a series of speakers who addressed the building of partnerships for a sustainable future. This event took place between 10:30 and 13:00 at the University of Aveiro’s Rectorate Building.

At 11:00, the photographic exhibition “Bichos de cá, Bichos de lá” (“Critters from Here, Critters from There”) was inaugurated, with interventions from Paulo Jorge Ferreira, Rector of the University of Aveiro, José Luis Cordeiro, Researcher at the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Brazil), and Amadeu Soares, Scientific Coordinator of CESAM.

The photographic exhibition “Bichos de cá, Bichos de lá” is the result of a partnership between CESAM-UA (Portugal), Oswaldo Cruz Foundation (Fiocruz, Brazil), and Osuwela Association (Mozambique), and is available for all interested parties until June 30th, 2023, in the atrium of the University of Aveiro’s Rectorate Building.

This exhibition consists of a presentation with 41 panels that address concepts, behaviors, and conservation aspects with examples of fauna species from Portugal, Brazil, and Mozambique. Visitors can observe how nature unites these three countries and speaks a common language through similarities in the functions performed by different species in these countries.

Partnerships for a Sustainable Future

As the UNEP states, “The rapid growth of plastic pollution levels represents a serious global threat, negatively impacting the environmental, social, and economic dimensions of sustainable development. If the current trend continues, the amount of plastic waste entering aquatic ecosystems could nearly triple: from 9 to 14 million tons per year in 2016 to between 27 to 37 million tons per year in 2040.”

In this context, the commemorative session, under the theme “Partnerships for a Sustainable Future,” also included a lecture directly related to the issue of plastic pollution and presented a set of guests who discussed possible strategic partnerships, current and future opportunities, as well as mechanisms to establish and/or strengthen them (e.g., European Union missions).

Speakers included Jorge Ferrão, Rector of the Pedagogical University of Maputo, Mozambique; Maria de Jesus Fernandes, President of the Order of Biologists; Márcia Chame, Researcher, Biodiversity and Wild Health Institutional Platform, Presidency of the Oswaldo Cruz Foundation, Brazil; Teresa Rocha Santos, Researcher, CESAM/DQ, University of Aveiro; Teresa Pinto Correia, “Soil Missions” of the EU, Full Professor, MED-CHANGE, University of Évora; Helena Vieira, “Ocean and Water Missions” of the EU, researcher CESAM/DAO, University of Aveiro; Mariana Alves, Co-director of the program “Letters with Science” and researcher CIDTFF, University of Aveiro.

For more information about the event program, you can consult here, and you can find some of its most significant moments (recorded on social media) here: Twitter 1 / Twitter 2 / Twitter 3.

You can also read an interview with two CESAM researchers whose work is related to the theme of plastic pollution here.