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World Environment Day - June 5, 2011
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World Environment Day - June 5, 2011

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World Environment Day (WED) is an annual event that is aimed at being the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action. WED activities take place all year round but climax on 5 June every year, involving everyone from everywhere.

 

WED celebration began in 1972 and has grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action.

Through WED, the UN Environment Programme is able to personalize environmental issues and enable everyone to realize not only their responsibility, but also their power to become agents for change in support of sustainable and equitable development.

WED is also a day for people from all walks of life to come together to ensure a cleaner, greener and brighter outlook for themselves and future generations.

Everyone counts in this initiative and WED relies on you to make this happen! We call for action – organize a neighborhood clean-up, stop using plastic bags and get your community to do the same, plant a tree or better yet organize a collective tree planting effort, walk to work, start a recycling drive . . . the possibilities are endless.


India, with one of the fastest growing economies in the world that is embracing the process of a transition to a Green Economy, will be for the first time ever the global host of World Environment Day 2011 (WED) on 5 June.

This year's theme 'Forests: Nature at Your Service' underscores the intrinsic link between quality of life and the health of forests and forest ecosystems. The WED theme also supports this year's UN International Year of Forests.

India is a country of 1.2 billion people who continue to put pressure on forests especially in densely populated areas where people are cultivating on marginal lands and where overgrazing is contributing to desertification.

But the Indian Government has also found solutions. While the socio-economic pressures on the country's forests are tremendous, India has instituted a tree-planting system to combat land-degradation and desertification, including windbreaks and shelterbelts to protect agricultural land.

In conserving its critical ecosystem, India has successfully introduced projects that track the health of the nation's plants, animals, water and other natural resources, including the Sunderbans - the largest deltaic mangrove forest in the world, and home to one of India's most iconic wildlife species: the tiger.

India has also launched a compensation afforestation programme under which any diversion of public forests for non-forestry purposes is compensated through afforestation in degraded or non-forested land. The funds received as compensation are used to improve forest management, protection of forests and of watershed areas. Moreover, a government authority has been created specifically to administer this programme.

Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director, said: "Over close to the 40-year history of WED, India's cities and communities have been among the most active with a myriad of events undertaken across the country each and every year—so it is only fitting that this rapidly developing economy is the host in 2011."

"India is famous for its culture, arts, movies and world-beating Information Technology industries. Increasingly it is at the forefront of some of the 'green shoots' of a Green Economy that are emerging across the globe," he said.

"From its manufacturing of solar and wind turbines to its Rural Employment Guarantee Act which underwrites paid work for millions of households via investments in areas ranging from water conservation to sustainable land management, foundations are being laid towards a fundamental and far reaching new development path," added Mr. Steiner.

This is underlined by India's introduction of the Clean Energy Fund into its national budget which provides subsidies for green technology and has been the basis for a National Action Plan on Climate Change which sets specific targets on issues such as energy efficiency and sustaining the Himalayan eco-system.

India is currently planning one of the largest green energy projects in the world that will generate 20,000 megawatts of solar energy and 3,000 megawatts from wind farms on 50,000 acres in Karnataka in southwest India. The first phase of the US$50 billion project will start next year.

In its ground-breaking report on the Green Economy launched yesterday, UNEP cites India, where over 80 per cent of the US$8 billion National Rural Employment Guarantee Act, which underwrites at least 100 days of paid work for rural households, invests in water conservation, irrigation and land development. This has generated three billion working days-worth of employment benefiting close to 60 million households.

"India's offer to host WED is another expression of India's strong commitment to work with the global community for sustainable development. This event will serve as the inauguration of a series of events leading up to the hosting of the 11th Conference of Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity. It will also flag off the celebrations of the international decade for biodiversity. This will in addition signal India's commitment to the biomass economy so dependent on the sustainability of our natural resources," said Dr. T. Chatterjee, Secretary for Environment and Forests of the Government of India.

Two of India's most prominent cities - Mumbai and Delhi - will be the venue for this year's global celebration of the environment, with a myriad of activities over several days to inspire Indians and people around the world to take action for the environment.

The celebrations in India on 5 June are part of thousands of events taking place around the globe. WED 2011 will emphasize how individual actions can have an exponential impact, with a variety of activities ranging from school tree-planting drives to community clean-ups, car-free days, photo competitions on forests, bird-watching trips, city park clean-up initiatives, exhibits, green petitions, nationwide green campaigns and much more.

This year UNEP plans to make WED 2011 into a bigger celebration than ever before, building on the unprecedented success of WED 2010 - when people in more than 112 countries registered activities on the WED website and WED was thrust into the blogo-sphere with the first-ever WED- blogging competition.











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