UN Celebrates World Environment Day

© UN5 June 2009: The UN Environment Programme (UNEP) celebrated World Environment Day on 5 June 2009, under the theme “Your Planet Needs You-UNite to Combat Climate Change.”

To mark the Day, UNEP released its Rapid Assessment report “The Natural Fix? The Role of Ecosystems in Climate Mitigation,” which finds that boosting investments in the conservation, rehabilitation and management of the Earth's forests, peatlands, soils and other key ecosystems could deliver significant cuts in greenhouse gas emissions and avoid additional emission releases to the atmosphere. UNEP also announced the pledge of three countries, Ethiopia, Pakistan and Portugal, to promote low-carbon, green growth by joining the UNEP Climate Neutral Network. This brings the total number of countries that are going low-carbon or even climate neutral to ten. These ten countries have a combined population of over 266 million and cover the land area roughly the size of Argentina, or 2% of the world's terrestrial surface.

A number of other UN agencies or organizations also celebrated the Day. UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon stressed the need: to press governments to “Seal the Deal” for a new climate agreement in Copenhagen this December; and for a “Green New Deal” focused on investing in renewable sources of energy, eco-friendly infrastructure and energy efficiency. UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) Director-General Kandeh K. Yumkella called for continued support for developing countries, to make their industries cleaner and ensure they are not left out of the “new green industrial revolution.” Juan Somavia, International Labour Organization (ILO) Director-General, underscored that green jobs contribute to preserving or restoring the environment, and can help make the whole economy more environmentally friendly. He added that meeting the dual challenges of the economic crisis and climate change “hinges on adjusting existing jobs and workplaces and on investing in new technologies generating new sources of growth, enterprise creation and jobs.” [UNEP Press Release] [Publication: The Natural Fix?: The Role of Ecosystems in Climate Mitigation] [UNEP World Environment Day Website] [UN Secretary-General's Speech] [UNIDO Press Release] [ILO Press Release]