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IT has often been said that a united family is the basis of a united country; an adage that holds true in many aspects.

Since the dawn of time, the family unit has served as the basic unit or fundamental building block of any given society.

Families are often the first point of contact or reference in not only day to day life but in the commemoration of significant occasions such as birth, marriage and death, forming a critical part if the social fabric.

Over the past years, the face and structure of the modern family has been subjected to numerous and significant changes; with many deviating  from the norm of  nuclear or extended setups to encompass a range of many others.

Despite this however, the basis and ethics of family still holds true to this day; performing the role of reinforcing values, establishing a sense of support and identity as well as unity among other things.

To highlight the significance of the family system in not only raising the individual but contributing to society as a whole; for the past 23 years, the United Nations has officially commemorated May 14 as the International Day of Families; a day/ holiday celebrated around the world.

The International Day of Families was proclaimed by the UN General Assembly in 1993 with resolution A/RES/47/237 and reflects the importance the international community attaches to families.

The day is dedicated to providing  an opportunity to promote awareness of issues relating to families and increasing  knowledge of the social, economic and demographic processes affecting families.

With the distractions and pursuits of modern living such as the constant pursuit for financial security and higher education; the typical setup of the modern family is often maligned with both parents and their households additionally substituting cardinal interactions with the latter.

This further dilutes the essence of the family whose roles include providing material, spiritual, emotional, social as well as moral grounding for members.

The International Day of Families is punctuated by several annual themes with this year’s theme being; Families and Climate Action: Focus on SDG 13; a theme that highlights the role of the family as a cardinal agent for change in the face of current Climate Change  issues.

Over the past few years, the world has witnessed several dramatic deviations  in the natural environment as the result of climate change, for example cyclones, famines, and droughts to name a few.

For this reason, the United Nations has recognised the valuable role the family unit can play in sensitising and involving its members in addressing these issues , thanks to its role as a conditional  primer in the greater social fabric.

According to the United Nations;  this year’s  observance focuses on families, family policies and major SDG 13 targets:-

– SDG 13 target 13.3: Improve education, awareness-raising and human and institutional capacity on climate change mitigation, adaptation, impact reduction and early warning

– SDG 13 target 13.2: integrate climate change measures into national policies, strategies and planning.

Climate change is a pressing global issue that affects and requires the efforts of each individual to address.

According to NASA, “Global climate change has already had observable effects on the environment. Glaciers have shrunk, ice on rivers and lakes is breaking up earlier, plant and animal ranges have shifted and trees are flowering sooner.

Effects that scientists had predicted in the past would result from global climate change are now occurring: loss of sea ice, accelerated sea level rise and longer, more intense heat waves.”

The New Hunanitarian further writes;

“Hundreds of millions of people may be at risk of climate-related poverty, especially in developing countries, if the global economy does not cut greenhouse gas emissions.

A UN report warned in October and noted that food shortages, fires, floods, and droughts would put ever larger numbers of lives and livelihoods at risk within the next 12 years.

In November, scientists noted that the oceans have been warming at faster rates than previously thought  –  which could mean that coastal and island communities will experience greater flooding and storms will become fiercer, among other things.”

In the face of such modern environmental crises; the issue of climate change has never been more pressing ; with remnants visible in nearly every direction. Dramatic changes in weather patterns around the world have led to various financial,  economic and social problems that affect society as a whole.

As the basis of society therefore, and the  first point of contact and interaction, it is only essential that families all over the world take the fore- front role in sensitising members on the importance of climate change.

As agents of change, it is cardinal that family heads are essentially armed with the right tools and avenues for sensitisation to trickle the message down to their various households.

*The author is a journalist, writer and student pursuing her Bachelor’s Degree in Mass Communication and Public Relations. For comments,suggestions  and contributions email davidmwengwe@yahoo.com

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