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Roundup: FAO, European countries mark World Environment Day by calling for protecting biodiversity

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United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and a string of European countries Friday marked World Environment Day, calling for steps to make the world more resilient as it emerges from the coronavirus pandemic.

BETTER NATURE, BETTER HUMAN HEALTH

Qu Dongyu, director-general of the Rome-based United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), speaking at a virtual World Environment Day event, said protecting the environment leads to better health outcomes.

“Biodiversity provides the necessary infrastructure that supports life on earth,” Qu said. “We have to build up biodiversity. We now have an excellent opportunity to rethink the relationship between humans, animals, and the environment.”

“Better nature means better human health,” Qu concluded.

At FAO, the day was marked with a focus on biodiversity and a special “virtual” event.

“We are focused on the big global problem of the day, which is the coronavirus pandemic,” Berhe Tekola, the director of FAO’s Animal Health and Production Division, told Xinhua.

“But by protecting biodiversity, by advising people in poor countries on how they can eat more safely and how they can avoid environmental damage,” Tekola said, “we can have better health outcomes, and the world would be safer from some of the contagions that cause certain kinds of disease.”

LONG-SIGHTED POLICIES” NEEDED

Sergio Mattarella, Italy‘s president, made a similar point on the occasion of World Environment Day, themed “Time for Nature” this year.

“The dramatic events that have recently touched the whole of our planet demand that we acknowledge the essential link between the equilibrium of nature and our survival,” he said.

“To emerge from the difficulties that we are faced with today, we have an extreme need for research and for long-sighted policies that can imagine and render accessible a near future of sustainable prosperity,” the president continued.

Albanian President Ilir Meta also appealed for more efforts on environmental protection. Via a Twitter post, Meta said that no one should allow mismanagement of urban waste and air pollution to damage citizens’ lives.

Albania lacks nothing to be the ‘diamond’ of the Mediterranean and Europe,” Meta said, calling for everyone’s contribution in protecting the country’s nature.

In neighboring North Macedonia, the government also reaffirmed commitment to preserved biodiversity.

North Macedonia abounds with natural rarities and is fortunate to be endowed with rich biodiversity, but at the same time, it is our duty to preserve it,” the government said in a statement.

GREEK GOV’T PITCHES E-MOBILITY

To mark World Environment Day, Greek Prime Minister Kyriakos Mitsotakis presented a plan for promoting electromobility. The target is for one in three new vehicles in the country to be electric by 2030.

Under the plan, the state would offer financial incentives for switching to electric vehicles. The incentives would cover about 25 percent of the cost for about 14,000 new electric cars, Mitsotakis said.

He said the funds allocated for this purpose would reach 100 million euros (113 million United States dollars) over 18 months.

Electric cars would also be exempt from parking fees for two years, and charging costs would be deductible from taxable income, the Greek leader said.

The government also aims to increase the number of electric buses on Greek roads. In an upcoming tender for new buses to be used in public transportation in Athens and Thessaloniki, a significant percentage would have to be electric vehicles.

(XINHUA)

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