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Expecting this World Environment Day to be most exciting ever: UN Environment Chief

Noting that WED will be a celebration and a call to action and leadership, Solheim said India is the “perfect” place for that to happen. World Environment Day (WED) celebrations has already begun in the national capital and across the country from June.

Prime Minister Narendra Modi is scheduled to chair the plenary session on June 5, where all state environment ministers will also be present, which will culminate the five-day celebrations.

“We’re expecting this to be the most exciting and inspiring World Environment Day ever!,” Solheim said.

June 5 was designated as World Environment Day by the UN General Assembly to commemorate the opening of the Stockholm Conference on Human Development. Annual celebrations of World Environment Day began in 1974. The theme of WED 2018 is ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’.

“We are campaigning on the theme of ‘Beat Plastic Pollution’ and India is truly showing global leadership on this issue. It’s about being less wasteful, being smarter in how we design and use products, and protecting our own nations and also our common oceans,” Solheim said.

Noting that action now is “critical” he said that “if we do not stop treating our oceans as a rubbish dump, then we’ll turn them into a plastic soup where waste is more common than life”. “So we’re asking for three things: action from ordinary people, who have enormous power as consumers. We want the private sector to show greater accountability for where their products end up, and to innovate and develop low impact, reusable and recyclable products. “And we want governments to fill the policy gaps, and ensure there are clear incentives for doing the right thing,” the UN environment chief said.

He said that there is now a “clear momentum” on this issue and around the world, from Chile to Costa Rica, from the United Kingdom and the European Union and from Rwanda and Kenya to India, governments are taking “clear and decisive action” against plastic pollution. “In India, we’re seeing advances not just on this issue, but also on the wider need for us to be more efficient and less wasteful. It’s the drive towards a green and circular economy that will inspire the world. “World Environment Day will therefore be a celebration and a call to action and leadership. India is the perfect place for that to happen!,” Solheim said.

Union Environment Minister Harsh Vardhan had also urged people to give up single-use plastic while asserting that the fight against plastic menace did not require big actions, but only minor behavioural changes and adopting ‘Green Good Behaviour’.

Highlighting the menace posed by plastic, he had said that 25,940 tonnes of plastic waste is generated every day in the country with 40 per cent of plastic waste being uncollected, and 60 million tonnes of solid waste is generated in one year. “Plastic bottle takes between 450-1000 years to decompose,” he had said.

As part of WED celebrations, several workshops and thematic sessions on various issues has already begun in the national capital. The environment ministry had said the pan-India events include cleanliness campaigns by state governments, cleaning of 24 beaches and 24 rivers in 19 states, making national parks and sanctuaries plastic free, media as well as social media campaigns and organising Envithon mini-marathons in five other cities, besides Delhi.

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