Norway to Host World Environment Day 2007
Oslo/Nairobi, 12 May 2006 – A Nordic country in the frontline of climate change has been chosen by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) to host the main celebrations of World Environment Day 2007.
A range of events, reflecting the threats from global warming to the people and wildlife across the world, are to be staged in Norway's most northerly city Tromsø as well as the capital Oslo and other Norwegian cities. 2007 also marks the start of International Polar Year.
Tromsø, with its strong cultural, historical and scientific links to both the Arctic and Antarctic, is in many ways an ideal location. The city boasts the planet's most northerly university, is linked with such fabled explorers as Amundsen and Nansen and holds the key centre of the internationally recognized Norwegian Polar Institute.
Tromsø is a key centre for the development of nature-based tourism underlying the important economic value of healthy and pristine environments, not to mention the midnight sun in summer time. The city is situated in the heartlands of the indigenous Sami culture, and has a history inextricably linked with the marine resources of the frozen North.
Shafqat Kakakhel, Deputy Executive Director and Officer in Charge of UNEP, said: "The Polar Regions are some of the most hauntingly beautiful places on Earth. They are also nature's early warning systems where human-induced climate change, the thinning of the ozone layer up to the impacts of persistent chemical pollution continue to be registered first".
"The Arctic is also increasingly becoming a new economic powerhouse for minerals, oil and gas extraction and shipping—partly as a result of the receeding ice due to climate change. Both polar regions are also seeing increased interest from tourism and the fisheries industry keen to exploit their vast and abundant fish stocks. These all present opportunities and threats to indigenous peoples living there and for the world as a whole which will be reflected in the WED themes next year," he added.
Norway's Minister of Environment Helen Bjørnøy expressed her delight: "I am very glad that the UN Environment Programme has presented us with this great opportunity to profile the many serious threats to the polar environment. This includes not least climate change in the Arctic, which affects the global climate. We have chosen the polar city of Tromsø as our main venue, to create the right type of setting for the celebrations."
She added that the government, in partnership with UNEP, will be developing an exciting, thought-provoking and dynamic programme for Tromsø and other Norwegian cities including the capital Oslo on and around 5 June.
World Environment Day has been celebrated annually since 1972. Over the years, the day has focused on such issues as acid rain, oceans, water, and green cities.
This year, the main WED celebrations are centred on the Algerian city of Algiers with the theme "Don't Desert Drylands". It reflects 2006 being the International Year for Deserts and Desertification.
UNEP will be launching its ground breaking Global Deserts Outlook which chronicles the state of the environment of the world's desert regions and predicts possible futures for the globe's most arid environments.
Notes to Editors
World Environment Day, commemorated each year on 5 June, is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and enhances political attention and action.
The day's agenda is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. World Environment Day is also a people's event with colourful activities such as street rallies, bicycle parades, green concerts, essays and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.
For more information, please see the website http://www.unep.org/wed or contact
Eric Falt, Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: +254 20 762 3292; Mobile: +254 733 682 656, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
Nick Nuttall, UNEP Spokesperson, Office of the Executive Director, on Tel: +254 20 762 3084; Mobile: +254 733 632 755, E-mail: email@example.com
If there is no prompt response, please contact Elisabeth Waechter, UNEP Associate Media Officer, on Tel: 254 20 762 3088, Mobile: 254 720 173968, E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
In Norway, please contact Karin Westrheim, Senior press officer, Ministry of the Environment of Norway, P.O.Box 8013 Dep, N-0030 Oslo, Norway; Tel: +47 22 24 57 09; Fax: +47 22 24 27 72; E-mail: email@example.com
UNEP News Release 2006/27