Milan, 4 June 2015 – World Environment Day (WED), the UN’s principal vehicle to encourage worldwide awareness and action for the environment, will be celebrated around the world on 5 June with a call to governments, communities and individuals to improve their consumption patterns.
This year’s theme, ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care’, encourages people to rethink their lifestyles and, through conscious consumer decisions, decrease humanity’s collective impact on nature’s resources.
According to UNEP’s International Resource Panel (IRP), if unsustainable consumption and production patterns persist, by 2050 we will be using three planets – worth of natural resources to maintain our ways of living. This means that it will take three years for the Earth to regenerate the resources we use in one year. By 2050, humanity could be devouring about 140 billion tonnes of minerals, ores, fossil fuels and biomass per year – three times its current appetite – unless economic growth rate is decoupled from the rate of natural resource use.
The global host for WED celebrations this year is Italy, a country at the forefront of the worldwide action towards improved global nutrition and resource use. The main celebrations will take place at Expo Milano 2015 – this year’s edition of the world-famous universal exhibition. Running from 1 May to 31 October, Expo Milano 2015 will feature about 140 exhibiting countries and numerous international organizations, including a pavilion of the United Nations. The exhibition is expected to attract over 20 million visitors.
The Milan Expo supports and complements WED with its theme of ‘Feeding the Planet - Energy for Life’, which showcases state-of-the-art technology, ideas and solutions that can help guarantee healthy, safe and sufficient food for everyone, while respecting the planet and its equilibrium.
Today, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner, Italian Minister of Environment Gian Luca Galletti, Commissioner of the Government of Italy for Expo Milano 2015 Giuseppe Sala, and Football star and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Yaya Toure are hosting the official WED press conference at the Milano Expo Media Centre, where the issue of sustainable consumption and production will be spotlighted and a new Handbook will be launched that outlines best practices and principles for policy makers.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “The last century has witnessed a rapid transformation of our relationship with the natural world, with the escalating use of natural resources leading to environmental degradation. We are now operating at about 40 per cent above the earth’s budget. If world population and consumption rates continue according to business as usual, annual global resource extraction could triple from 2000 levels to 140 billion tons by 2050.”
"Focusing on the environment" - Italian Minister for the Environment Gian Luca Galletti explains - "means curing the planet. And COP21 is our big chance. Our world is today characterised by grave contradictions that carry economic, social, environmental and social costs that can no longer be tolerated. The fact that one part of the world is wasting food and another is going hungry goes to show that we need to change our development model and opt for sustainability, based on a model of change that starts from youths. The environment is a vital element of our economy: it should no longer be seen as something to 'look but not touch' but an indispensible lever for development.
"Expo Milano 2015" - Galletti added - "is showcasing extraordinary examples of sustainability. Not only of strategies but also concrete best practices. This is why we will, in the context of World Environment Day, present a competition for the most sustainable pavilions, stands and services here at the Expo. The exhibition can also be an international model of solutions and technological innovations for making the world a more equitable, cleaner, better place for us and above all future generations".
Commissioner of the Government of Italy for Expo Milano 2015 and CEO of Expo 2015 Company, Giuseppe Sala welcomed the audience: “The Expo is a platform for sharing knowledge and ideas, open to all interested parties: Participants, visitors, partners and all the people that follow us on the web and on the social media. So many people who have a crucial role in advancing the agenda on feeding the planet and on sustainability at the international level are meeting at Expo to take stock of what has been achieved and to launch new initiatives. This is the wonderful embodiment of the power of collaboration and knowledge sharing, which is the inherent goal of World Expos. It is therefore very meaningful for us to be able to share the message of World Environment Day 2015: ‘Seven billion dreams. One planet. Consume with care’ within the Expo community. It will resonate with Expo visitors and followers”.
The Milan Expo witnesses an array of exciting WED related events, including a forum of the ministers of agriculture from countries participating in Expo themed “Agriculture To Feed The World”, cooking classes by celebrity chefs using leftover food, the unveiling of the Cineambiente Mini Film Festival and the Earth Evening – an unplugged concert for piano and vocal to celebrate the WED with zero emissions music.
GLOBAL CELEBRATION HIGHLIGHTS
Austria - Going Wild in Vienna
Great Apes will take over the Austrian capital, as UNEP Vienna, together with Great Apes Survival Partnership (GRASP), GRID-Arendal Centre and UN Information Service (UNIS) organize two public events for WED, focusing on “Human-wildlife conflicts in mountain regions.” A photo exhibition will be launched at the Rotunda at the Vienna International Centre, featuring exceptional pictures of great apes. On Monday, 8th June the UNIS CineONU Event in Vienna’s TopKino will feature the screening of the film “Revolution”.
