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Celebrating World Environment Day in
Africa since 2004

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In 2006, with the theme deserts and desertification, the choice of Algeria as the host the main international World Environment Day celebrations, was most appropriate. One of the many events was a workshop in Ghardaia - a 2,000-year-old city in the Sahara desert. The workshop brought together experts who produced a call to action on the fight against desertification, which, in turn, led to the drafting of a charter on the world's deserts.

In Algiers, the UNEP publication Global Desert Outlook was launched. The report highlights the fragileness of desert environments and the pressure they face from forces such as climate change and human activity. UNEP used the occasion to launch a publication on tourism and the deserts. The President of Algeria graced the main event where he delivered a speech on the Day's theme and presented prizes to the winners of UNEP's Children's Painting Competition and to the Algerian journalist who wrote the best articles on the WED theme. In the City centre the public celebrated the Day with a parade, marching bands, flower girls and a hot air balloon which carried the WED slogan Don't Desert Drylands!


The Agency of Young Reporters of Environment and Health in Benin (AYOREB) organized a youth-led march to disseminate information about the need to protect the environment on the occasion of World Environment Day 2004. This event was followed by a live debate/conference on the state of the environment in Benin today and the expectations of the youth.


In 2004, the Ministry of Environment organized week-long festivities to celebrate World Environment Day throughout the country. From 4 to 11 June, the people of Burundi were sensitized to the need to protect their country’s natural resources, while decision-makers were urged to take the environment into account when planning for development and post-war reconstruction. The activities held during Environment Week covered a variety of topics, including a competition between youth environmental clubs, workshops, clean-up campaigns and the naming of environmental journalist of the year. They also addressed deforestation, wildfires and land degradation.


On the occasion of World Environment Day 2007, The Commonwealth Student Union (COMSU) from the University of Yaounde II Soa planted trees on the campus as a move to reduce climate change and its effects. They also had drama performances to highlight the impacts of environmental changes, and they crowned Miss Environment 2007 who will be the university’s good will ambassador on environmental issues.


The lavish Azhar Park, created where Cairo’s largest waste dump used to stand, was the venue for World Environment Day’s celebrations in the Egyptian capital in 2007. Wadi Environmental Science Center (WESC) in partnership with the British Council organized an environmental awareness festival in the park. Exhibitions showcased the work of students from all over Egypt, who participated in WESC's environmental contests throughout the year. The exhibits included recycled toys, drawings, songs, films and go karts. The event also provided an arena for Egyptian environmental NGOs to network through discussion panels. Over 3,000 people attended.




Addis Ababa

In 2006, Ethiopia maintained its tradition of celebrating World Environment Day at the national level. The event was liberally dotted with white T-shirts and caps emblazoned with the WED logo and the names of the sponsors, Coca-Cola, National Motors Company and UNEP, to name a few. At the venue, school children sang and participated in skits highlighting the negative effects of desertification and the importance of halting this widespread phenomenon. Following this, participants were invited to plant indigenous trees in the school compound where the celebration took place. In the afternoon there was a WED ceremony at the National Palace, home of H.E. President Girma Woldegiorgis.


In 2004, Earth Service, an environmental NGO in Ghana launched UNEP’s Plant for the Planet campaign. Some 1,500 people participated in the event including children from various schools, representatives of UN agencies, e.g. the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), the Food and Agricultural Organization (FAO), the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC), the United Nations Population Fund (UNFPA), government ministries, corporations and the media as well as a number of NGOs.


World Environment Day in Nairobi is usually marked by a variety of outdoors lively events on the UN compound, at schools and universities, in local communities, and major roundabouts, to name a few. In 2007, the Friends of Nairobi Arboretum (FONA) celebrated World Environment Day simultaneously with the commemoration of the Arboretum’s 100th year anniversary. Various activities marked the event including live music and dance performances, activities for children, food and drink stalls, organic farmers market, an environmental fair, a film tent showing An Inconvenient Truth and other documentaries, and a melting ice sculpture. There was also a Tree Relay Run where corporate and private teams competed at being the fastest and most original team.

