MAYORS FROM ACROSS WORLD TO MARK WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY (5 JUNE) – WITH URBAN ACCORDS

10 May 2005
UNEP/285

MAYORS FROM ACROSS WORLD TO MARK WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY (5 JUNE) – WITH URBAN ACCORDS

10/5/2005
Press ReleaseUNEP/285

MAYORS FROM ACROSS WORLD TO MARK WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY (5 JUNE) – WITH URBAN ACCORDS

(Reissued as received.)

NAIROBI/SAN FRANCISCO, 10 May (UNEP) -- A Brazilian mayor whose city has been called the “cleanest in the world”, a mayor from England where a fee to ease traffic congestion is being successfully pioneered, and a mayor from China who is grappling with one of the world’s fastest growing urban areas -- they all will be converging on San Francisco from 1 to 5 June for World Environment Day (WED).

Exactly four weeks from today, the three mayors -- Carlos Alberto Richa from Curitiba, Ken Livingstone from London and Han Zheng from Shanghai -- will be joined by more than 60 others, representing cities from across the globe.  They plan to exchange ideas and sign a set of ground-breaking environmental actions for cities.

These actions, collectively referred to as the Urban Environmental Accords - Green Cities Declaration, cover seven environmental categories that cities can address to enable sustainable urban living and improve the quality of life for urban dwellers:  energy, waste reduction, urban design, urban nature, transportation, environmental health, and water.  They reflect this year’s World Environment Day theme of “Green Cities -- Plan for the Planet!”.

The Accords lay out 21 practical actions cities can take to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, or the health of the planet.

Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said:  “It is up to cities in the developed world to set an example in areas such as the efficient use of energy and water.  And it is incumbent upon them to partner developing world cities so they do not take a short-term ‘dirty’ development path, but a long-term sustainable one.

“If this can be done, we can help realize the UN Millennium Development Goals by 2015, and in doing so rid the world of poverty -- the most toxic element of all.”

Just over half of the world’s people now live in cities.  Urban populations consume 75 per cent of the world’s natural resources and produce 75 per cent of its waste.

“The Urban Environmental Accords represent an innovative response to the fact that we now live on an urban planet”, said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, the host of the celebrations.  “We need to develop real solutions to urban environmental challenges”, he added.

Attending the celebrations will be the UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer, California Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, former US Vice-President Al Gore and mayors from around 60 cities including Kabul, Buenos Aires, Moscow, Dublin, Phnom Penh, Caracas, Jakarta and Istanbul (see list below).

UNEP’s World Environment Day celebrations have been hosted by a different city since 1987.  This is the first time the event takes place in the United States and it is most fitting that San Francisco -- the birth place of the United Nations 60 years ago -- should be this year’s venue.

“Municipal governments have the power to shape the future of the world’s environment”, said Jared Blumenfeld, Director of San Francisco’s Environment Department.  “With the majority of the Earth’s population living in cities, decisions made at World Environment Day will have far-reaching effect.”

In addition to the signing of the Urban Environmental Accords on 5 June, the official celebrations also include a walk entitled “Peace and the Environment at Muir Woods -- the UN at 60”.  Furthermore, over 200 community activities are planned around WED in the Bay area.  They range from special organic menu selections at local restaurants to a display of artwork made from recycled material.  There will be a Green Cities Expo with booths and exhibits at Fort Mason from 3 to 5 June, where this year’s winners of the UNEP photo competition “Focus on Your World” will also be on display.

The draft text of the Accords can be viewed on the World Environment Day website, www.wed2005.org, as well as at www.urbanaccords.org.

Notes to Editors

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.  It was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972 to mark the opening of the Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment.  Another resolution, adopted by the General Assembly the same day, led to the creation of UNEP.

The WED gives a human face to environmental issues.  It empowers people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development and promotes an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues.

UNEP is the voice for the environment within the United Nations system.  It acts as a catalyst, advocate, educator and facilitator to promote the wise use and sustainable development of the global environment.  To accomplish this, UNEP works with a wide range of partners including United Nations entities, international organisations, national Governments, non-governmental organisations, the private sector and civil society.

Representatives of the following cities have so far confirmed their participation at WED 2005:

Ahmedabad (India), Assisi (Italy), Bahia de Caraquez (Ecuador), Barcelona (Spain), Berkeley (USA), Buenos Aires (Argentina), Cape Town (South Africa), Caracas (Venezuela), Changchun (China), Chongqing (China), Copenhagen (Denmark), Curitiba (Brazil), Dakar (Senegal), Delhi (India),  Dhaka (Bangladesh),  Dublin (Ireland), Gampaha (Sri Lanka), Hyderabad (India), Islamabad (Pakistan), Istanbul (Turkey), Jakarta (Indonesia), Kabul (Afghanistan), Kampala (Uganda), Kawasaki (Japan), Kitakyushu (Japan), Kiev (Ukraine), Kolkata (India), Kozhikode (India), Lausanne (Switzerland), Lisbon (Portugal), London (United Kingdom), Lurin (Peru), Lyon (France), Manila (Philippines), Matale (Sri Lanka), Minsk (Belarus), Moscow (Russian Federation), Mumbai (India), Oakland (USA), Phnom Penh (Cambodia), Porto Alegre (Brazil), Qingdao (China), Quito (Ecuador), Riga (Latvia), Rio de Janeiro (Brazil), Salt Lake City (USA), San Francisco (USA), San Miguel de Allende (Mexico), Santa Monica (USA), São Paulo (Brazil), Seattle (USA), Shanghai (China),  Shenyang (China), Sinaia (Romania), Stockholm (Sweden), Surabaya (Indonesia), Taipei (Taiwan), Taiyuan (China), Tehran (Iran), Thessaloniki (Greece), Torino (Italy), Warsaw (Poland), Wuhan (China), Yogyakarta (Indonesia), Zibo (China) and, Zürich (Switzerland).

For more information, please contact:  Eric Falt, Director, UNEP Division of Communications and Public Information, in Nairobi, tel.:  +254-20-623292, e-mail:  eric.falt@unep.org; or Nick Nuttall, Spokesperson, UNEP, tel.:  +254 20 623084, mobile:  +254 733 632755, e-mail:  nick.nuttall@unep.org.  In New York, contact Jim Sniffen, Information Officer, UNEP, tel:  +1 212 963-8094/8210; info@nyo.unep.org, www.nyo.unep.org.

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For information media. Not an official record.