Bahamas - Cleaning up the Oceans in the Bahamas
Marine litter in the oceans, resulting from our excessive consumption of plastic, will be the focus of the Youth Action Island Summit, co-organized by the 5 Gyres plastic pollution scientists (part of UNEP Marine Litter Partnership), The Island School, Cape Eleuthra Institute, internationally renowned singer Jack Johnson and his All At Once Foundation. The summit will bring together activists, artists, filmmakers, scientists, educators and youth to explore the question—how will island nations deal with plastic pollution in the 21st century.
Belgium - Celebrating with Families in Brussels
WED in Brussels will be celebrated at the Parc du Cinquantenaire on 7 June, with the Fête de l’Environnement organised by the Brussels Region under the overall theme of climate. As in previous years, 20,000 visitors are expected at this family-friendly animated information village set up in the heart of the European Institutions area.
World Environment Day will also be promoted at Green Week (2-5 June) and the European Development Days (3-4 June) taking place in Brussels, as well as at a dedicated CineONU on 8 June, where a documentary relating to climate change will be screened.
Bosnia and Herzegovina - Going to the Cinema in Sarajevo
Visual arts will mark the WED celebrations in Sarajevo. Following UNEP’s successful production of a short film on Bosnia and Herzegovina’s biological and landscape diversity, awareness-raising activities on nature conservation through art will be held at the most important cultural event in the region – the Sarajevo Film Festival.
WED 2015 celebrations on 5 June will also kick off the Sarajevo Summer for the Environment, featuring a press conference, followed by a visit to the protected areas in the Sarajevo Canton.
Brazil – A Week for the Environment
Celebrations will begin on May 31st and end on June 6th. Various activities will promote awareness for sustainable consumption, including film screenings to the general public and at public schools, the Cycle Tour in Brasilia, workshops on clothing and reuse of food, an organic fair and a social media campaign. A ceremony in celebration of WED will be held at the UN House.
China – Going Green in Shanghai and Beijing
UNEP’s Deputy Executive Director will lead the WED celebrations in China, which will run 3-5 June in Shanghai and Beijing. He will participate in the Flagship China National Television (CCTV) Dialogue programme, launch the WED poster series at the Beijing International Airport and meet with students at the International Students Conference on Environment and Sustainability, where he will be joined by the famous actor - Zhu Yawen.
Cote d'Ivoire – Taking WED on the Road
WED will get mobile in Cote d'Ivoire, with a marketing truck passing through 3 cities and raising awareness on consumption patterns in the visited areas, among local and consumer groups. A Family Awareness Event/ Journées Portes Ouvertes will also be organized, involving different environmental stakeholders, universities, research institutes etc. A panel discussion on the environment will be broadcast by the local television.
Japan – Learning about Sustainability in Osaka
UNEP International Environmental Technology Centre, together with Osaka City Government, are organizing a seminar on 5 June focused on the theme – Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care. The seminar is targeting the private sector in Osaka, especially small and medium-sized companies.
Kenya – Greening the Blue in Nairobi
The Step by Step Group, UNEP and UN Office in Nairobi (UNON) will host a ‘green week’ from 2 to 5 June, aiming to sensitize UN staff on greener and sustainable practices, focusing on reducing plastic waste and reducing environmental impacts of food choices. Activities include: a booth to share a dream and make a pledge; participation by UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Suzanna Owiyo to speak about her Soko Bila Waste Initiative; a group of children from Nairobi slums sharing their experience on life at the dumpsite in Nairobi.
Switzerland – Talking Environment Protection in Geneva
The Geneva Environment Network Secretariat team, with the contribution of various international governmental and non-governmental organizations and local authorities has prepared a captivating WED 2015 programme including an Environmental Quiz, a talk presenting the Garbage Patch State, a Ciné-ONU screening of the movie "Virunga" at the Maison de la Paix, and a Geneva Environment Network Roundtable on Sustainable Procurement.
South Africa – Saving Food in Pretoria
On WED, UNEP will launch the first-ever project on food waste in Africa - the pilot project on the adoption of the guidance methodology for food waste reduction in Pretoria, South Africa. Events include media interviews and the launch of the Think.Eat.Save. Guidance Document and outreach events at the Pretoria public market.
Watch UNEP's official video for World Environment Day 2015 here.
For more information, please contact:
Isabelle Valentiny, Head of Communications, Regional Office for Europe, UNEP Tel. +41 79 251 82 36, firstname.lastname@example.org
Mark Grassi, Information Assistant, Regional Office for Europe, UNEP Tel. +41 7887 500 86 email@example.com (speaks Italian)