World Environment Day is This Week! Here's a Sneak Peek at the Rio Celebrations

It's an exciting time for Brazil. The country has energized with preparing to host the 2014 FIFA World Cup and the 2016 Summer Olympics. In addition to these global events, this June is surely going to be an exciting - and tense - time for Rio de Janeiro, as the Brazilian city will also host World Environment Day and the Rio+20 summit.

LATEST: Visit our World Environment Day page for the latest #WED2012 coverage.

This Spring, TreeHugger partnered with UNEP to host our 3rd Annual World Environment Day Blogging Competition. Scott Bartlett won the competition and will be joining me in Rio this week to cover the events on behalf of UNEP and TreeHugger.

We've just arrived in Rio and after looking over the busy itinerary of events, I want to highlight what you can look forward to this week and explain how you can get involved.

According to our partners at the United Nations Environment Programme, this year's World Environment Day celebrations are likely to be "the largest WED celebrations in the event's four-decade history."

Earlier this week, UNEP laid out some of the preparations that were underway for WED2012.

Highlights of the WED 2012 programme in Brazil include:

1 June 2012

Opening of Green Nation Fest
Museum of Natural History, Rio de Janeiro

A celebration of environment, education and entertainment, the Green Nation Festival is partnering with UNEP to celebrate WED through cinema, new media and other cultural activities. The 10-day festival aims to mobilize community action in Brazil to promote sustainable development and lifestyles. Official website (in Portuguese) is available at:

2 June 2012

Launch of Green Passport
9:00-10:00, Corcovado Monument, Rio de Janeiro

Rio+20 will see hundreds of delegates flying to Brazil from across the world, filling the city's hotels and traveling around the region; actions which could lead to a potentially high carbon footprint for the summit. UNEP has partnered with the Government of Brazil to produce a new smart phone application, which provides information on 400 environmentally friendly sites and tourism services around Rio de Janeiro. UNEP has also produced sustainability guidelines for hotels in the city. With Brazil set to host the FIFA World Cup in 2014 and the Olympic Games in 2016, the Green Passport marks a new development in efforts to promote sustainable tourism throughout the country.

4 June 2012

WED Challenge Forest Takes Root with Gisele Bündchen
09:30-11:00, Green Nation Fest, Museum of Natural History, Rio de Janeiro

UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen will plant the first of 50,000 new trees that will take root to mark WED. Gisele's forest marks the culmination of last year's WED Challenge, where the supermodel and campaigner competed with fellow UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Don Cheadle to mobilize global participation for WED. To mark the Brazilian model's victory in the WED Challenge, a new forest will be planted in her home country. Gisele will also work as a news reporter with Brazilian TV station Globo for the day, covering WED activities. Gisele will join Brazilian Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira, Mayor of Rio de Janeiro Eduardo Paes and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner for a press conference immediately following the tree-planting.

UNEP Champions of the Earth Awards
Press Conference: 4.30-5.45pm, Blue Room, Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

Award Ceremony: 8pm-12am, Crystal, Palm and Gallery Rooms, Copacabana Palace Hotel, Rio de Janeiro

The UN's flagship environment awards will be held in conjunction with WED for the first time this year. The Champions of the Earth prize recognizes leaders in the fields of policy, science, entrepreneurship, and grassroots leadership. This year, UNEP Goodwill Ambassador Gisele Bündchen will present the 2012 Champions of the Earth laureates with their awards.

5 June 2012

WED Celebrations at Presidential Palace
15:00-18:00, Palácio do Planalto, Brasilia

President of Brazil Dilma Rousseff will unveil a package of national environmental measures to mark WED. A Special Session of the Brazilian Senate on World Environment Day 2012 will follow the announcement.

6 June 2012

Global Launch of UNEP Global Environment Outlook (GEO) 5:
Press Conference and High-Level Panel Discussion

10:30-12:45, Palácio Itamaraty, Centro, Rio de Janeiro

GEO is the UN's most comprehensive environmental assessment report. GEO 5, which will be officially launched in Rio de Janeiro, provides an in-depth assessment of the state of the world environment and includes contributions from close to 300 global experts. GEO 5 will also unveil global progress towards international sustainability targets. Parallel launches will take place in several locations worldwide. More information on GEO 5 is available at:

We'll be bringing you coverage of most of these events in Rio, but you don't have to be in Brazil to participate in WED2012. As UNEP writes:

"From Algiers to Auckland, close to 8000 activities have already been registered on by WED participants across the world for 5 June. There is still plenty of time to get involved in WED 2012. Members of the public are encouraged to visit and register their green activities for 5 June."

Part of what I find most interesting about the juxtaposition of upbeat and positive World Environment Day falling a short week ahead of the hugely important Rio+20 summit is how the two events differ, even though they are focused on similar causes. I'll delve into this in more depth in future posts, but for now I just want to point out how important it is for those of us not in positions of power to show our support for World Environment Day and the theme of building a green economy.

We may not be able to force our governments to always do what we want - though we should try - but we can create environments within which the action we seek is more likely to happen. By participating in WED2012, taking some form of action, registering your event to be counted, sharing your action on social media, and contacting your elected representatives to let them know of your concern, you are joining forces with thousands of other people to help demonstrate a widespread desire for larger action on these issues.

So quit reading this and register an action! We need your help.

Get the latest by following our WED2012 page and following @UNEP and the #WED2012 hashtag on Twitter.

World Environment Day is This Week! Here's a Sneak Peek at the Rio Celebrations
We're heading to Rio for World Environment Day. Here's a sneak peek at what's happening in Rio de Janeiro this week.

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