World Environment Day marked with solemn reminder

The Nature’s Park in Port Moresby came alive yesterday, with environmental education and awareness as World Environment Day (WED) 2024 was commemorated. With a strong focus on forest and land restoration, the local theme, “Plant native trees to revive and restore degraded forests,” highlighted the urgent need for the restoration of degraded forests and the environment in PNG.

Led by the Conservation and Environment Protection Authority (CEPA), the event brought together a diverse group of participants, including students from various schools in the National Capital District (NCD), development partners, government representatives, private sector representatives, and civil society organizations.

“We speak highly of our 7-8% of biodiversity that exists on less than 1% of land space, but do we really promote that?” This was the question posed to the audience by CEPA’s Director for the Sustainable Environment Program, Ms. Kay Kalim.

“The theme: “Plant native trees to revive and restore degraded forests” signals that we must do more to restore our forests and the natural environment,” said Ms. Kalim. “In light of climate change and natural disasters, we must treat environmental action as daily business. Our actions must demonstrate that we care for our environment,” she added.

Ms. Kalim also challenged schools and students to allocate certain time of their classes for environmental education in order for them to be responsible citizens and contribute to the wellbeing of the environment.

Climate Change and Development Authority’s (CCDA) Acting Managing Director, Ms. Debra Sungi, in thanking the Management of CEPA for hosting the WED program, highlighted the critical roles of forests in addressing climate change.

“This year’s WED theme is fitting because, in light of climate change, most of the emissions in the country come from the agriculture, forestry, and land-use sectors, significantly from degraded forests.

“But as a country, we have the ability to restore degraded forest areas. Forests are the lungs of our planet and play an important role as carbon sinks, which we must be mindful of especially in the face of climate change,” said Ms. Sungi.

Representatives from development partners and others also shared similar insights on why it is important for everyone to be responsible citizens and understand the roles of forests and their natural ecosystems in PNG.

The highlight of the event was a ceremonial planting of native trees, symbolizing the need for ecological restoration. Participants eagerly took part, understanding that each tree planted is a step toward a greener and resilient future.

Organizations that participated in the 2024 WED commemoration include CEPA, CCDA, UNDP, FAO PNG Office, USAID, the European Union Delegation to PNG, the University of Papua New Guinea, private sectors, civil society organizations and selected schools in NDC.

In closing, Ms. Kalim, on behalf of CEPA, thanked all the participating schools, development partners, government agencies, corporate representatives, and civil society representatives for their support and participation in commemoration of thew 2024 World Environment Day.

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