World Environment Day message
Saving the common land

Xie Zhenhua looks forward to hosting World Environment Day 2002 in the City of Shenzhen

The Earth is the cradle of life and the common homeland of humankind. A comprehensive survey into 4.6 billion years of the Earth’s evolution indicates that approximately 10,000 years were spent in the agricultural era and 200 years in the industrial revolution. In this course a splendid civilization and society have been created. However, incessant exploitation by human beings has left Mother Earth ravaged. A number of problems including environmental pollution, ecological destruction, population expansion, resource shortage and environmental deterioration, increasingly put human survival and development at risk. These problems all force us to review and ponder the path that human beings have taken.

The first United Nations Conference on the Human Environment was held on 5 June 1972, marking the beginning of the pursuit of integrating environmental and economic development after a long period of exploitation. The United Nations Conference on Environment and Development was convened in 1992, and the strategy of sustainable development was thus recognized and universally accepted. Since then, a consensus has been developed amongst international communities to preserve the environment, care for the Earth and undertake sustainable development.

Safeguarding the Earth
In the course of long human history, 30 years are merely the twinkling of an eye. However, during the past three decades, human society has made unremitting efforts to save our ailing homeland. Though there are differences and debates on approaches to environmental protection, the joint effort of all nations to address the environmental crisis and safeguard the Earth has become an immense historical trend.
Our hope is to leave a beautiful world to our future generations
It is a tradition of Chinese people to love nature, treasure the environment, focus on human needs, and pursue harmonization between humans and nature. Through 30 years of efforts in China, environmental protection has become the basic state policy – and environmental awareness has been dramatically raised. The strategy of sustainable development has become a guideline for all levels of government in China in directing social and economic development, and it has also been effectively translated into practice.

Meeting the challenge
As a developing country with a large population and relatively scarce resources, China is severely challenged in facing environmental protection. However, the Government of China has not only been devoted to addressing domestic environmental problems, but also actively involved in global environmental cooperation.

This year is the International Year of Mountains; the international celebration for World Environment Day 2002 will be held in the City of Shenzhen of Guangdong Province, China. Is it not a great pleasure to have friends from afar? We will be more than happy to receive and give hospitality to all the distinguished guests present. Taking advantage of the occasion, we will be glad to exchange views, discuss plans for environmental protection, and promote the cause of environment and development with all our colleagues. It is certainly our hope to leave a beautiful world with bluer skies, greener mountains, and cleaner water to our future generations. May Mother Earth be full of vitality

Xie Zhenhua is Minister of the State Environmental Protection Administration of China.

PHOTOGRAPH: Susan Zheng/UNEP/Topham

This issue:
Contents | Editorial K. Toepfer | Saving the common land | Aiming high | Mighty, but fragile | Walking the talk | Regreening the slopes | For the people | High priorities | Natural beauty | Prospects for WSSD: Towards Johannesburg | Along a steep pathway | The height of trouble | Disneyland or diversity? | Path to discovery | On top of the issue | Peak condition | Swimming upstream | Cloudy future

Complementary articles in other issues:
Issue on Transport and communications 2001
Ye Ruqiu: Cutting carbon (Energy) 2001

Complementary report:
Mountain Watch Report