Isabelle Durant, Vice President of the European Parliament, Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director and Dame Vivienne Westwood, British fashion designer, gathered together in Brussels to launch the UN Environment Programme (UNEP)’s new ‘GreenUp’ initiative, conceived to bring the Green Economy closer to Europeans, where Dame Vivienne unveiled her Tree-shirt to raise funds for re-connecting Europe’s forests.
Dame Vivienne said that she had agreed to be part of GreenUp because of her deep concerns about climate change. She told the audience that by buying a “Tree-shirt”, they would be contributing to planting trees to provide corridors between Europe’s fragmented forests where “animals would be able to party”.
She said that it was crucial to involve the public in sustainable alternatives, especially in Europe where our consumption footprint is high. “Public opinion is the only thing to save us. Without it, I do believe we are an endangered species.” But she also added that governments should connect with civil society to speed up the protection of forests.
Isabelle Durant stated that she hoped GreenUp would bring together people who had the same concerns and she pointed out that if people care, then politicians will care too.
According to Achim Steiner, the aim of GreenUp was to demystify the concept of a green economy in the run up to Rio+20. In answer to a question about how we could judge the success of Rio if there was no legally binding outcome, Mr Steiner said that we don’t need more negotiating instruments, rather we should live up to existing ones. We need to shift the paradigm and take responsibility collectively.
As Dame Vivienne Westwood concluded, we live in a world of consumption, the antidote to which is culture and art. We should focus on the good life, one which involves less greed. “We are dangerously short of culture and of people’s appreciation of what is actually a good life.”
Edited: K. Davies
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