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"Save our seas" is plea of World Environment Day 1998

More than 70 percent of the Earth's surface is covered by water

"For life on earth - save our seas" is the theme of World Environment Day 1998, observed at FAO Headquarters in Rome Friday 5 June with a ceremony addressed by guest speakers including Italy's Environment Minister Edo Ronchi.

Mr Ronchi told the observance that today's global economy cannot continue expanding if the ecosystems on which it depends go on deteriorating at the present rate, noting problems with forests, water supplies, soil erosion and fishery resources biodiversity. "We have to bear in mind to use only the renewable resources that are necessary to us, and not to overexploit them", the Minister declared.

This year's focus on the world's water resources is especially fitting as 1998 has been declared the Year of the Ocean. "It would make little sense to argue that the marine and coastal environment should be turned into an environmental sanctuary, while their renewable resources are badly needed to support and feed the ever-growing world population," said FAO Assistant Director-General Moritaka Hayashi, head of the Fisheries Department. "It is our duty, however, to ensure that the resources of the seas are utilized and managed in a sustainable, environmentally acceptable manner."

FAO Assistant Director-General Henri Carsalade, head of the Sustainable Development, noted that sustainability and food security are inseparable: "FAO is convinced that it is quite possible to meet the food needs of the world, today and in the decades to come, because production can be further improved while maintaining respect for the principles of sustainable development."


World Environment Day calls attention to the many environmental issues that FAO addresses in its work to improve agriculture, forestry and fisheries throughout the world. Some graphics related to these issues are collected here:

Factfile archive

5 June 1998

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