World Environment Day 2011–Forests: Nature at Your Service-Statement of the UNDP Administrator

Jun 5, 2011

The loss of biodiversity and the changing climate are among the most prominent issues on the international agenda. These are not only environmental concerns; the issues are linked to the nature of economic development, poverty reduction, natural disasters, and peace and security. The health of the world’s biodiversity and climate is fundamental to all aspects of human well‐being.

One can refer to no better example than forests – the theme of this year’s World Environment Day – to make this point. In forests, we certainly find wood, the basis of so many products. But, for hundreds of millions of people, forests also provide food and water. They provide lifesaving medicines. In many cultures and religions they hold great spiritual value. Forests produce oxygen, capture carbon, store fresh water, and are home to a myriad of plant and animal species which each play a crucial role in the ecosystems which sustain life on earth. UNDP, UNEP, and FAO launched UN‐REDD to support REDD+, which helps countries to protect their forests.

When we impoverish the environment, we impoverish ourselves. It is the poorest who are hardest hit. Their lives are most directly dependent on the environments in which they live, and they are least able to protect themselves from the impacts of deforestation, change in rainfall patterns, or rising sea levels.

On World Environment Day, let us remember that for the world’s poorest people, a sustainable environment is a matter of survival. That was acknowledged at the successful biodiversity summit in Nagoya last year, and was underscored in Cancun at the international climate change negotiations. It drives our preparations for the next major climate change conference at the end of this year in Durban, and for 2012's Rio +20 Summit. Green, low‐emission and climate resilient strategies which lay the foundations for sustainable human development are at the heart of the work of UNDP around the world.