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Earth Day New York 15 April 1996

THE EARTH TIMES

APRIL15 – 30, 1996

Promoting Eco-citizenship (Earth Day New York)

By Ashali Varma

The United Nations’ Environment Programme is in collaboration with Earth Day New York has scheduled a meeting on April 22.  Earth Day – to promote the concept of Global Environmental Citizenship. Elizabeth Dowdeswell, Executive Director of UNEP, said, “A world made up of counties where all citizens are concerned about the environment –a world of environmental citizens—holds great promise for all of us, and for those who follow.”

In an interview with The Earth Times, Alicia Barcena, Senior Advisor for UNEP in Mexico, said, “We are inviting NGOs and organizations that have been working with the environment including the Environment Defence Fund, the World Resources Institute and the Third World Network.  We are also inviting foundations and people working at the community level who have played an important role as intermediaries.”

The idea for the meeting is to involve the participation of these groups and to get their views on how to better promote environmental consciousness  in people in all walks of life, said Barcena, who was Executive Director of the Costa Rica-based Earth Council until recently.

Along with Consumer’s International, UNEP has prepared a tool kit for a campaign to “Save Food for All.”

“We have packaged information for consumers on toxic chemicals and chemicals in general, on bio-safety and the life cycle of a product, like how it has been grown, and on eco-labelling,” Barcena said.  “We want consumers to understand what they are buying and take action on products that are unsafe.”

Barcena said that UNEP is also very interested in working with parliamentarians.  “The information for them will be different,” she said. “We will repackage all the Conventions that exist at the global level and give them guidelines on how to respond to these in the national context.”

For universities, UNEP is producing a manual jointly with the Association of Community Colleges Canada and the International Institute for Sustainable Development, entitled “Greening Campuses and Colleges.”

“This is to help students develop a culture of environmental citizenship not only through the curriculum but in the college itself.  How to save on paper, energy, water and how to take on environmental responsibility in their everyday life,” Barcena said.

 To reach a wider audience UNEP is forming partnerships with organizations, which have large networks and constituencies that can disseminate the information Barcena said.