June 05, 2006

Today is “World Environment Day”

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 World Environment Day theme selected for 2006 is Deserts and Desertification and the slogan is Don't Desert Drylands! The slogan emphasizes the importance of protecting drylands, which cover more than 40% of the planet’s surface. This ecosystem is home to one-third of the world’s people who are more vulnerable members of society. The main international celebrations of the World Environment Day 2006 will be held in Algeria. UNEP is honoured that the City of Algiers will be hosting this United Nations day.

UN Secretary general Kofi Anan said that "drylands are found in all regions, cover more than 40 percent of the Earth and are home to nearly 2 billion people-one third of the world's population. For most dryland dwellers, life is hard and the future often precarious. They live on the ecological, economic and social margins. It is essential that we do not neglect them nor the fragile habitats on which they depend."

Poverty, unsustained land management and climatic change are turning drylands into deserts, and desertification in turn excarbates and leads to poverty. It is estimated that between 10 to 20 percent of drylands are already degraded.

Desertification is about land degradation: the loss of the land's biological productivity, caused by human-induced factors and climate change. It affects one third of the earth's surface and over a billion people. It has devastating consequences in terms of social and economic costs.

The result of desertification and drought include food insecurity, famine and poverty. The ensuing economic and political tensions can create conflicts causing more impoverishment and further increase land degradation. The growing desertification worldwide threatens to increase by millions the number of poor forced to seek new homes and livelihoods. The forest zone becomes a target of habitation by these homeless people.

While desertification is hard to reverse, it can also be prevented. Protecting and restoring drylands will relieve the growing burden on the world's urban areas and will contribute to a more peaceful and secure world.

Department of Environment and Natural Resources (DENR) Secretary Angelo T. Reyes enjoins all sectors of society to commemorate World Environment Day. He said that the observance can be celebrated in many ways, including street rallies, bicycle parades, green concerts, essay and poster competitions in school, tree planting, recycling efforts, clean up campaigns and much more.


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