A message from the Director General on the occasion of World Environment Day 2017

World Environment Day is celebrated annually on 5 june by a number of UN organizations and over 143 countries in the world. Below is a message from UNIDO Director General on the occasion:

As we celebrate this year’s World Environment Day under the theme of ‘Connecting People to Nature’, we look out at a world with unprecedented levels of prosperity and well-being, mainly based on our collective ability to harness and transform the bounties of nature. We are at the same time still fortunate enough to observe a world in which natural ecosystems are largely intact, and in which nature can still be experienced and enjoyed in all regions of the globe.

Our connection to nature, however, stands at a turning point. In pursuit of economic growth, our patterns of production and consumption have placed us at a point in human history where our mark on nature can no longer be reversed. The depletion of vital natural resources and a changing climate threaten the survival of some of the world’s most vulnerable populations and will severely impact the lives of future generations.

It is against this background that we must ensure that our connection to nature does not threaten to destroy it. The adoption by the international community of the Sustainable Development Goals and the Paris Agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change underline the broad global consensus that human development and environmental sustainability can no longer be at odds. As the specialized agency of the United Nations that supports Member States in achieving inclusive and sustainable industrial development, we at UNIDO understand the symbiotic relationship between our natural environment and human prosperity.

This understanding is evidenced by the fact that today more than half of our technical cooperation portfolio is dedicated to building industries that advance competitiveness through environmental sustainability. Through 419 environment-themed technical assistance interventions in developing and transition economies, UNIDO is right now demonstrating around the world that market forces can be harnessed to build sustainable industries beyond the scope that regulations currently require. By improving resource efficiency, reducing emissions and hazardous materials, transitioning to renewable sources of energy and material inputs, we are showing that is in fact possible to build a circular economy from the ground up.

In the Gulf of Mexico, we are working to improve water quality, conserve marine resources and restore the coastal ecosystem; in Senegal, we are helping entire cities become climate resilient; in the Southern Mediterranean, we are facilitating a large-scale shift toward sustainable consumption and production; in India, we are promoting clean energy technology to small and medium enterprises. Globally, we are helping deploy know-how and technology through our specialized networks, such as the Climate Technology Centre and Network (CTCN) and the Global Network for Resource Efficient and Cleaner Production (RECPnet).

These efforts combine to map out a clear vision for a sustainable future, based on proven solutions and technologies. This vision represents a model of economic growth that no longer comes at the expense of the health of natural ecosystems, and no longer leads to the depletion of natural resources. Thanks to UNIDO, this vision is in many places already a reality.

On World Environment Day 2017, we ask you to join us in making this vision a reality for all. Our connection to nature is profound. From ancient civilizations that prospered for their ability to channel bodies of water to irrigate their crops, to the development of future megacities based on the mimicry of nature’s perfect designs, our natural environment has given us everything we need to live and thrive. Over millennia, we have been connecting people to nature; let us today make sure that we can continue to do so, for millennia to come.