Assembly President calls for unity in protecting planet on Earth Day

22 April 2009
Alternative fuel vehicles are being used to reduce emissions

As the United Nations General Assembly officially designated 22 April as International Mother Earth Day, its president called on States to “cooperate in a spirit of global partnership to conserve, protect and restore the health and integrity of the Earth's ecosystems.”

General Assembly President Miguel D’Escoto stressed that developed countries bear the responsibility for supporting an urgent shift to sustainable development.

“The technologies and financial resources they command can also assist developing countries in the transition to modes of production that are sustainable and assure the universal rights to such dwindling resources as clean air and water and healthy food,” said Mr. D’Escoto.

Addressing the Assembly, Mr. D’Escoto emphasized the role of indigenous communities in environmental management and development because of their traditional knowledge and practices.

“States should recognize and duly support their identity, culture and interests and enable the effective participation of indigenous peoples in the achievement of sustainable development,” he said.

While noting that the world has been slow to respond to the emergencies posed by global warming and “the reckless damage we are doing to our planet,” Mr. D’Escoto paid tribute to the UN, which “has been in the forefront of a global campaign to raise consciousness about the right of all humans to live a healthy life in harmony with nature.”

The 1972 UN Conference on the Human Environment in Stockholm marked the beginning of a global awareness of the interdependence between people, other living species and our planet, as well as the establishment of World Environment Day on 5 June and the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), he said.

“Today the United Nations and so many dedicated non-governmental organizations [NGOs] that organized this event reaffirm our relationship to Mother Earth and our responsibility to coming generations to enhance our rights to a healthy environment and thereby promote the opportunities for peace and justice for all citizens,” Mr. D’Escoto said.


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