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Pittsburgh announces regional WED celebrations

The Pittsburgh World Environment Day Partnership has announced plans for more than 65 regional events and activities to promote environmental awareness and action during the six weeks that “bridge the gap” between the 40th anniversary of Earth Day on April 22 and World Environment Day on June 5.

“Pittsburgh is prepared to represent North America, highlight our successes, share best practices and discuss the important work that is needed for a sustainable future,” said Pittsburgh Mayor Luke Ravenstahl. “Through the more than 65 planned events and activities, we will showcase the region's strengths and global accomplishments as a green leader that has successfully managed to improve both our economy and environmental stewardship.”

"The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is very impressed with the quality and breadth of activities being organized by the City of Pittsburgh to commemorate the fourth North American World Environment Day celebrations. Pittsburgh has set the bar extremely high not only for North America, but also for other parts of the world, and we congratulate the organizers on their efforts", said Amy Fraenkel, Director of UNEP's Regional Office for North America.

The Partnership, which engages more than 200 organizations in the Pittsburgh region, also unveiled the overall theme of the region’s World Environment Day activities – Water Matters!. This regional theme supports the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) global theme of “Biodiversity.”

“With the convergence of our three rivers, water has always played a vital role in the economic vitality of our region, whether it is through industry or recreation,” said Allegheny County Executive Dan Onorato. “As the North American hosts of World Environment Day, we will celebrate the progress we’ve made in reducing our ecological footprint and creating policies and programs to further promote sustainable practices. But, we will also use this as an opportunity to learn from others. Through our programs, we will initiate important conversations about the importance of water to increased biodiversity.”

Some of the region’s key events and activities will include:
Water Matters! Global Water Conference (June 3)
Citizens, students, business owners, watershed groups, and community leaders from across the region and North America will gather at the David L. Lawrence Convention Center to be part of a remarkable, eye-opening exploration of the ways Water Matters! This conference will include an exhibit area that highlights the region's leading water innovators, problem solvers, and applied technologies with a focus on hands-on activities and displays.

Water Innovation Consortium and Business of Water Assessment
The Pittsburgh World Environment Day Partnership also will launch two new initiatives: the first is a Water Innovation Consortium to help advance innovations in water conservation, protection and clean up within the region; and the second is the Business of Water Assessment to prepare a water industry analysis to characterize and catalyze the water industry that exists in our region, and to assess opportunities associated with growth that positions the region as a leader in sustainable water development.

Water Matters to Youth Too! Student Water Workshop with Dr. Mae Jemison (June 4)
Sponsored by Bayer Corporation and held at the Carnegie Science Center, this interactive workshop led by Dr. Mae C. Jemison, astronaut, scientist, environmental studies professor and Bayer’s longtime Making Science Make Sense spokesperson, will feature local middle school students tackling one of the world’s most pressing problems – the global water shortage. Finding ways to deliver clean, drinkable water to the nearly one billion people around the world who don’t have access to it will be one aspect of the workshop. In addition, the students will help solve regional and local water issues, including conservation, usage and protection of Pittsburgh’s storied rivers and watershed. For more information, visit, www.bayerpittsburghwed.com.

Convergence: Art & Environment at the Three Rivers Arts Festival (June 4-13)
Environmental art, education and action will be at the forefront of this year’s Three Rivers Arts Festival (TRAF) in celebration of World Environment Day. TRAF will continue its “Zero Waste” initiative which has resulted in 83 percent of the waste being diverted from landfills in 2009 (or more than 50 tons).

Pittsburgh World Environment Day Partnership
Visitors will be enlightened through interactive art – think giant solar powered sunflowers – music and events that underscore the endless possibilities of recycling and reuse and present biodiversity issues in creative ways. Other new highlights will include: A 200-gallon tank filled with species fished from our local rivers to teach visitors about a variety of related topics: ecosystems, watersheds and overall challenges to local biodiversity; make your own art using recycled materials; displays from regional organizations and companies featuring environmental initiatives and products; and a free concert headlined by nationally recognized environmentally conscience musical act.

19th Annual International Children's Painting Competition (Exhibit opens June 4)
The International Children's Painting Competition (ICPC), a World Environment Day signature event, is organized annually by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), Bayer Corporation and Nikon Corporation. It has been held since 1991 and has received more than 2.5 million entries from children in more than 100 countries. The theme for this year's competition is "Biodiversity: Connecting with Nature." Children, ages six through 14, can submit their paintings to the UNEP office in their region by April 15, 2010. More than 75 artworks from North America, including the winning entries and the best from Pittsburgh, will be on display at the Bayer ICPC Exhibition, scheduled to open at the Children's Museum of Pittsburgh on June 4.

Paddle at the Point: Kayaks and Canoes World Record Attempt (June 5)
Venture Outdoors is organizing the world's "largest flotilla of kayaks and canoes" in an attempt to break the Guinness Book of World Records. The record is currently held by the Inlet Area Businesses Association in upstate New York and it will take 1,105 kayaks and canoes for Pittsburgh to set the new world record. To learn how to participate in the flotilla, e-mail worldrecord@ventureoutdoors.org. Individuals, groups and clubs are welcome.

The Black and Gold City Goes Green – Water Savers Competition (April—June)
Treating our water takes a lot of energy, which means water savings is also energy savings. The campaign, which launched last year to get Pittsburghers to reduce their energy consumption and fight global warming, will be inviting individuals and families across the region to participate in a Water Savers Competition. The competition will see which Pittsburgh neighborhoods, organizations and counties in Southwestern Pennsylvania can save the most water and energy from April to June. Individuals can log onto the Web site and report what they've done and they can also follow simple monthly actions displayed on a calendar at www.theblackandgoldcitygoesgreen.com.

“The activities and community leadership of more than 200 regional organizations active in World Environment Day underscores our commitment to and proven leadership in restoration of the natural environment and sustainable development,” said Court Gould, executive director of Sustainable Pittsburgh and the lead organizer for the Pittsburgh World Environment Day Partnership
For more information about all of the events and activities of World Environment Day in Pittsburgh, visit www.pittsburghwed.com.

For more information, please contact:
Elisabeth Guilbaud-Cox, Deputy Director, UNEP RONA, elisabeth.guilbaud-cox@unep.org, tel: (202) 974-1307;
Court Gould, Executive Director, Sustainable Pittsburgh, cgould@sustainablepittsburgh.org, tel: (412) 258-6643
Bryan Iams, Bayer Corporation at bryan.iams.b@bayer.com, tel: (412) 777-5732;
Joanna Doven, Mayor’s Office at joanna.doven@city.pittsburgh.pa.us, tel: 412-255-2694;
Kevin Evanto, County Executive’s Office at Kevin.Evanto@AlleghenyCounty.US, tel: 412-350-3171.