“On this World Environment Day, I urge people and governments everywhere to overcome indifference, combat greed and act to preserve our natural heritage for the benefit of this and future generations,” said UN Secretary-General Ban Ki Moon on World Environment Day this year.

The World Environment Day (WED) is one of the most important United Nations’ days for encouraging worldwide awareness and action for the protection of the environment. Since its launch on June 5, 1974, the WED has grown to become a global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated in over 100 countries. It is used by governments, including Sri Lanka, as a launch pad to create awareness of the need to safeguard the environment by organising numerous activities that engage the general public.

While a WED theme draws attention each year to a globally relevant theme, this year the focus was on the illegal trade in wildlife. Under the slogan: ‘Go Wild for Life,’ this year’s theme promoted zero tolerance for the illegal trade in wildlife by taking action to protect all species under threat and safeguarding them for future generations.

This year, the Sri Lanka UN-REDD Programme participated in the WED celebrations from June 3 to 6 at the Kotaweheramankada Maha Vidyalaya in the Uva province. The event was organized by the Centre for Environment Justice (CEJ), a member of the Sri Lanka Climate and Forest Action Network (SLCFAN) established under the UN-REDD Programme. This WED celebration took place in a rural area in Thanamalwila, near Bogahapelessa and Soragune forest areas. It facilitated the sharing of knowledge and raised environment-related awareness by prompting face-to-face discussions between the public and government representatives and non-government participants.

By creating awareness of REDD+ and communicating the need for a forest-centric land use change master plan that is developed with the input of all relevant stakeholders, the Sri Lanka UN-REDD Programme aims to draw the attention of the public to the proposed National REDD+ Strategy, which is now nearing completion. Apart from participating at this event, the Sri Lanka UN-REDD Programme also supported the Mahaweli Development and Environment Ministry through the Forest Department to launch a newspaper awareness campaign during the National Environment Week, which was celebrated from May 30 to June 5, this year.

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