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World Environment Day guests confirmed

Hon Trevor Mallard
Minister for the Environment

5 March 2008 Media Statement

World Environment Day guests confirmed

Environment Minister Trevor Mallard today announced that Dr Rajendra Pachauri (UN Inter-governmental Panel on Climate Change Nobel laureate), President Tong of Kiribati and Achim Steiner (United Nations Environment Programme Executive Director) will be coming to New Zealand to help celebrate the internationally recognised World Environment Day on 5 June this year.

"This is the first time New Zealand has hosted the United Nations Environment Programme event since its establishment in 1972. Dr Pachauri, President Tong and Mr Steiner will be joining other guests and international journalists at New Zealand’s celebrations. (biographies are attached)

"The World Environment Day theme for 2008 is ‘Working Towards a Low Carbon Economy’. New Zealand has already indicated its intention to lead the charge internationally in becoming carbon neutral. We have announced a carbon emissions trading scheme as well as around 170 initiatives by government agencies targeting action at many levels from the household to the international arena – all part of the Labour-led government's goal of New Zealand being the first truly sustainable country," Trevor Mallard said.

"Hosting World Environment Day is a tremendous opportunity for New Zealand to showcase the great things we are doing nationally, regionally and internationally to reduce the impacts of climate change. On 5 June, when heads of state, prime ministers, ministers, VIPs and organisations across the world mark World Environment Day, all eyes will be on New Zealand.

"We are encouraging community groups, district and regional councils, industry, business, sports teams, and schools to organise and participate in regional and local events. World Environment Day is intended to be a people’s event celebrated with colourful activities such as street parades, bike parades, essay and poster competitions in schools, tree planting, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns.

"The core programme includes the Art for the Environment Exhibition with works from renowned international artists; a photographic exhibition from the International Photographic Competition on the Environment; and an international children’s painting competition. More information on the event and how to get involved is at

"This is also a great chance for New Zealanders to increase their environmental awareness and put it into action. For practical information on how to be eco-friendly, (and often save money and be healthier at the same time), check out This interactive website has practical information and also invites people to register some steps for sustainability, at the section 'My Next Step'."


Biographies – World Environment Day
Following the nomination by the Secretary-General, the General Assembly, on 16 March 2006, elected Achim Steiner of Germany as Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) for a four-year term.
Mr Steiner is currently the Director-General of IUCN -- the World Conservation Union -- the world’s largest environmental network with over 1000 members including States, government agencies, and non-governmental organizations in 140 countries.
He has worked both at the grass-roots level and at the highest levels of international policy making to address the interface between environmental sustainability, social equity, and economic development.
His professional career has included assignments with governmental and non-governmental, as well as international organizations in different parts of the world. In Washington, where he was Senior Policy Adviser of the IUCN Global Policy Unit, he led the development of new partnerships between the environment community and the World Bank and United Nations system. In South-East Asia, he worked as Chief Technical Adviser on a programme for sustainable management of Mekong River watersheds and community-based natural resources management. In 1998, he was appointed Secretary-General of the World Commission on Dams, based in South Africa, where he managed a global programme of work to bring together the public sector, civil society, and the private sector in a global policy process on dams and development.
In 2001, he was appointed Director-General of the World Conservation Union, widely regarded as one of the most influential and highly respected organisations in the field of conservation, environment and natural resources management. As Chief Executive, he has held responsibility for the management and oversight of 1000 staff located in 42 countries, implementing the Union’s global work programme.
His professional track record in the fields of sustainable development policy and environmental management, his first-hand knowledge of civil society, governmental and international organizations, as well as his global experience spanning five continents make him an excellent choice to lead the United Nations Environment Programme.
Mr Steiner was born in Brazil in 1961 where he lived for 10 years. His educational background includes a Bachelor of Arts from the University of Oxford, as well as a Master of Arts from the University of London with specialization in development economics, regional planning, and international development and environment policy. He also studied at the German Development Institute in Berlin, as well as the Harvard Business School.
Mr Steiner serves on a number of international advisory boards, including the China Council for International Cooperation on Environment and Development (CCICED) and the Environmental Advisory Council (ENVAC) of the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD).


Rajendra Pachauri is director-general for The Energy and Resources Institute, which conducts research and provides professional support in the areas of energy, environment, forestry, biotechnology and the conservation of natural resources.

Prior to this, Pachauri held managerial positions with the Diesel Locomotive works in Varanasi, and served as assistant professor and visiting faculty member in the Department of Economics and Business at North Carolina State University.

In 2002, he was elected Chairman of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, and in 2001, he was awarded the Padma Bhushan by the president of India for his contributions to the environment. Pachauri taught at Yale University's School of Forestry and Environmental Studies in 2000 as a McCluskey Fellow.

In 1999, he was appointed by Japan to the Board of Directors of the Institute for Global Environmental Strategies, Environment Agency. He is also president of the India Habitat Centre.

Pachauri has sat on various international and national committees and boards, including the International Solar Energy Society, the World Resources Institute Council, the International Association for Energy Economics, and the Asian Energy Institute.

He has also contributed to the Economic Advisory Council to the Prime Minister of India; the Panel of Eminent Persons on Power, the Ministry of Power; Delhi Vision - Core Planning Group; the Advisory Board on Energy, reporting directly to the Prime Minister; the National Environmental Council, under the chairmanship of the Prime Minister; and the Oil Industry Restructuring Group, 'R' Group.

Pachauri earned an M.S. in industrial engineering, a Ph.D. in industrial engineering, and a Ph.D. in economics from North Carolina State University.


Anote Tong is serving his second term as President (Te Beretitenti) of Kiribati, after being re-elected in October last year. He also holds the cabinet portfolio of Foreign Affairs and Immigration. His constituency is Maiana Island, an outer island within sailing distance of Tarawa, the capital island.

President Tong was educated in Kiribati before attending St Bede’s College, Christchurch and graduating from Canterbury University with a Bachelor of Science degree. He later gained a Masters in Economics degree from the London School of Economics.

Before entering politics in 1994, President Tong worked in the Kiribati government sector, the Pacific Islands Forum Secretariat and a research and development unit at the University of the South Pacific, Fiji.

President Tong is noted as a leader in environmental and sustainability discussions, notably in the Pacific Islands Forum, with his country vulnerable to the impacts of climate change.

Kiribati comprises 32 atolls and one high island (Banaba Island) scattered across almost 4000km of the Pacific Ocean, straddling the equator and with the majority of atolls little more than six metres above sea level. Kiribati has recently created the world’s largest marine reserve, the Phoenix Islands Protected Area which is 410,500 square kilometres in size.

Kiribati’s population is around 100,000, with forty percent aged under 15. Economic development prospects are limited and urban population growth, overcrowding and sustainable development pose a challenge, particularly in Tarawa where half the population lives. There are also challenges with potable water, sanitation and waste disposal, coastal erosion, over-fishing and depletion of natural resources. Parts of Kiribati are currently experiencing a severe drought.


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