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30 May, 2012

Countdown Begins for World Environment Day, 5 June


Nairobi/Rio de Janeiro, 30 May 2012 – From the floor of the National Senate, to the streets of Rio de Janeiro, the countdown to World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June 2012 is well underway in Brazil. This year’s host country is preparing to lead what promises to be the largest WED celebrations in the event’s four-decade history.

Under the WED 2012 theme Green Economy: Does it Include You?, people across the world are set to carry out thousands of environmental activities on and around 5 June 2012.

Just over a week after WED, Brazil will host world governments for the Rio+20 summit, where the green economy in the context of sustainable development and poverty eradication will be one of two central themes.

In the run-up to Rio+20, WED 2012 will promote the active role of communities around the world in the transition to a low-carbon, resource-efficient and socially inclusive green economy.

From Algiers to Auckland, close to 8000 activities have already been registered on www.unep.org/wed by WED participants across the world for 5 June.

There is still plenty of time to get involved in WED 2012. Members of the public are encouraged to visit www.unep.org/wed and register their green activities for WED.

UNEP will also launch the Global Environment Outlook 5 (GEO-5) on 6 June. Three years in the making and involving close to 300 experts, GEO is the UN’s most comprehensive environmental assessment. In the run-up to Rio+20, GEO-5 will analyze the state of the global environment and track global progress towards international sustainability targets.

Highlights of the WED 2012 programme in Brazil include:

1 June 2012

• Opening of Green Nation Fest

Museum of Natural History, Rio de Janeiro

A celebration of environment, education and entertainment, the Green Nation Festival is partnering with UNEP to celebrate WED through cinema, new media and other cultural activities. The 10-day festival aims to mobilize community action in Brazil to promote sustainable development and lifestyles. Official website (in Portuguese) is available at: http://www.greennationfest.com.br

2 June 2012

• Launch of Green Passport

09:00-10:00, Corcovado Monument, Rio de Janeiro

Rio+20 will see hundreds of delegates flying to Brazil from across the world, filling the city’s hotels and traveling around the region; actions which could lead to a potentially high carbon footprint for the summit. UNEP has partnered with the Government of Brazil to produce a new smart phone application, which provides information on 400 environmentally friendly sites and tourism services around Rio de Janeiro. UNEP has also produced sustainability guidelines for hotels in the city. With Brazil set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, the Green Passport marks a new development in efforts to promote sustainable tourism throughout the country.

4 June 2012

• WED Challenge Tree Planting with Gisele Bündchen

09:30-11:00, Green Nation Fest, Museum of Natural History, Rio de Janeiro

UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen will plant the first of 50,000 new trees that will take root to mark WED. The event marks the culmination of last year’s WED Challenge, where the supermodel and campaigner competed with fellow UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Don Cheadle to mobilize global participation for WED. To mark the Brazilian model’s victory in the WED Challenge, a new forest will be planted in her home country. Gisele will then join Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner for a press conference immediately following the tree-planting. The Goodwill Ambassador will also work as a news reporter with Brazilian TV station Globo for the day, covering WED activities.

• UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards

Press Conference: 16:30-17:45, Blue Room, Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Award Ceremony: 20:00-00:00, Crystal, Palm and Gallery Rooms, Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

The UN’s flagship environment awards will be held in conjunction with WED for the first time this year. The Champions of the Earth prize recognizes leaders in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship, and grassroots leadership. This year, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen will present the 2012 Champions of the Earth laureates with their awards.

5 June 2012

• WED Celebrations at Presidential Palace

15:00-18:00, Palácio do Planalto, Brasilia

President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff will unveil a package of national environmental measures to mark WED. A Special Session of the Brazilian Senate on World Environment Day 2012 will follow the announcement.

6 June 2012

• Global Launch of UNEP Global Environment Outlook (GEO) 5:

Press Conference and High-Level Panel Discussion

10:30-12:45, Palácio Itamaraty, Centro, Rio de Janeiro

GEO is the UN’s most comprehensive environmental assessment report. GEO 5, which will be officially launched in Rio de Janeiro, provides an in-depth assessment of the state of the world environment and includes contributions from close to 300 global experts. GEO 5 will also unveil global progress towards international sustainability targets. Parallel launches will take place in several locations worldwide. More information on GEO 5 is available at: www.unep.org/geo

Worldwide Celebrations

Beyond Brazil, WED celebrations are being planned by individuals, organizations and communities in scores of locations.

An interactive map of global WED activities can be viewed at: http://www.unep.org/wed/aroundtheworld/activitymap/

Among these are:


3-8 June – Bee Biodiversity Garden

Location: European Parliament, Brussels

Thousands of bee-friendly plants exhibited in the plaza outside the European Parliament, with stalls and information booths


2 June – Celebration to mark 10th anniversary of Switzerland’s admission to the United Nations, 40th anniversary of UNEP and 20 years of the Rio conference

Location: Parc La Grange, Geneva

Exhibits by UNEP, other environmental organizations, Paint Party on Green Economy, competition for the most sustainable picnic, music and games


5 June – UNEP/Mathare Green Heroes: Green Economy Waste Management Initiative

Location: Mathare, Nairobi

Waste Management Education and football fun day organized by Maji Mazuri, a youth-run community development organization operating in Mathare, one of the largest slums in the Kenyan capital


5 June – UN-HABITAT WED Art Festival

Location: Hillah Youth Centre, Hillah, Iraq

Festival will include competitions for drawing and essay writing focused on environmental themes


5 June – Green Economy Seminar

Location: Bangkok

What: Hosted by UNEP and the Center for People and Forests , the seminar will take place under the theme ‘Green Economy and Thai flooding’.


5 June – Panel Discussion on Sustainable Cities and WED Reception

Location: U.S. Green Building Council Offices, Washington DC

Hosted by UNEP, U.S. Green Building Council and World Business Council for Sustainable Development, the panel will take place under the theme,‘Sustainable Cities and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20)’


5 June – Documentary Screening: ‘What I Grasp and What I See’

Film narrated by the communities in two river basins in Panama. Screening hosted by UNEP, UNDP, National Environment Authority and Panama Canal Authority and to be followed by discussion with director and participants.

About WED: World Environment Day (WED) is the biggest and most widely celebrated global day for positive environmental action and is held on 5 June every year.

WED celebrations began in 1972 and have grown to become the one of the main vehicles through which the UN stimulates worldwide awareness of the environment and encourages political attention and action. Visit the official WED website at: www.unep.org/wed

WED Challenge 2012: For WED 2012, people across the world will be challenged to register an environmental activity at www.unep.org/wed that they will carry out around 5 June 2012, and help break the record for the greatest number of activities registered in WED’s four decade history. This year, there’s an added incentive to get active for the environment.

Five fuel-efficient cars donated by Kia Motors will be awarded to the best WED projects from each of the following categories:

– People: Biggest number of participants mobilized for a WED Activity.

– Theme: Best supports WED 2012 theme: Green Economy: Does it include you?

– Creativity: Most innovative, unique & fun WED activity

– Buzz: WED activity that best harnesses the power of social media

– Impact: WED activity that results in effective and substantive change

To qualify, all activities must be registered online by 30 June 2012. The winners will be announced on 30 July 2012. More information is available at: www.unep.org/wed/challenge. For more information on media arrangements for WED, please contact: UNEP Newsdesk (Nairobi) on +254 20 7623088 or E-mail: unepnewsdesk@unep.org