New Delhi: India will host this year`s World Environment Day on Sunday and the government has announced that the country will continue to play a very important role in defining the terms of environmental debate at the global level.
Each year a different country is chosen as the principal venue for the global celebration of World Environment Day which falls on June 5 and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has selected India as the global host of this year`s programme.
The theme of this years celebration is "Forests: Nature at Your Service", which highlights the crucial environmental and economic roles played by the forests, particularly in India.
"The message is largely to the international community that India is willing and determined to play and is playing a very important role in defining the terms of environmental debate," Environment Minister Jairam Ramesh in his message to the world on the occasion.
"It is not just environmental issues. It is also developmental issues. We have seen this in climate change area, we have seen this in biodiversity area and we will continue to be a very pro-active player internationally."
Explaining why India wanted to become the global host, Ramesh said the theme is about forestry conservation, livelihoods, the balance between economic growth and environmental protection and no other countries exemplifies this challenges more vividly than India.
"And also the fact that in 1972, when first UN conference on world environment took place, the person who brought on to the centre-stage the developmental dimension on the environmental issue was India`s Prime Minister Indira Gandhi," the Minister said.
In his message, Achim Steiner, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), said "this year marks a first for the long standing relationship between India and the United Nations."
"With a population of 1.2 billion people, a rapidly growing economy and a diverse cultural past, present and future there is enormous potential for India to catalyse and to champion sustainable development nationally and internationally," Steiner said.
According to the UNEP, India has successfully introduced projects that track the health of nation`s plants, animals, water and other natural resources including the Sundarbans-- the largest deltaic mangrove forest in the world, and home to one of India`s most iconic wildlife species: the tiger.