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World Environment Day 2010

UN in Addis celebrates World Environment Day

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Liaison office organized a half day event to commemorate the World Environment Day (WED) on June 2nd 2010 at the United Nations Economic Commission for Africa (UNECA) Conference Center in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia. The theme of WED 2010 was “Many Species, One Planet, One Future” and the event drew ninety participants from African Union Commission (AUC), UNECA, the diplomatic community in Addis Ababa, academic institutions, government, non-governmental, civil society and youth organizations. In his opening remarks, Mr. Mounkaila Goumandakoye, Director of the UNEP Regional Office for Africa stressed UNEP’s goal to demonstrate the economic value of biodiversity by launching new initiatives such as The Economics of Ecosystems and Biodiversity (TEEB). He also took the opportunity to officially introduce Mr. Serge Bounda, the new UNEP representative to AUC, UNECA and Ethiopia. During the commemoration, Mr. Josue Dione, Director of Food Security and Sustainable Development (FSSD) in UNECA in his welcoming speech emphasized UNECA’s continued support of relevant stakeholders to foster institutional and strategic frameworks to maintain a balanced integration of environment into development planning aimed at achieving sustainable utilization and conservation of Africa’s biodiversity. H.E. Rhoda Peace Tumusiime, Commissioner for Rural Economy and Agriculture of the African Union Commission, delivered a special message on Africa in recognition of 2010 as the International Year of Biodiversity that emphasized the need for a holistic approach to ensure environmental sustainability for the future generations. Member state representatives present at the event were keen to share their countries efforts in conservation of biodiversity and other environmental initiatives. H.E. Mr. Kinichi Komano, Ambassador of Japan to Ethiopia outlined how Japan will be hosting the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP 10) in October 2010. He also expressed his country’s continued support to developing countries in combating the effects of climate change and the promotion of biodiversity conservation. As one of the key national partners of UNEP and the focal point for implementing the Convention of Biological Biodiversity in Ethiopia, Dr. Kassaye Ambaye, Director of the Institute of Biodiversity and Conservation in Ethiopia, addressed the state of biodiversity in Ethiopia. To close the event, a Tree Planting Ceremony took place on the UN grounds to echo the need to raise awareness on protecting our biodiversity and encourage individuals to do their part, no matter how small, in caring for the environment. H.E. Prof. Joseph Nsengimana, Ambassador of the Republic of Rwanda to Ethiopia and H.E. Mr. Baudelaire Ndong Ella, Ambassador of the Republic of Gabon to Ethiopia had the honor of planting two Prunus Africana trees to officially mark the event. The second part of WED celebrations in Addis Ababa was held on June 5th, 2010 at the BioEconomy Africa (BEA) Center. A consortium of Civil Society Organizations of Ethiopia including Population, Health and Environment Consortium, Forum for Environment (FfE), and Greener Ethiopia, held a panel discussion. In addition, BEA organized a site visit for the participants to its Integrated Biofarm Center (IBC). Dr. Getachew Tikubet, Director of BioEconomy Africa, outlined that the main objective of the biofarm is to promote natural resource management through use of practical initiatives that integrate social, economic, and ecological capacity building to be utilized by farmers in their day-to-day lives. The panel outlined the following actions as the way forward: (i) mainstreaming environment in the curriculum at all levels of education, (ii) up-scaling best practices to further educate the community in order to replicate them elsewhere, and (iii) providing comparative advantage for collaborative efforts.