UN Secretary-General Ban Ki- moon on Wednesday spotlighted the plight of small island nations, and called for strengthened international endeavor inspired by their efforts to address climate change.
"The world's small island nations, which are collectively home to more than 63 million people, are renowned as prized destinations: places of outstanding natural beauty, vibrant culture and music appreciated around the globe," Ban said in his message in commemoration of the World Environment Day (WED), which is observed annually on June 5.
This year's WED falls during the International Year of Small Island Developing States, declared by the UN General Assembly to raise awareness of the special needs of this diverse coalition as part of the global discussion on how to achieve a sustainable future for all.
In his message, Ban underscored the important role of small island nations in protecting the oceans, saying many are biodiversity hotspots, containing some of the richest reservoirs of plants and animals on the planet.
He also pointed out the numerous challenges small island nations face, and urged everyone to think about the plight of small island developing states and to take inspiration from their efforts to address climate change, strengthen resilience and work for a sustainable future.
Initiated in 1972 and run by UN Environment Program (UNEP), WED is the UN's principal vehicle for encouraging global awareness and action for the environment. Over the years it has grown to be a broad, global platform for public outreach that is widely celebrated by stakeholders in over 100 countries.
This year, the event for the Day is being globally hosted by Barbados, a small Caribbean island nation leading the way in solar energy. The Caribbean island, which is at the cutting edge of the fight against climate change, becomes the first small island developing state to host WED.