World Environment Day 2007
MELTING ICE - A HOT TOPIC? The arrangements are webcasted on the following links:
Our common future: SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT - 20 YEARS ON. A GLOBAL PERSPECTIVE ON HOW TO SUCCEED, Monday 4 JUNE at 1015
Climate conference: MELTING ICE - A HOT TOPIC, 4 and 5 JUNE
Nordic conference: NORDIC PERSPECTIVES, 5 JUNE at 1330
NRK-broadcasted events: WORLD ECUMENICAL CEREMONY and GALA EVENT ON GLOBAL WARMING
Norway is honoured to host the international World Environment Day 2007 celebrations in recognition of the hot topic of melting ice. More than a hundred nations are celebrating this day, and the theme is highly relevant.
Ice plays a critical role in shaping our planet's environment. Ice—in the form of sea ice, glaciers, ice caps and snow—reflects some of the sun's heat, cooling the planet. In contrast, the dark surfaces of the open sea and snow-free ground absorb heat., As ice disappears, the earth retains more of the sun’s heat. And as the earth warms up, more ice melts. Through this feedback process, declining ice strengthens global warming.
The earth's climate is changing. At the moment this is most noticeable in the Arctic, where the average temperature has risen at twice the rate as in the rest of the world during the past few decades. The reduction of sea ice is likely to have devastating consequences for the flora and fauna that are specially adapted to the extremes of the harsh Arctic environment, such as polar bears and ice-dependent seals, as well as the people for whom these animals are a primary food source. In addition, the Arctic is the final dumping ground for contaminants, brought by winds and sea currents from the industrial centres of the world into the far north. The situation of indigenous people of the Arctic has become precarious.
Climate change in the Arctic affects people's lives all over the world. Melting ice is not limited to the polar areas, but is also occuring in mountainous areas in many parts of the world. The global impacts are important:
1/ Ice holds large freshwater supplies and is a vital part of the ecosystem. A rise in temperature leads to a reduction of ice and snow in mountain chains like the Himalayas and the Andes. This changes the supply of freshwater via rivers, and affects agriculture, human health, plant and animal life in the areas which depend on this flow of freshwater from the mountains.
2/ Melting polar ice sheets contribute to a rise in sea level, which affects the people living on low islands and in low lying coastal areas. Numbers of climate refugees might reach enormous dimensions if millions of people in densely populated, low-lying countries are forced to move by rising sea levels. In the South Pacific, this has already begun to occur in some low-lying islands.
The events of World Environment Day will be organized in cooperation with UNEP. Norway will also use this occasion to mark that 2007 is the start of the International Polar Year, which will have significant impact on the spread of knowledge about the polar regions.
The main celebrations will be held in Tromsø, a city with a living polar history and a centre for polar research. The city has the world's northernmost university and the Norwegian Polar Institute, both of which are key players in the research arena.
The impacts of melting ice will reach far beyond the Arctic, affecting global climate, sea level, biodiversity and many aspects of human social and economic systems. Melting ice and climate change thus demand urgent attention by decision makers and the public worldwide. With this in mind, the World Environment Day will be celebrated the first week of June 2007 through the following events:
- Street celebrations
- Sofie Prize award
- International conference
- Courses, education
- Ecumenical ceremony
- Youth film festival
The World Environment Day international website
Visit the international website at http://www.unep.org/wed/2007/English/