In a world where dreams have no boundaries,
We gather today, embracing solidarity.
With hearts united, we honour this day,
World Refugee Day, where hope finds its way.
On this 20th of June, we stand as one,
To recognize the struggles that can’t be undone.
For refugees seeking solace and peace,
Their stories of resilience shall never cease.
Among them, the brave souls of the LGBTIQ+,
Their journeys echo a quest for acceptance every day.
Their love knows no borders, their spirits held high,
Yet, persecution persists, and their cries fill the sky.
In the face of adversity, they’ve been forced to flee,
Leaving behind homes and the lives they used to be.
Seeking refuge in lands unknown, they yearn for safety,
But prejudice follows, denying their humanity.
Their protection is vital, their voices must be heard,
For their experiences remain deeply blurred.
As refugees, their struggles intertwined,
Their hopes and fears, forever aligned.
Let us embrace their uniqueness, their diversity,
Break down the barriers that mar equality.
For on this World Refugee Day, we must take a stand,
And ensure that every refugee finds a welcoming hand.
Together we can build a world that’s inclusive,
Where love and acceptance are never elusive.
Let compassion be our guide, as we march along,
Honoring refugees, singing a heartfelt song.
So on this day, let us come together as one,
To shine a light on their plight, until it is undone.
For the LGBTIQ+ refugees, let us extend our care,
And build a world where they’re protected, everywhere.
In the radiant glow of rainbow hues,
A celebration of love begins anew,
With hearts unbound, they come together,
The diverse souls of the LGBTQ+ tethered.
Pride month emerges, a vibrant stage,
Where voices harmonize, transcending age,
United we stand, a resolute array,
In every colour and shade, we find our way.
Lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender,
Intersex, queer, a spectrum of splendor,
Infinite expressions of who we are,
Each story cherished, like a shining star.
With courage as our armor, we defy,
The chains of prejudice, we cast them high,
Demanding equality, breaking down walls,
Love knows no boundaries, love conquers all.
Through trials and struggles, we rise above,
A testament to resilience, boundless love,
In the face of adversity, we unite,
Igniting a beacon, a guiding light.
We honor those who came before,
Trailblazers who opened countless doors,
Their bravery inspires, their legacy strong,
Their battles fought, our rights prolong.
Let this month serve as a joyful reminder,
That love transcends, binding us ever finer,
May acceptance blossom, prejudice cease,
As we celebrate each unique masterpiece.
To the LGBTQ+ community, we say,
You’re valued, cherished, every single day,
Stand tall, be proud, let your colours shine,
For in your authenticity, true strength we find.
So, let the world witness our spirits soar,
In unity, resilience, and love galore,
This pride month and always, let it be known,
We’re beautiful, we’re proud, and we’ve grown.
“It seems to me that the natural world is the greatest source of excitement; the greatest source of visual beauty; the greatest source of intellectual interest. It is the greatest source of so much in life that makes life worth living.” – Sir David Attenborough.
I know that many young people, including you and your friends, are greatly concerned about the future of this planet – particularly as that is where you will spend the rest of your lives. I understand that some 80 per cent of young people over 16 years of age are very concerned about climate change, and that many, like you, have been moved to personal activism, frustrated or outraged at the neglect of the issue from older people, corporations and governments.
Yes, Earth is home to ourselves and millions of other species, and while – like a beached whale that writhes and shudders a silent scream – segments of our home world are collapsing and dying under the weight of our populations and our possessions, and I hope that ways can be found to motivate more people towards enacting long-term change.
Yes, we should get angry and do something to stop the pending catastrophe. But on World Environment Day, it may be helpful to consider nuance as well as clear-cut black-and-white.
Many people are thoughtless or lazy – but we are all constructed in a way that makes us inclined to relate most closely to the micro rather than the macro. When approaching a jigsaw-sized problem, we tend to get enlightenment and understanding (and emotional connection) more readily from the individual jigsaw pieces rather than the big picture. In the real world, we can see one photo – of a crying baby in a famine, a Ugandan family killed in an unseasonably large mudslide, or a mother polar bear and her cub struggling to survive amidst the melting of Arctic ice – and such a photo can convey more emotional meaning and personal connection to us than all of the world’s websites and scientific lectures about climate catastrophe.
So I hope that your generation – and the older adults that you are trying to educate – come to see possibly the most important reason why it is important to save the Earth: because of its beauty.
Scientifically, it is beautiful. Our planet is a shelter from cosmic dangers, built from stardust and gas, meticulously crafted according to the natural laws of cosmology and stellar evolution and gravity. It is a natural laboratory sculpted by weather and geology, gravity and tidal forces, wherein chemistry and rock and water and wind and life intermix to form a glorious testament to the power of eclectic abiogenesis and evolution.
Biologically, it is beautiful. It is a cathedral in which a chorus of life chirps and tweets, bleats and barks. A choir of diverse voices is dressed in a patchwork quilt of colours and camouflages. Combined, they form a rich tapestry that has (so far, at least) been found nowhere else in the Universe.
Therein lies its arguably greatest ethical value: philosophically, it is beautiful because it is unique and indescribably precious. In a Universe that is so big that our mammalian minds cannot truly comprehend, our small planet Earth is the only known place where life exists, and multiplies in rich diversity.
Hosted this year by Côte d’Ivoire and supported by the Netherland, World Environment Day 2023 encourages us to beat plastic pollution. I hope this succeeds – but that they don’t stop there.
It is encouraging to see your generation taking a stand – and we can understand that this is a form of evolution. Survival of the fittest indeed – those best suited to adapt (and respond) to change will indeed survive the longest. But I also see a form of social evolution underway: your parents’ generation was raised in a culture that proclaimed Greed is Good; your generation proclaims that Green is Good.
Perhaps we should all be mindful of an early recollection in my own life:
In an old photo album belonging to my parents, one photo features me as a babe in arms, being held by my mother in the front garden of our home. With a mix of determination and curiosity on my face, I am reaching up to touch the leaf of an overhanging tree – using my infantile senses to timidly explore the touch, texture, shape and colour of this alien item in my young world.
Let us all rediscover anew this sense of awe and potential to be found in the world around us. Let us cherish our home, and do whatever we must, in order to preserve and conserve it for future generations.