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World Environment Day June 5, 2024
An Inclusive Call to be Involved

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The Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI) has been represented as a Non-Governmental Organization (NGO) and has held consultative status with the United Nations Economic and Social Council since 1991. This statement was approved by SPSSI’s Executive Committee on May 31, 2024.

"We cannot turn back time, but we can grow forests, revive water sources, and bring back soils. We are the generation that can make peace with land.” #GenerationRestoration

That is the slogan of World Environment Day 2024, when over 100 countries and millions of individuals worldwide are expected to participate in online and community events to raise awareness and support climate action along the theme of land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience. The United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification reports that up to 40% of the world’s land is degraded, and the frequency of droughts has increased by 29% since 2000. At least half of the world’s population is already suffering the consequences of these changes. Without significant intervention, these numbers are expected to rise rapidly. Experts project that by 2050, three out of four people will experience water shortages (UNCCD, 2024). 

2023 was the hottest calendar year on record, and global temperatures are projected to continue to rise and break new records. Consequently, this year’s theme is as timely as ever. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, which faces 10% land degradation, was selected as the 2024 host country because of their commitment, understanding, and innovative solutions toward this year’s theme.

Follow this link ( to learn about some of the worldwide events. 

Interdisciplinary and International Collaborations

With climate change affecting everything everywhere, a wide range of skill are needed to catalyze effective multidisciplinary, multisector, and multinational collaborations. In commemorating the theme of the 2024 World Environment Day, we spotlight a few of the many relevant, pressing areas in which psychologists and others are working. These illustrate important areas for further investment as we collectively address the climate crisis at the local, national, and international levels. In preparing this statement as members of the SPSSI UN NGO team, we align our recommendations with the whole-of-society approach of the UN 2016-2030 Sustainable Development Goals (SDG) Agenda of Transforming Our World to be more inclusive and just, as an indispensable requirement for sustainable development. All 17 SDGs are interconnected, and the following are interconnected recommendations for next steps.

