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Pan-European region goes wild for World Environment Day

A medley of events have taken place in the pan-European region to celebrate the 2016 edition of World Environment Day (WED).


The theme to the 2016 edition of WED – celebrated annually on 5 June – was the fight against the illegal wildlife trade under the slogan ‘Go wild for life’. Events marking the day in the region ranged from high-level conferences, an environment-themed quiz, awareness-raising on endangered species and work to restore a botanical garden.


One set of questions was dedicated to invasive species as part of an environment-themed quiz organised by the Geneva Environment Network (GEN) attended by over twenty teams from the city on 2 June. The following day, a GEN roundtable prepared for major upcoming meetings dealing with conservation and biodiversity governance this year, while the Eldora catering service put on a special menu for clients across the city.


The ‘Naledi: A Baby Elephant's Tale’ film was also screened in the city, telling the incredible, true-life story of a baby elephant born into a rescue camp in the wilderness of Botswana. The screening was organised by GEN and the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora.


UNEP was meanwhile present at Brussels’ Fete de l’environnement - attended by tens of thousands - with a stand promoting the #NotWasting campaign on food, as well as numerous activities for children and information on the global WED theme as well as other aspects of UNEP’s work. UNEP, UNODC, UNRIC and WWF also screened the 2015 documentary ‘Racing Extinction’ as a CinéONU event. The film focuses on the human-induced loss of biodiversity and illegal wildlife trade and was followed by a panel discussion including Pierre-Yves Cousteau.


UNEP’s Almaty office celebrated WED by joining partners at the city's UN House to hold a conference titled 'From awareness to action for Central Asian endangered species'. The event explored the illegal wildlife trade through a Central Asian lens by focusing on issues such as poaching and illegal fishing and species such as the Caspian Seal and snow leopard. Participants also heard key results from the recent UN Environment Assembly, where a resolution was adopted by all UN member states on the illegal trade in wildlife.


In Moscow, around 40 grass carp fish were released into the ponds of the Russian Academy of Sciences (RAS) Main Botanic Garden in a natural effort to prevent their eutrophication in the most environmentally-friendly way. An accompanying roundtable saw NGOs, business, educational institutions and the media all represented.


An uplifting video produced by UNEP’s Regional Office for Europe Vienna branch meanwhile conveys how youths are involved in achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals and can be viewed here. It was launched at an event exploring the political processes for and discussing the challenges to doing so organised by the office, which featured numerous youth organisations and the planting of trees by high-level guests including including Karmenu Vella, EU Commissioner for Environment, Maritime Affairs and Fisheries, Andrä Rupprechter, Austrian Minister of the Environment.


Further afield in countries UNEP works with from Europe, high level officials planted tree seedlings to mark the day in South Sudan, where five tons of ivory and 50 kg of rhino horns as well as confiscated elephant tusks were burnt in a sign of commitment to fight the illegal wildlife trade. Awareness on marine ecosystems was meanwhile raised during events involving school children and town mayors in Haiti, where UNEP is partnering with the Government of Norway and others for the sound management of a national park containing numerous endemic species. Celebrations involving national and international organisations in Afghanistan lasted an entire week and marked the country’s significant progress in environmental protection while raising awareness of the challenges ahead.


Films on air quality, climate change and the environment will furthermore be screened as part of the Sarajevo Film Festival in August, thanks to a renewed collaboration with UNEP announced on the occasion of WED.


The day aims to attract the international community’s attention to environmental issues and stimulate political interest and appropriate actions needed to solve them. For more information on WED click here and for further details on celebrations in the pan-European region please contact

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