WORLD ENVIRONMENT DAY 2017 Brussels
Mobilising Europeans to Connect with Nature on 5 June
World Environment Day (WED) 2017 has been celebrated extensively in Brussels, reaching tens of thousands of citizens through a number of events organised between 21 March and 5 June 2017. These events included an exhibition, a film screening followed by a panel discussion, participation in a major public event in a Brussels Park and consistent social media outreach, with in particular the dissemination of a dedicated video campaign we produced, involving some key EU policymakers and politicians directed at European citizens.
We kicked off our awareness raising on this year’s topic back in March with the launch of the #ForestCityProject exhibition on the occasion of the International Day of Forests (21 March 2017). Through stunning photography of forests and illustrations on 10 large exhibit cubes, we invited Brussels citizens to reconnect with nature in the city environment and join the global movement in the run up to #WorldEnvironmentDay to (re-)connect #WithNature. This beautiful outdoor exhibition of Revolve Media was on display between 21 March and 5 June at the International Press Centre (Residence Palace near the Schuman Square) in March, followed by the prestigious Parc du Cinquantenaire, also close to the EU institutions from April to 5 June. We estimate it has been noticed by over 20.000 people passing by the park during this period. UN Environment contributed to the #ForestCityProject of Revolve Media as knowledge partner.
Diving, backpacking or strolling through urban gardens are some of the ways European politicians connect with nature. Given the importance of this connection, they are committed to protect it. This is the message of a short video campaign we produced in the run up to World Environment Day, where top European Union (EU) officials (including European Commissioner for the Environment Karmenu Vella and 6 Members of the European Parliament) and a Belgian Minister of the Environment share their favourite place in nature and what they will do to protect it.
European Commissioner Karmenu Vella, the EU authority for nature protection, also announced a new action plan to provide stronger and better management of Natura 2000 protected sites in Europe, “promoting plans that encourage our biodiversity to recover and grow and that will bring people back to nature.”
The film, which we produced in close collaboration with the European Commission Natura2000 Network, the EP Intergroup on Climate Change, Biodiversity and Sustainable Development and the United Nations Regional Information Centre, was shared in Europe on social media between 31 May and 5 June and led to tens of thousands of impressions and hundreds of engagements.
The video message was launched live at a Cinema on 30 May, on the occasion of our UN film screening event of 'A Plastic Ocean', before an audience of 275 people.
CineONU Film screening and Facebook Live:
On 30 May we screened the documentary film ‘A Plastic Ocean’ in an attempt to connect people with nature ‘under water’.
Prior to this CineONU screening UN Environment Brussels Office co-hosted with the United Nations Regional Information Centre a Facebook Live session on 30 May with the Film Producer of ‘A Plastic Ocean’, Jo Ruxton, and Head of Unit on Marine Environment and Water Industry at the European Commission, Matjaž Malgaj, at the United Nations Regional Information Centre in Brussels. More specifically, this session was hosted on Facebook CineONU and UN Environment Europe (with over 1.2 K followed).
The subsequent film screening event of 'A Plastic Ocean' in the prestigious Cinema Galeries in the centre of Brussels, supported our objective of bringing the World Environment Day theme in connection with the forthcoming Ocean Conference held from 5 to 9 June in New York. More broadly, it supported our call to raise awareness on the major threats from marine litter to the ‘life below water’ (Sustainable Development Goal 14) and hence a great opportunity to promote our #CleanSeas campaign (see handout) and the work of some of our programmatic partners.
In an overpacked room with over 275 people, the evening programme started off with an introduction by UN Environment Brussels Officer Head Ulf Björnholm and screening of the video with European politicians. The screening of A Plastic Ocean was followed by a lively and thought provoking discussion between panel members and the audience. The panel discussion amongst Jo Ruxton (producer of A Plastic Ocean), Matjaz Malgaj (European Commission), Maria Westerdorp (Plastic Soup Foundation) and Kristian G. Moore (US mission in Denmark), was moderated by Deborah Seward, Director of the United Nations Regional Information Centre. The event ended with a reception generously offered by the US Mission to the EU.
UN Environment participation in the Brussels Capital Region celebration of World Environment Day:
On Sunday 4 June, UN Environment Brussels Office organized in association with Revolve Media and the United Nations Regional Information Centre, an Infopoint at the Festival de l'Environnement. This Festival organised on an annual basis by the Brussels Capital Region’s Department for the Environment in the Parc du Cinquantenaire, attracted over 15.000 citizens to come explore ways one can connect with nature in the city (the theme of the local celebrations).
As part of our infopoint, we promoted the stunning photo #ForestCityProject exhibition cubes which visitors could discover in different parts of the festival area, and we invited the public to take an online survey (available in English, French and Dutch) which we had developed with the Natura2000 Network in partnership with Revolve Media and the United Nations Regional Information Centre. Over 60 people actively engaged through the survey and received from us in exchange a World Environment Day T-shirt.
Visitors also received seed paper with wildflowers and salad as well as a World Environment Day ball pens and could take home a poster with the Sustainable Development Goals logos (a product of the United Nations Regional Information Centre).