United Nations Selects San Francisco to Host World Environment Day 2005

(June 4, 2004)

San Francisco – United Nations World Environment Day is one of the most important events on the international environmental calendar. It is celebrated around the world on June 5, and each year the United Nations selects a major city to host the main celebrations. This year the host is Barcelona, Spain. Previous hosts include London, Tokyo and Rio de Janeiro.

San Francisco has been selected host city for World Environment Day 2005, the first time ever in North America. 2005 is also the 60th anniversary of the United Nations, which was founded at the 1945 charter convention in San Francisco.

"San Francisco is proud of its environmental leadership, so it's a great honor that the United Nations has selected our city to host World Environment Day," said Mayor Gavin Newsom. "We will work to make sure that World Environment Day in San Francisco leaves a legacy that will advance environmental wellbeing here at home and around the world."

The theme for World Environment Day 2005 is "Green Cities: Where the Future Lives." It will feature a series of special events focusing on urban environmental issues such as recycling, renewable energy, resource conservation, environmental justice and public health. Representatives of the world's largest cities will share ideas and experiences, establish goals for urban environmental improvement, and identify the tools needed to achieve these goals. This all will be compiled into a document called the San Francisco Urban Environmental Accords.

"It is most fitting that San Francisco, birthplace of the United Nations and one of the world's most dynamic urban areas, will be the host city for the global celebration of World Environment Day 2005," said United Nations Secretary General Kofi Annan. "As cities grow - from migration or from increases in population - their inhabitants need a well-planned, clean, healthy and safe environment in which to raise their children and pursue their dreams. I am glad that San Francisco is committed to doing its part and working with the United Nations in pursuit of this objective, and very much look forward to a successful and creative commemoration of World Environment Day 2005."

Actor Robert Redford, a member of the honorary host committee, noted that "addressing challenges unique to urban environments around the globe will make or break the prospect of a truly sustainable future for world society." He added that it is "heartening to know that those doing the most cutting edge thinking, putting forth exciting innovations and vision, policy and advocacy will come together in [San Francisco,] a diverse, passionate and spirited city to work toward this most important goal."

World Environment Day was established by the United Nations General Assembly in 1972. The purpose of the awareness-raising event is to give a human face to environmental issues; empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development; promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues; and advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future.

San Francisco's Environment Department is the lead city agency organizing World Environment Day festivities. SF Environment's mission is to improve, enhance, and preserve the environment, and to promote San Francisco's long-term wellbeing. SF Environment does this by developing innovative, practical and wide-ranging environmental programs, fostering groundbreaking legislation, and educating the public by providing comprehensive and easily accessible information on a wide range of sustainable practices.

In addition to providing environmental policy direction for the Mayor and Board of Supervisors, SF Environment delivers service programs for San Francisco residents and businesses including recycling, toxics reduction, resource efficient building, environmental justice grants, and energy efficiency. Some of SF Environment's goals include attaining 75 percent recycling by 2010, curbing San Francisco's greenhouse gas emissions to 20 percent below 1990 levels by 2012, and shutting down Hunters Point Power Plant by 2005.

World Environment Day is a people's event with observations and activities including special museum exhibits, bicycle rides, concerts, movie screenings, tree planting, as well as recycling and clean-up campaigns. For information updates, visit www.wed2005.org.


Mark Westlund (415) 355-3714