India to host World Environment Day

India will host World Environment Day (WED) 2011 on June 5, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced.

The theme for this year’s WED is ‘Forests: Nature at Your Service’ and will focus on the relationship between populations and forests.

Global deforestation destroys 13 million hectares of forest every year, this roughly equates to an area equal to the size of Portugal.

India’s 1.2 billion population puts pressure on forests, especially in densely populated areas where overgrazing contributes to desertification.

The UNEP points to the Indian government’s efforts to find solutions to combat land-degradation by instituting a tree-planting system.

UNEP executive director, Achim Steiner, highlighted India’s participation in developing a green economy.

He said: “From its manufacturing of solar and wind turbines to its Rural Employment Guarantee Act which underwrites paid work for millions of households via investments in areas ranging from water conservation to sustainable land management, foundations are being laid towards a fundamental and far reaching new development path.”

India is currently planning one of the largest green energy projects in the world that will generate 20,000 megawatts of solar energy and 3,000 megawatts from wind farms.

The country has also introduced a Clean Energy Fund into its national budget which provides subsidies for green technology.

This has been the basis for a National Action Plan on Climate Change which sets specific targets on issues such as energy efficiency and sustaining the Himalayan eco-system.

The Indian government’s secretary for environment and forests, Dr T Chatterjee, said: “India’s offer to host WED is another expression of India’s strong commitment to work with the global community for sustainable development.”

In addition to being the topic of this year’s WED, the United Nations has also been declared 2011 as the International Year of Forests.

Alison Brown

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