  1. Expand climate change education on land degradation and droughts in educational systems and to all sectors of societies.  SDG 4 focuses on quality education, which is a human right designated in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (UDHR [Article 26], 1948). Thus, raising awareness and providing education about land restoration, desertification, and drought resilience is an essential step in tackling these urgent issues (UNESCO, 2020, 2021, 2022). A persistent problem is inadequate climate change education worldwide (UNESCO, 2022). Psychologists are integral collaborators on expanding climate change education due to their expertise in the design, content, delivery, and outcome measurement of educational efforts (e.g., attitude-behavior links, emotions, intentions, learning strategies, motivation, science denial, social learning theory, trust in sources; Bottin et al., 2023; Monroe et al., 2019; Rousell & Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, 2020). We underscore the importance of taking steps to ensure that children and youth have a voice in climate change education to fulfill their enshrined rights to participate in all matters that concern them (Levy et al., 2022, 2024; Rousell & Cutter-Mackenzie-Knowles, 2020; UNCRC, 1989).
  2. Scale local preventative efforts and interventions to address the short-term and long-term mental health effects of land degradation and droughts. SDG 3 focuses on both good health and well-being including protection from harm and promotion of health. That is, the human right to a “standard of living adequate for the health and well-being” of themselves and their family (UDHR, [Article 25], 1948). Psychologists have been on the forefront of raising awareness that individuals who are exposed to climate change threats, risks, and exposures can experience significant mental health declines in the short and longer term that negatively affect their physical health including their brain, sleep, social relationships, employment, and overall quality of life (Carlson et al., 2024; Clayton et al., 2021; Ojala et al., 2021). Psychologists have contributed to an array of prevention and intervention materials to address climate distress (APA Task Force on Climate Change, 2022; Clayton & Karazsia, 2020; Clayton et al., 2021; Hickman et al., 2021; Ojala, 2023). Yet, there are insufficient mental health services in local communities, including the communities facing the worst consequences of climate change (Ninomiya et. al., 2023). Greater financial investment in expanding the pool of mental health providers is urgently needed to better meet the needs of communities facing the uncertainties, anxieties, and traumas of climate change.
  3. Take a human rights-based approach to the climate injustices of the communities facing land degradation and droughts. SDG 1 (no poverty), SDG 5 (gender equality), SDG 10 (reduced inequalities), and SDG 16 (peace, justice, and strong institutions) converge in their focus on inequality and call attention to the human rights of fair and equal treatment (UDHR, [e.g., Article 1-24], 1948). Climate change is a crisis multiplier that worsens existing social inequalities and inequities and the full range of human rights violations, which are experienced by frontline, marginalized, and vulnerable individuals and communities (e.g., children, Indigenous peoples, persons living with HIV/AIDS, persons living with disabilities, persons of color, migrants, older persons, persons with marginalized gender and sexual identities, refugees and internally displaced persons, women, stateless people, all people facing discrimination, and their intersections; Alvarez & Evans, 2021; Collins et al., 2017). The term “climate injustice” captures that communities facing these compounded effects with the worst consequences are usually the least responsible for the negative, human-made impacts on the environment and often have little say in environmental decision-making (Bullard, 1990, 1993; Chavis & Lee, 1987; Levy et al., 2024; Opotow & Clayton, 1994). This applies to the disproportionate brunt of decades-long excessive exploitation and destruction of land, desertification, and droughts experienced by communities who possess less resources to recover and have less influence on environmental decisions. For instance, Africa is rich in Green materials, such as cobalt, that are crucial for transitioning to sustainable energy. Yet, it is the importing, non-African countries that benefit the most from those resources, while Africa suffers from the environmental damage caused by harvesting these resources (Ushie, 2023). Psychologists have much to offer as collaborative partners, given their study of human rights issues and climate injustices as well as numerous related topics (e.g., discrimination, distributive and procedural justice, identity, immigration, intergroup relations, intersectionality, migration, political ideologies, prejudice, stereotyping, stigma).
  4. To help achieve the above, accelerate efforts to fill data gaps in our knowledge of the scope and nature of risks, harms, and consequences of land degradation and droughts. It is challenging to realize the other recommendations without a reliable, high quality, transparent, inclusive, and sufficient stocktake on the problem. Data on who is experiencing what and where can help improve and save lives. Thus, data monitoring systems are integral to the UN SDG agenda. Psychologists, along with experts of other fields, excel at collecting and monitoring reliable, transparent, and privacy-protected disaggregated data that also represents hard-to-reach communities. Unfortunately, data reporting is lagging on SDG 13 (climate action), including on the topic of this year’s World Environment Day. Increasing financial support to local and national statistical offices and expanding the multi-disciplinary workforce are vital steps moving forward (Asian Development Bank, 2021; UNDESA, 2023). Psychologists, working hand-in-hand with others, can help accelerate data collection, management, and reporting related to climate risks and exposures, and translate its effective use in policies at the local, national, and global levels (Asian Development Bank, 2021; Levy et al., 2024).
  5. To help realize the above, accelerate and safeguard the participation and leadership of an inclusive wide circle of collaborative partners. SDG 17 focuses on global partnerships and bringing everyone everywhere together to address this worldwide climate crisis. Building on the UN SDG agenda of “leaving no one behind,” it is vital to ensure that the collaborative table includes and safeguards the voices and insights from individuals who are on the frontlines and who are the most vulnerable and marginalized (UNCEB, 2017). Inclusive, honest, and transparent participation involves all stages of climate change planning, decision-making, and policy-making. To the collaborative table, psychologists bring expertise on topics such as activism, attitudes, belonging, collective action, decision-making, empathy, intergenerational solidarity, intergroup relations, leadership, participatory action, and volunteerism (APA Task Force on Climate Change, 2022; Clayton et al., 2021; Nielsen et al., 2021; Levy et al., 2022, 2024; Pearson et al., 2023; Swim et al., 2011). The ever-growing toll of climate change necessitates redoubling efforts to expand the wide circle of collaboration at the local, national, and international levels.

Why June 5th?
June 5th was the first day of the first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in 1972. With representatives from 113 member states, the conference led to the designation of World Environment Day every year thereafter on June 5th and the establishment of the United Nations Environmental Program (UNEP) to provide leadership and mobilization of countries with science-based policies and programs to build a safer, healthier, and fairer global future.

