Monday, 3 June 2013

World Marathon Record Holder Patrick Makau Kicks Off World Environment Day

Kenya’s Patrick Makau - the marathon world record holder - officially launched the Ulaanbaatar Marathon today in Mongolia, as part of festivities leading up to World Environment Day (WED) on 5 June.

Makau - a Clean Air Patron for the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) - flagged off over 400 runners, who made their way past the new skyscrapers and construction sites that dominate the capital city of one of the world’s fastest-growing economies.

The star athlete will remain in Mongolia this week to promote World Environment Day (5 June) - the UN’s biggest event for positive action on the environment, which is organized by UNEP. Mongolia is hosting global WED celebrations for the first time.

As the marathon runners crossed the finish line under the steely gaze of statues of national hero Genghis Khan, Makau highlighted the need to continue efforts to tackle air pollution - an issue that remains of one Ulaanbaatar’s most critical environmental challenges.

“Whether it is in Kenya or Mongolia, when we are competing as athletes, clean, pollution-free air is essential,” he said.

“In the run-up to World Environment Day, it is important that we continue efforts to reduce air pollution, and the serious damage to health and the environment that it causes. Such actions can reduce disease levels and ensure we leave a healthy environment for future generations,” added Makau.

Due to Ulaanbaatar’s rapid population growth, the number of vehicles in the city has doubled over the past decade. According to the World Health Organization (WHO), over half of Ulaanbaatar’s vehicles do not meet emissions standards, and 80 per cent of the fleet is over 10 years old.

Kenya is among 30 countries that have joined the Coalition to express support for scaled-up actions across the transport, oil and gas, and waste sectors to limit emissions of these and other substances, collectively known as short-lived climate pollutants (SCLPs).

World Environment Day celebrations will continue in Mongolia this week, before climaxing on 5 June. Events are set to include the launch of the country’s first wind farm, and a number of activities focusing on sustainable mining, indigenous communities, and the growth of the country’s eco-tourism industry.