Message from the President of UNEP's Governing Council on World Environment Day
5 June 2011 - Today we celebrate World Environment Day, declared by the United Nations as June 5. This day brings to mind, a key date: the beginning of the first United Nations International Conference on Environmental history, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm, 1972. It laid the cornerstone for the current multilateral environmental architecture, and since then, the environment has taken a central position in the global political agenda.
The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), through the World Environment day which, has nearly 40 years of history, has been a key driver for environmental protection by sponsoring specific agreements, of global and large regional significance in the conservation of the environment: Stockholm, Rotterdam and Basel Conventions and regional protection of marine and coastal environment are just some of them, and the recent Green Economy initiative.
This year, declared by the United Nations as the International Year of Forests, the motto of the World Environment Day is "Forests: Nature at your service." Forests are our primary life insurance not only for the economic and material value they have and raw materials extracted from them, but for the privileged position they occupy in our future, that cannot be drawn without forests.
The world has become aware of the risks involved in the loss of biodiversity, climate change and desertification, but despite the efforts of international organizations, nations and citizens, we should be demanding in the future, as we are facing clear challenges. We must reverse the alarming loss of species, reduce and limit emissions of greenhouse gases, degradation of air quality, preserve our ecosystems and minimize the ecological footprint. All in a growing tendency scenario of the global population as a whole, the worthy and necessary aspiration of eradicating poverty in the world and achieving decent full employment.
The planet is now heading towards Rio, the city that will host the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development in 2012. And in the more immediate horizon we have the summit in Durban. The success of these meetings has deposited much of the hopes of achieving a more sustainable economically, socially and environmentally.