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Eöffnungsrede von Herrn Alvaro Umaña (Principal Advisor of UNDP Energy and Environment Group)

Madame Minister, Ambassadors and members of the diplomatic corps, CSD delegates, distinguished guests, and friends –

Thank you for joining us on this celebration of of ‘Earth Day’ – during what I know is a very busy CSD period – for the opening of a remarkable photo exhibit which highlights several issues of great importance to the ‘Water’ focus of CSD-12 – namely, biodiversity and ecosystem services – and local communities.

On behalf of UNDP’s Energy and Environment Group and the Equator Initiative – on behalf of UNDP’s Bureau for Development Policy – which I am pleased to say is represented here by Mr. Walter Franco – I welcome you to the exhibit. For those of you who are not associated with the UN or are not delegates to the CSD, I welcome you to UN Headquarters.

The “Focus on Nature” exhibit captures the courageous efforts of local communities throughout the developing world in charting new and innovative paths to global sustainability.

I recently had the opportunity to see just how powerful the message of community action can be during my participation in the Biodiversity Convention meeting in Malaysia. The images here in the exhibit remind me strongly of the moving encounters I had there with the finalists and winners of UNDP’s Equator Prize 2004 – a prestigious international award for local work to reduce poverty and conserve biodiversity.

Among the finalists and winners of the Equator Prize 2004, I was introduced to a remarkable array of community projects from Africa, Asia and the Pacific, and Latin America and the Caribbean. The range of local successes was truly impressive:

To list just a few, they include: the establishment of eco-lodges and game reserves in East Africa, the manufacture and marketing of sustainably harvested soaps and beauty products in Brazil, the restoration of traditional marine management practices in Fiji, and the creation of sustainable lending and credit schemes in Thailand.

I am pleased to say that a representative of one of these remarkable communities is here with us tonight -- Mr. Francis Chachu Ganya – Executive Director of Equator Prize finalist “Pastoralist Integrated Support Programme” from Kenya. Mr. Chachu Ganya is in New York to share with the CSD his experience working on dryland and biodiversity issues in some of the most challenging circumstances on Earth.

Mr. Ganya and countless community leaders around the world such as those depicted in these photographs richly deserve the UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan’s recent acknowledgement, “The passion, dedication and courage with which these communities have adopted the cause of local sustainable development are a source of inspiration to the entire global community.”

I wish to reiterate the invitation from the Minister of State by saying I do hope you will join us next month, Wednesday, May 19th, at the German Mission for a symposium on biodiversity and the awarding of the Equator Prizes on the occasion of the “International Day on Biodiversity.”

And now I would like to welcome back to the podium the Honorable Kerstin Muller, Minister of State at the German Foreign Office, who will officially open the exhibit.

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