22 April 2009
General Assembly

Department of Public Information • News and Media Division • New York





The United Nations General Assembly was expected to take action today, 22 April, on a draft resolution initially proposed by Bolivia and co-sponsored by 50 other countries to designate 22 April as International Mother Earth Day.

The draft would acknowledge “that the Earth and its ecosystems are our home” and that, “in order to achieve a just balance among the economic, social and environmental needs of present and future generations, it is necessary to promote harmony with nature and the Earth”.

Since the 1970s, Earth Day, which has no international designation, has been celebrated in many countries to inspire awareness and appreciation of the environment.  Bolivia has proposed official recognition of the Day as a step towards the 1992 Rio Declaration, which aims to promote the right of all human beings to live a healthy life in harmony with nature.

“We are from the philosophy of ‘living well’” -- in Spanish “el vivir bien” -- said Pablo Salon, Permanent Representative of Bolivia to the United Nations.  “We think that man has the right to his wealth, but not to try to live better than others, because if he tries to live better, he's going to exploit others, he's going to destroy Mother Earth.”

This morning President Evo Morales of Bolivia was scheduled to address the General Assembly, where he would call on the international community officially to recognize Mother Earth Day.  Hewas also expected to address a special event from 2:30 p.m. to 5:30 p.m. in Conference Room 4.

The afternoon event will be hosted jointly by the Secretariat of the United Nations Permanent Forum on Indigenous Issues in the Department of Economic and Social Affairs, in cooperation with the Office of the President of the General Assembly, the Division for Sustainable Development, the Secretariat of the United Nations Forum on Forests, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and several non-governmental organizations.  It will also feature Miguel d’Escoto Brockmann, President of the General Assembly, Tariq Banuri, Director of the Division for Sustainable Development, and an expert panel.

“It will be a day where we must raise consciousness in all our nations that we are not just responsible for humans, but, especially, we are responsible for our home, which is the Planet Earth,” said Ambassador Salon.

Mother Earth Day will differ from World Environment Day in that it will recognize Planet Earth as a whole, and the place of humanity within it, whereas World Environment Day, commemorated on 5 June, focuses on protecting Earth's natural resources.  Last year, the General Assembly designated 2008 as the International Year of Planet Earth, with the notion that humanity must strive to live in harmony with nature and one another.

The Bolivian-sponsored draft resolution seeks to raise consciousness of the right of all humans to live a healthy life in harmony with nature, as established in the 1992 Rio Declaration on Environment and Development.  It also seeks to promote awareness of the importance of protecting the planet, home of all living things and the source of life itself, and to “reflect on the interdependence that exists among human beings, other living species and the planet we all inhabit, from a perspective in which people and the environment are understood as part of a single system”.

The concept of International Mother Earth Day promotes the idea of a balanced existence that will benefit all humanity, regardless of origin or culture, and help find solutions to the current environmental challenges.

For more information or interviews, please contact Dan Shepard, United Nations Department of Public Information, tel.:  212 963 9495 or 212 963 6816, fax:  212 963 1186, e-mail:  mediainfo@un.org.

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For information media • not an official record