Acknowledgements: This statement was prepared by members of the SPSSI UN NGO Team and Expert Affiliates including Sheri R. Levy, Anni Sternisko, Luisa Ramírez, Meroona Gopang, Elizabeth Zick, Turhan Canli, and David Livert.

How to Cite this Statement: Levy, S.R., Sternisko, A., Ramírez, L., Gopang, M., Zick, E., Canli, T., & Livert, D. (2024). World Environment Day June 5, 2024: An Inclusive Call to be Involved. Retrieved from

Disclaimer: This statement is intended to represent the members of the Society for the Psychological Study of Social Issues (SPSSI), Division 9 of the American Psychological Association. It does not necessarily represent the American Psychological Association as a whole or any of its other subsidiary groups.

Some Recommended Readings

APA Task Force on Climate Change (2022). Addressing the Climate Crisis: An Action Plan for Psychologists, Report of the APA Task Force on Climate Change. Retrieved from climate-crisis-action-plan.pdf.

Alvarez, C. H., & Evans, C. R. (2021). Intersectional environmental justice and population health inequalities: A novel approach. Social Science & Medicine, 269, 113559.

Asian Development Bank. (2021). Practical guidebook on Data Disaggregation for the sustainable development goals.

Bottin, M., Pizarro, A.B., Cadavid, S., Ramírez, L., Barbosa, S., Ocampo-Palacio, J.G., Quesada, B., Poggi, C., & Zanfini, L. (2023). Worldwide effects of climate change education on the cognitions, attitudes, and behaviors of school children and their entourage. No. 299. Agence Française de Développement.

Bullard, R.D. (1990). Dumping in Dixie: Race, Class, and Environmental Quality (3rd ed.). Routledge.

Bullard, R.D. (1993). Confronting Environmental Racism: Voices from the Grassroots. Boston: South End Press.

Carlson, J.M, Foley, J., & Fang, L. (2024). Climate change on the brain: Neural correlates of climate anxiety. Journal of Anxiety Disorders. 103:102848. Epub 2024 Feb 22.

Chavis, B.F., Jr., & Lee, C. (1987). Toxic wastes and race in the United States. New York: United Church of Christ Commission for Racial Justice.

Clayton, S. (2024). A Social Psychology of Climate Change: Progress and promise. British Journal of Social Psychology.

Clayton, S., Devine-Wright, P., Swim, J., Bonnes, M., Steg, L., Whitmarsh, L., & Carrico, A. (2016). Expanding the role for psychology in addressing environmental challenges. American Psychologist, 71(3), 199–215.

Clayton, S., & Karazsia, B. T. (2020). Development and validation of a measure of climate change anxiety. Journal of Environmental Psychology, 69, 101434.

Clayton, S., Manning, C. M., Speiser, M., & Hill, A. N. (2021). Mental Health and Our Changing Climate: Impacts, Inequities, Responses. Washington, D.C.: American Psychological Association, and ecoAmerica.

Collins, T. W., Grineski, S. E., & Morales, D. X. (2017). Environmental injustice and sexual minority health disparities: A national study of inequitable health risks from air pollution among same-sex partners. Social Science & Medicine, 191, 38–47.

Davies, J., McKenna, M., Bayley, J., Denner, K., & Young, H. (2020). Using engagement in sustainable construction to improve mental health and social connection in disadvantaged and hard to reach groups: a new green care approach. Journal of Mental Health, 29(3), 350-357.

Fielding, K. S., Hornsey, M. J., & Swim, J. K. (2014). Developing a social psychology of climate change. European Journal of Social Psychology, 44(5), 413–420.

Hickman, C., Marks, E., Pihkala, P., Clayton, S., Lewandowski, R. E., Mayall, E. E., Wray, B., Mellor, C., & van Susteren, L. (2021). Climate anxiety in children and young people and their beliefs about government responses to climate change: A global survey. The Lancet Planetary Health, 5(12).

