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World Environment Day celebrations at EXPO Milan kick off in electric car

UNEP’s Executive Director kicked off World Environment Day (WED) in Milan by driving Goodwill Ambassador and star footballer Yaya Touré to the EXPO universal exhibition.

As part of the global call for sustainable actions on 5 June, different sectors of the current and future electric car market were showcased in the city, host for the main WED celebrations this year.

Mr Steiner and Mr Touré tested out both by starting their journey from the city centre in an electric Tesla S model before switching to a car converted to electric by the Confartigianato Vicenza and Treviso, an Italian association of craft and SMEs.

The trip was “a great example of driving without a footprint” said Mr Steiner. “A lot of young people like sports cars but these are often not electric - I think me trying one sets a good example,” Mr Touré claimed.

Mr Steiner also joined Italian Environment Minister Gian Luca Galletti in signing the Milan Charter – a commitment involving businesses, citizens, government and non-government actors to ensuring food security - during the WED celebrations. The Minister later underlined his view that UNEP is the “prime authority on the environment” during his speech at the WED opening ceremony. Italian President Sergio Mattarella even declared the Milan EXPO to be “the most appropriate place” to celebrate WED.

The Executive Director and Goodwill Ambassador furthermore took part in a cooking class using leftovers to avoid food waste and joined a mascot parade with members of the next generation. “We are one of the best guarantees that future generations have a choice to consume,” Mr Steiner remarked during the celebrations.

Jan Dusik, director of the UNEP Regional Office for Europe, also spoke at a roundtable on the multiple values of European mountain forests in the margins of the main WED celebrations, highlighting their important role in achieving sustainable development and green economy goals.

A call to reverse the deforestation of tropical rainforests – home to 80% of documented species – was meanwhile made during an expert roundtable taking place on the eve of World Environment Day. The event was supported by the Italian Ministry of the Environment and titled ‘On the Edge: The State and Fate of the World’s Tropical Rainforests,’ after a report of the same name by the former director of WWF International Claude Martin.

The theme to the 2015 edition of the world’s largest, most celebrated environmental awareness-raising day was ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Consume with Care,’ tying in with the Milan EXPO theme of ‘Feeding the Planet. Energy for life’.

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