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KOFI A. ANNAN: Message on the occasion of world environment day

5 June 1997 - The theme for this year's observance is "For Life on Earth". It is meant to reaffirm a fundamental truth: that the fate of all species is shared. For if we human beings are to survive, life in all its forms must also survive.

Our quest for a healthy environment is a never-ending process. It is an attitude. A way of life.

But can we, the peoples of the United Nations, work together, despite our differences, towards the common goal of safeguarding the environment upon which all life depends? Can we stop the heedless exploitation of the earth and its bounty? And can we meet all peoples' basic needs today without jeopardizing the ability of future generations to meet their needs?

The answer is a most emphatic "yes".

This year is the 25th anniversary of the United Nations Environment Programme -- the environmental conscience of the international community. It is also the 10th anniversary of the Montreal Protocol for the preservation of the ozone layer. And it is the fifth anniversary of the Earth Summit in Brazil. In less than three weeks, world leaders and concerned citizens from around the world will gather in New York to assess progress made since that landmark conference -- progress made in implementing Agenda 21, the world's blueprint for sustainable development.

On World Environment Day 1997, let us admire the complex and fragile web of life on earth. And let us rededicate ourselves to protecting the global environment as a central element of peace, development and the eradication of poverty.

The degradation of the environment anywhere is a threat to the preservation of the environment everywhere. Each violation, wherever it occurs, can set in motion a trend -- from individuals to groups, from groups to nations, from nations to groups of nations.

So let us prevent such trends from ever occurring by learning the practical art of living in harmony with our environment. I urge all people to make environmental protection and sustainable development high priorities, not only in theory but in our daily lives. Let us do so "for life on earth".

 

Thursday 05 Jun 1997
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