Spotlight on Small Islands as World Environment Day Celebrations Kick off in Barbados Mon, Jun 2, 2014

This year, the World Environment Day theme is Raise your Voice, Not the Sea Level which celebrates the remarkable resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the impacts of climate change.

Dr. the Hon. Denis S. Lowe (R), M.P., Minister of the Environment and Drainage, Barbados, speaks with Naysan Sahba (L), UNEP Director of Communications as Travis Sinkler (C), Senior Environmental Officer at the Ministry of Environment and Drainage looks on after the religious service to kick off WED celebrations

Nairobi, 1 June 2014 - The world's attention turned to the Caribbean, Sunday, as week-long World Environment Day celebrations kicked off with a religious service, which was offered in observance of the Day and in recognition of the 20th Anniversary of the First Conference of Small Island Development States.

This year, the World Environment Day theme is Raise your Voice, Not the Sea Level which celebrates the remarkable resilience of Small Island Developing States (SIDS) to the impacts of climate change.

The service took place at the Cathedral of St. Michael and All Angels, in Bridgetown. In attendance were His Excellency Sir Elliott Belgrave, Governor-General of Barbados, Dr. the Hon. Denis S. Lowe, M.P., Minister of the Environment and Drainage and Senator the Hon. Darcy W. Boyce, Minister of Energy, Immigration, Telecommunications and Invest Barbados .The United Nations Environment Programme was represented by Naysan Sahba, Director of Communications and Public Information.

Home to 62.3 million people, the world's 52 SIDS are custodians of 30 per cent of the world's 50 largest exclusive economic zones and play an important role in protecting the oceans.

Research shows that by 2100, global warming could lead to a sea-level rise of up to two meters, making many SIDS, including the Maldives, Kiribati and Tuvalu uninhabitable.

The government and people of Barbados, a Caribbean island at the cutting edge of the fight against the impacts of climate change, are issuing a call to action to people across the world to raise their voices in support of SIDS.

Barbados is leading the SIDS green economy transition with pioneering initiatives such as its Solar Water Heater Program which has netted energy savings of between US$135.5 and US$137 million since it was first launched in the 1970s.

UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, "Every year, on June 5th, millions of people across the planet celebrate World Environment Day - coming together at community, national and regional levels to promote positive action on the most-pressing environmental challenges of our day. This year's global host for World Environment Day is Barbados, one of many Small Island Developing States facing multi-dimensional issues that require integrated global action."

"SIDS contribute little to the problem of climate change - the combined annual carbon dioxide output of these nations accounts for less than one per cent of global emissions. Yet they are especially vulnerable to the changing climate due to their small size, narrow resource base, susceptibility to natural hazards, low economic resilience, and limited capacity to mitigate and adapt to the effects of climate change."

"As one of the smallest independent states in the world, with a total land area of just 431 km 2, Barbados faces many of the challenges outlined above, but it is not passively accepting its fate. Barbados has long been a leader in the Caribbean region in the Green Economy approach. Its current National Strategic Plan (2006-2025) clearly identifies "Building a Green Economy: Strengthening the Physical Infrastructure and Preserving the Environment" as one its key aims," he added.

Actor Ian Somerhalder will be visiting Barbados to lend his support to the celebrations. He is joined by other UNEP Goodwill Ambassadors, supermodel Gisele Bündchen, actor Don Cheadle and footballer Yaya Touré who are sending an SOS to the world on behalf of SIDS. Their Message in a Bottle Challenge is a call to everyone to pledge their support to the planet and especially to SIDS in the global fight against climate change.

Join one of their teams today by registering your Message in a Bottle activity on the website and send a resounding message to the world on June 5th, at


St Kilda, Australia

The City of Port Phillip will celebrate World Environment Day with a free daytime event for Port Phillip mums, dads, parents-to-be and child caregivers. Guests are invited to learn about 'greening' their children to the environment. They can also browse stalls and see demonstrations on green cleaning, environmentally-friendly nappies, cargo bikes and more. Discover how early childhood services in Port Phillip are embedding sustainability in their practice for their most important future citizens.

For more information, please visit

Perth Australia

Residents of the City of Perth will be contributing to enhancing the health of Bather's Beach dune vegetation in Fremantle. It will be a wonderful, active morning out, topped off with a warming morning tea.

For more information, please visit

Strabane, United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland

Funded by Strabane District Council and the Department of Rural Development, the World Environment Day festival will be held in the Sperrins from 19th - 20th July and in Killeter from 9th - 10th August 2014. The town of Strabane is delighted to welcome the launch of the Sperrins and Killeter Walking Festival as part of World Environment Day 2014. There will be a packed program of walks, hikes and fun days available for walkers of all ages and abilities. Whether you're looking to get active, enjoy a family day out, unlock the hidden gems of the region or even raise money for your favorite charity, the festival provides the perfect opportunity to get outside and explore the gems on Strabane's doorstep. Visitors can learn more about gold panning, mountain skills and navigation as well as take part in a range of family fun events.

For more information, please visit

Amman, Jordan

Celebrations in Amman will include mass collaboration on water saving and harvesting methods, email communication and social media participation. The creation of a mailing list for the Jordanian public to participate in water activities will be a key feature of the WED celebrations.

For more information, please visit

WED Celebrations in Europe

Here are just a few examples of what UNEP in Europe has lined up for WED 2014. For more information, please visit

Green Up in Brussels

Tens of thousands of attendees will learn about eco-living tips, climate change and sea level trends at this year's World Environment Day (WED) celebrations, organized by the Brussels Ministry of Environment (IBGE) every year at the Parc Cinquantennaire. The Green Up campaign, led by UNEP Brussels, will be providing recycling, energy efficiency advice and talk about this year's WED theme. Maps provided by the Africa, Caribbean, Pacific Group (ACP) will illustrate the adverse effects of climate change on Small Island Developing States (SIDS). The UNEP office in Brussels is partnering with UNRIC and the ACP Secretariat on this event.

Island Exhibit and Roundtable in Geneva

Islands - and the challenges they face amidst climate change - will be the focus at the popular lakeside gathering place of Bains des Pâquis on the 4th of June. Families will learn about this year's theme as the pools will be transformed into an archipelago of islands. Artificial islands will be set up in the swimming zone, where everyone can take pictures and learn about small island challenges. Local and international partners, both from the civil society and the public sector, will also set up booths to display their work alongside exhibits on climate change and small islands.

WED celebrations will continue at the annual roundtable event at the International Environment House on the 6th of June in Geneva. Every year, the roundtable organized by the Geneva Environment Network for WED gathers attendees working on environmental issues. This year the panel discussion will be focused on small islands, climate change and disaster reduction. The day will be capped by a reception hosted by the Swiss government.

WED Forum in Sarajevo

In Sarajevo, UNEP and UNDP will jointly organize an environmental forum at the UN House on 5th June on climate change, genetic resources and biodiversity. This will be followed by a reception to be co-hosted by the Austrian Embassy in Bosnia and Herzegovina.

For more information about World Environment Day, please visit

To join the WED - Challenge and one of the teams, Click here

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