Working towards greater community control over land, forests and natural resources

Laos to mark World Environment Day

Vientiane Times, 3 June, 2013

Laos will join the global community to observe the World Environment Day on June 5, aiming to promote awareness of the importance of preserving our biodiversity and the need to identify problems related to the environment. The celebration takes place as the world is trying to tackle numerous environmental challenges including climate change, global warming, disasters, environmental governance, ecosystem management and resource efficiency.

Minister of Natural Resources and the Environment Mr Noulinh Sinbandhit delivered his address to mark the event, highlighting the significance of the day and how it is important for Laos. Mr Noulinh said Laos remains a country of abundant resources with a well preserved environment, contributing to the socio-economic development of the country and improving the livelihoods of local people.

He also touched upon some challenges, saying that some natural forestry areas in Laos have been cut down to make way for rubber, eucalyptus and other industrial tree plantations as well as concession land for development projects, which is negatively impacting the country’s forests, land and rivers.

In addition, population growth in the country has led to increasing urbanisation with more people from rural areas moving to the cities. The problems that come along with urbanisation include the encroachment of agricultural land, garbage, waste water and so on. However, the Lao government attaches great importance to environmental protection and sustainable development, aiming to ensure the continued growth of the country’s economy and poverty reduction efforts.

The theme for this year’s World Environment Day celebrations is Think.Eat.Save, encompassing an anti-food waste and food loss campaign that encourages you to reduce your food-print. According to the UN Food and Agriculture Organisation (FAO), every year 1.3 billion tonnes of food is wasted. This is equivalent to the same amount produced in the whole of sub-Saharan Africa.

At the same time, one in every seven people in the world go to bed hungry and more than 20,000 children under the age of five die from hunger on a daily basis. Each year, World Environment Day is hosted in a different city with a different theme for one week that kicks off on June 5.

A World Environment Day theme is selected along with an Environment Day slogan, which aims to emphasise the importance of protecting our planet and promote an understanding that everyone can play a significant and effective role in tackling environmental issues. World Environment Day is celebrated in many ways in countries such as Kenya, New Zealand, Poland, Spain and the United States. Activities include street rallies and parades, as well as concerts, tree planting, and clean-up campaigns.

In Laos, the Ministry of Natural Resources and Environment is collaborating with various sectors to organise a number of activities to mark the day including building clean schools, tree planting activities, clean-up campaigns, environmental workshops, photo contests and interviews with leaders.

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