Rwanda to host World Environment Day celebrations – UN agency

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17 February - Rwanda will play global host to celebrations for the 2010 World Environment Day, observed annually on 5 June, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

UNEP selected the Rwandan capital of Kigali as the epicentre for this year's festivities because of its environmental richness, including rare and economically-important species such as the mountain gorilla, as well as its pioneering transition to a 'green' economy. The theme of this year's Day will be “Many Species. One Planet. One Future.”

“Rwanda is an African nation that, despite big challenges, is seizing the multiple opportunities possible from green economic policies,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

The East African country, known as the “land of a thousand hills,” is turning to some innovative environmental strategies, such as a ban on plastic bags, ecological clean up campaigns, a conservation corridor for chimpanzees, and the development of renewable energies such as solar power and biogas generation, noted UNEP.

“The pairing of Rwanda with World Environment Day in 2010 is thus a compelling and inspiring alliance, underlining that all economies, rich and poor and North and South, have real and tangible opportunities to shape a more sustainable development path,” stressed Mr. Steiner.

“One that develops new business models based on intelligent management of the natural world and high tech clean and renewable businesses,” he continued.

UNEP said this year's celebrations are slated to be bigger than ever before, building on the unprecedented success of 2009 when people in more than 80 countries registered activities on its World Environment Day website and more than 10,000 people joined the “twitter for trees” campaign.

In a related development, UNEP today announced a series of green measures for October's Commonwealth Games in Delhi, India, from boosting energy efficiency and air quality to expanding the city's forests.

“The Commonwealth Games, like the Olympic Games and the FIFA World Cup, represent an inordinate opportunity to pilot innovative ideas and transformational policies able to deliver a low-carbon, resource efficient green economy,” said Mr. Steiner.

“The potential positive impact for Delhi's 14 million inhabitants is matched by the environmental awareness generated across the world,” he added. “UNEP is delighted to be working with the Commonwealth Games for the first time ever and we look forward to a positive environmental legacy for the residents of this historic capital city.”