Marking this year’s Commonwealth Day, the Queen said it is often those who pollute the least who are most at the mercy of its effects.

She highlighted the vulnerability of the Nile River and the number of people who depend on it, and said it served as an example of the global environmental challenge.

Despite stretching for more than 4,000 miles, the water the Nile provides is barely enough to satisfy the estimated 123m people in nine nations who depend on it for survival.

“The example of the Nile illustrates many of the challenges facing the global environment as a whole which cannot alone sustain our lives as once it did,” the Queen said.

“Our own attitudes to the environment, and the use we put it to, may have consequences for people on every continent and for every ocean and sea.

“The impact of pollution falls unequally. It is often those who pollute the least – notably in the world’s least-developed nations – who are closest to the razor’s edge, most affected by the impact of climate change and least equipped to cope with it.”

The Queen also said it is important to remember that environmental choices in some countries are not an option in others.

She called for more support for young people’s efforts to tackle environmental problems and said Governments, businesses, communities and individuals should strive to “match good words and good intentions with deeds”.

Concluding this year’s message, the Queen said: “Whatever we do, wherever we live, our actions in defence of the environment can have a real and positive effect upon the lives of others, today and into the future.”

The theme of Commonwealth Day 2008 was The Environment – Our Future.

Kate Martin

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