Another event took place at the French Cultural Center, Alliance Francaise, which hosted the Climate Change Orchestra. This was a unique free-entrance concert where musicians, dancers and poets dedicated their inspiration to the World Environment Day celebrations.


The Environment Theme Group of Liberia, under the direction of the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the support of UNEP, UNDP and UNMIL, led the 2005 celebrations in the capital Monrovia with the theme: Green Cities – Plan for the Planet! A Liberian National Police band led a march of approximately 150 World Environment Day banner-wielding EPA staff and students through the streets of the capital. The march culminated at City Hall with the delivery of remarks by the EPA, the UN, academia and NGOs. UNHCR adopted the theme Green your camps: Improve Natural Resource Management whereby major stakeholders planted trees in a transit camp.


Madagascar hosted the regional celebrations for World Environment Day 2007. This was in recognition of this country’s commendable efforts in environmental management and particularly in preserving its unique, abundant and endemic biodiversity. The choice of Madagascar was also consistent with the theme for this year: Melting Ice – a Hot Topic? as islands are among the countries that would suffer most from the impacts of climate change. UNEP supported the organization of weeklong activities, such as exhibitions, environmental walk, speeches and conferences on climate change, and street parades.

In 2004, the United Nations Information Centre (UNIC) in Tripoli, Libya organized a one-week campaign on the environment for the general public under the title Cleaning the Beach in collaboration with the International Organization for Peace, Care and Relief, the Canadian Embassy, scouts and guides, and others. With the support of the private sector, a drawing competition was organized by the Canadian Embassy.




The NGO, Association Moultaka des Jeunes pour le Développement (AMJD), organized a training on the theme of water in 2006. Participants came from each of the 60 branches of the Association. In Fés, in the context of Word Environment Day, the Association also organized a workshop to sensitize the public about the problems of water.
Mulanje Mountain Conservation Trust commemorated the Day on 4 June 2005 at the Mulanje Community Ground with a running race for school children. Following the race, speeches, poems and songs based on the Green Cities theme were performed.


Environment Minister Luciano de Castro celebrated World Environment Day 2005 by inaugurating a landfill for the disposal of industrial waste at Mavoco in Boane District – 20 km from Maputo. The facility covers 50 hectares, and six will be used in the initial stage. The landfill is owned by the state, through the National Environment Fund (FUNAB), but it was paid for by the aluminium smeltery MOZAL. The landfill can process 3,500 tonnes of industrial waste a month. The disposal of waste from industries in Maputo, Matola and Boane is thus solved for at least the next five years.


Environment and Tourism Deputy Minister Leon Jooste announced at the World Environment Day 2005 celebrations that his Ministry, the City of Windhoek and the Namibia Chamber of Commerce and Industry had initiated an environmental management planning programme for the capital. He also announced that the Ministry was finalizing the Pollution and Waste Management Bill and associated regulations. These laws would make environmental assessment mandatory in all developments, including construction projects in towns.

Cape Town

In 2006, the City of Cape Town organized its 8th Youth Environmental School (YES) programme, with the theme local solutions for global challenges. Some 60 organizations presented 73 different activities across the city, as part of the programme that was open to all primary schools and free of charge. More than 30,000 students from 140 schools benefited from the programme this year. Then, on 10 June, YES hosted an eco-schools workshop that was attended by some 150 teachers and service providers. Through environmental education, Cape Town's YES aims to form partnerships towards conserving, protecting, nurturing and caring for the environment and invoke in young people a sense of pride and responsibility that promotes environmentally sustainable lifestyles, behavior and actions.


In 2004, the National Consumers and Environmental Alliance of Togo, a network of 13 NGOs, organized a meeting, which touched on issues affecting oceans and seas by the region’s largest industrial companies as well as the agricultural overuse of chemical fertilizers in coastal regions and near rivers. The meeting called on the government and the public to take appropriate action to protect marine ecosystems. On 5 June, more than 4,000 people marched through the main streets of the capital. The hour-long march helped draw the country’s attention to the growing risks to seas and oceans and the need to adopt urgent measures to protect them.