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IPCC (1995). Climate Change 1995: A report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, Second Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, IPCC

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IPCC (2022). Climate Change 2022: Impacts, Adaptation, and Vulnerability. Contribution of Working Group II to the Sixth Assessment Report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change [H.-O. Pörtner, D.C. Roberts, M. Tignor, E.S. Poloczanska, K. Mintenbeck, A. Alegría, M. Craig, S. Langsdorf, S. Löschke, V. Möller, A. Okem, B. Rama (eds.)]. Cambridge University Press. Cambridge University Press, Cambridge, UK and New York, NY, USA, 3056 pp.

Levy, S.R., Gopang, M., Ramírez, L., Bernardo, A.B.I., Ruck, M.D., & Sternisko, A. (2024). A Human Rights Based Approach to Climate Injustices at the Local, National, and International Levels: Program and Policy Recommendations. Social Issues and Policy Review, 18(1), 3-30.

Levy, S.R., Migacheva, K., Ramírez, L., Okorodudu, C., Cook, H., Araujo-Soares, V., Minescu, A., Livert, D., Ragin, D.F., & Walker, P. (2022). A Human Rights Based Approach to the Global Children’s Rights Crisis: A Call to Action. Journal of Social Issues, 78(4), 1085-1097.

Monroe, M. C., Plate, R. R., Oxarart, A., Bowers, A., & Chaves, W. A. (2019). Identifying effective climate change education strategies: a systematic review of the research. Environmental Education Research, 25(6), 791-812.

Ninomiya, M. E. M., Burns, N., Pollock, N. J., Green, N. T., Martin, J., Linton, J., ... & Latta, A.      (2023). Indigenous communities and the mental health impacts of land dispossession related to industrial resource development: a systematic review. The Lancet Planetary Health, 7(6), 501-517.

NCSE (National Center for Science Education) (2020). Making the Grade? How State Public School Science Standards Address Climate Change A Report from the National Center for Science Education and the Texas Freedom Network Education Fund October 2020.

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Ninomiya, M. E. M., Burns, N., Pollock, N. J., Green, N. T., Martin, J., Linton, J., ... & Latta, A. (2023). Indigenous communities and the mental health impacts of land dispossession related to industrial resource development: a systematic review. The Lancet Planetary Health, 7(6), 501-517.

Ojala, M. (2023). Hope and climate-change engagement from a psychological perspective. Current Opinion in Psychology, 49, 101514.

Ojala, M., Cunsolo, A., Ogunbode, C. A., & Middleton, J. (2021). Anxiety, worry, and grief in a time of environmental and climate crisis: A narrative review. Annual Review of Environment and Resources, 46(1), 35–58.

Okorodudu, C., Kuriansky, J., Walker, P.R., & Denmark, F. (2020). A historical narrative of psychology engaging human rights within the framework of the United Nations. In N. Rubin & R. Flores (Eds.), The Cambridge Handbook of Psychology and Human Rights (Cambridge Handbooks in Psychology, pp. 56-72). Cambridge: Cambridge University Press.

Opotow, S., & Clayton, S. (1994). Green justice: Conceptions of fairness and the natural world. Journal of Social Issues, 50(3), 1–11.

Pearson, A. R., Schuldt, J. P., & Romero-Canyas, R. (2016). Social climate science: A new vista for psychological science. Perspectives on Psychological Science, 11(5), 632–650.

Pearson, A. R., White, K. E., Nogueira, L. M., Lewis, N. A., Jr., Green, D. J., Schuldt, J. P., & Edmondson, D. (2023). Climate change and health equity: A research agenda for psychological science. American Psychologist, 78(2), 244–258.

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Swim, J. K., & Bloodhart, B. (2018). The intergroup foundations of climate change justice. Group Processes & Intergroup Relations, 21(3), 472–496.

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UNESCO (2020). Education for Sustainable Development: A Roadmap Education for Sustainable Development A roadmap.

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UNESCO (2022, September 19). Call to Action Greening Education Partnership Getting every learner climate-ready. Available at

Ushie, V. (2023, November 7). From resource curse to blessing: harnessing Africa’s green minerals. Available at

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