World Environment Day a great success in Switzerland


Combined efforts to charm the public at IUCN HQ, 5 June 2004

The three environmental organizations based in Gland, Switzerland - IUCN, Ramsar, and WWF International - joined forces to host a well-attended open house on World Environment Day, 5 June 2004, helping to put Gland on the map in Switzerland as a true world centre for conservation and sustainable development. Between 800 and 1000 people passed through the doors of IUCN/Ramsar headquarters, where adults and children were both entertained and educated by an extensive marine exhibition, films and a multitude of imaginative children's games in line with the day's UNEP theme of "Wanted! Seas and Oceans - Dead or Alive?" There were expert-guided tours on the hour through IUCN's natural garden, and the day ended with over 130 prizes being given out in a tombola draw that included many donated by local commerce and IUCN suppliers.

With a dual focus on 2004 as the International Year of Rice as well as World Environment Day's Oceans and Seas theme, the Ramsar Secretariat's stand on sustainable rice production and trade focused on the example of the Ebro Delta in Spain, a Ramsar Site designated in 1993. Organic production of rice has been initiated at this Catalan site with an EU-LIFE funded project to improve the rice fields, wetlands and coastal lagoons in the delta. The exhibition of different types of organic and fair trade rice from around the world, supplied through Claro Fair Trade Ltd and certified by the Max Havelaar Fund, a well-known fair trade initiative, received great interest from the public, who eagerly picked up both Ramsar and rice leaflets, rice recipes, and a list of fair trade shops available in the area.

The "water lab" supervised by Ms Laëtitia Estève also drew great interest from children (and adults!) eager to understand various scientific phenomenon on water issues, such as the effects of oil spills, through entertaining experiments. The improvisational theatre group (see photos) worked hard to create scenes of sensitive environmental issues chosen by the public, such as GMO, radioactivity or water pollution, and delivered a performance of enormous fun with a strong message.

The WED event in Gland was considered by all participants to be a great success, and though the sunny weather doubtless contributed in part to that result, an important reason should also be found in the commitment and the friendly joint work from the three organization partners.

IUCN HQ on World Environment Day, 5 June 2004

The Ramsar stand on fair trade in rice (Annette, left; Liazzat, right)

Liazzat, Sandra, and Annette at the old stand

"Have some rice!"

The festivities outdoors

The science lady, Ms Laëtitia Estève, with lab assistant Iván from Ramsar

Live experiments and demonstrations of wetland science

The science lady makes things happen

A schematic water molecule shows stability and balance

Dueling syringes: Ramsar's Iván with the science lady (left);
Ramsar's Ahmed, the master of ceremonies (right)

Squirting water, for science

The improvisational theatre troupe from Neuchâtel . . .

wearing their Ramsar COP8 finest.


-- photos by IUCN and Ramsar

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