22 February 2013

Africa: Mongolia to Host UN World Environment Day 2013

Mongolia will host this year's World Environment Day (WED) celebration on 5 June, which will focus on reducing food waste and loss, the United Nations announced today.

The Asian nation was chosen for its efforts to shift towards a green economy in its major economic sectors such as mining and for promoting environmental awareness among youth, the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) said in a news release.

"Mongolia is facing enormous challenges, including growing pressure on food security, traditional nomadic herding and water supplies as a result of the impacts of climate change," said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

"Indeed it is estimated that annual mean temperature has increased by over 2°C during the last 70 years and precipitation has decreased in most regions, except the western part of the country, indicating that Mongolia is among the most vulnerable nations in the world to global warming.

"Yet its Government is also determined to meet these challenges and seize the opportunities of a less-polluting and more-sustainable future - from a moratorium on new mining pending improved environmental regulations to plans to become a renewable energy power-house and exporter of clean energy regionally," he said.

Observance of World Environment Day began in 1972 as a way to raise awareness of the environment and encourage political attention and action. This year's theme for the Day is "Think.Eat.Save. Reduce Your Foodprint," which builds on a global campaign of the same name launched earlier this year by UNEP, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and other partners to reduce food and waste loss.

The announcement was made during UNEP's Governing Council session in Nairobi, Kenya, where hundreds of environment ministers and civil society representatives met to discuss some of the most pressing environmental issues.

"I am sure that as the global host of WED, Mongolia will demonstrate to the world that a transition to a green economy is possible, even within some of the most traditionally challenging industrial sectors, when leadership, vision, smart policies and political will are translated into action on the ground," Mr. Steiner said.

During the Council session, Mr. Steiner also announced that a UNEP mission to Mongolia was scheduled to depart in April to assist the country in its transition to a green economy in areas such as energy, land and water.

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