Check against Delivery
Speech by Mr. Shafqat Kakakhel Deputy Executive Director and Officer in Charge United Nation Environment Programme (UNEP) at a Press Conference to Launch the UNEP Publication ‘Global Deserts Outlook’
Sunday 4 June 2006
But, as the Global Deserts Outlook reveals, these fragile environments are under increasing pressure from forces such as climate change and ill-considered human activity.
As well as giving us the opportunities and the challenges, this book points out the policy options that may help governments and other bodies deliver a more sustainable future for these extraordinary regions.
One of the options for deserts is sustainable tourism. As well as being highlighted in the Global Deserts Outlook, it is the focus of a UNEP guide on tourism and deserts, which featured at the roundtable that has just concluded.
Tourism is one of the world’s largest, fastest growing, and most competitive industries. Deserts and desert regions are being increasingly marketed as new tourist destinations.
If it is conducted sensitively, tourism can make a significant contribution to the socio-economic development of desert regions.
But, without clear planning and direction, it can also harm the environment and ecosystems that it is exploiting.
The UNEP guide on tourism and deserts, produced in partnership with the Tour Operators’ Initiative, encourages tourism professionals to develop sustainable desert tourism strategies with national and local authorities.
At the heart of both publications is the same principle: sustainable social development and respect for the environment and the often fragile living conditions of desert communities.
In this International Year Of Deserts and Desertification, I hope both publications find a receptive audience and that they contribute to the preservation of deserts and the sustainable development of drylands and the people who depend on them.
This, ladies and gentlemen, has been our theme this year.
Our slogan for World Environment Day—Don’t Desert Drylands-- is a reminder of the importance of caring for the vast areas of arid and semi-arid land that are found in all regions.
It is also the subject of the UNEP Sasakawa Prize, which each year is linked to the theme of World Environment Day..
Re-launched last year, this prize, which is worth US $200,000, will be presented at a ceremony in November in New York, where our guest of honour will be 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Professor Wangari Maathai.
Today, I am pleased to announce the five names that are on the short-list which will be considered later this month by our high-level panel of judges, who include environmentalist Angela Cropper from Trinidad and Tobago, 2004 Nobel Peace Prize laureate, Wangari Maathai, Wakako Hironaka, member of parliament and former Minister of Environment of Japan, and Achim Steiner, the new Executive Director of UNEP.
The short-listed candidates are not household names—though they may well be destined to become so.
Rather, they are individuals or organisations whose outstanding work in the field of environmental conservation and sustainable development related to this year’s World Environment Day theme of deserts and desertification deserves recognition and support.
Ladies and gentlemen, the five short-listed candidates for the 2006 UNEP Sasakawa Environment Prize are:
Ms. Elena Maria Abraham from Argentina,
Mr. Mauricio Puello Bedoya from Colombia
Ms. Emma B. Gabunshine from Russia
Mr. Rodrigo Hernan Vivas Rosas from Colombia, and
the Cooperative Agricole et Avicole de Tenadi Mauritania.
My colleagues have full details available for you, as well as a press kit for the Global Deserts Outlook.