UNITED NATIONS, June 5 (APP): UN Secretary-General
Antonio Guterres Monday started World Environment Day by
calling on people around the world to connect with nature and
appreciate how it sustains us as well as use less plastic, driveless
and wasteless food.
“This is our environment. It is the keystone of a
sustainable future. Without a healthy environment we cannot end
poverty or build prosperity,” Secretary-General Antonio Guterres
said in a video message on the Day, which commemorated annually on June 5.
Pointing to land, water oceans, forests, and “the air
that we breathe,” the UN chief reaffirmed that everyone has a role
to play “in protecting our only home,” including using
less plastics, driving less, wasting less food and “teaching each
other to care.”
“On World Environment Day – and every day – let us
reconnect with nature. Let us cherish the planet that protects us,”
World Environment Day is the largest global day
for positive environmental action, the UN Environment Programme
(UNEP) said, pointing out that thousands of people across
six continents are joining massive clean-ups of beaches and
parks, countries are protecting 1,600 square kilometres of land, and
over 30 iconic landmarks, including the Empire State Building,
‘Christ the Redeemer’ statue in Rio, and Niagara Falls, will light up in green.
The 2017 edition of the Day coincides with the opening
at UN Headquarters in New York of The Ocean Conference,
the first-ever high-level global meeting on conservation and
sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources
for sustainable development. The Governments of Fiji and Sweden have the co-hosting responsibilities of the Conference.
The 2030 Agenda resolves “to ensure the lasting protection
of the planet and its natural resources,” in particular,
the Agenda’s associated Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) 14 and
15 focus on respectively conserving and sustainably using the
oceans, seas and marine resources and on protecting, restoring
and promoting sustainable use of land ecosystems.
“Our entire modern life, with its skyscrapers and smartphones,
stands on a delicate foundation of natural systems,” UN
Environment chief Erik Solheim said in remarks on the Day.
“Today, these foundations are shaking, undermined by
man-made climate change, deforestation and extinctions. No
amount of advanced technology will save us if we destroy and pollute our natural lifeblood.”
Billions of rural people around the world spend every
working day ‘connected to nature’ and appreciate their dependence
on natural water supplies and how nature support their livelihoods
in the form of fertile soil. They are among the first to
suffer when ecosystems are threatened, whether by pollution,
climate change or over-exploitation.
In line with the theme of the Day, ‘Connecting People
with Nature,’ Irina Bokova, the Director-General of the
UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, invited
everyone to take time out from busy lives and to visit one of
UNESCO’s sites – including Biosphere Reserves, many Global
Geoparks and iconic World Heritage sites – often overlying
key strategic surface or groundwater resources and which bring
together more than 2,000 exceptional sites around the world.
“All of them employ local people and have their doors wide open
to the public, because we know now this is the surest path to
more inclusive and sustainable development, respectful of the
boundaries of the planet,” she said, calling women and
men everywhere “to connect with the nature around them that
gives beauty, meaning and harmony to the lives we lead.”