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Chinese Environmentalist Pledges US$1.25M to UNEP
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A Chinese bakery billionaire and world-class environmental photographer on Monday donated 2 million yuan (US$250,000) to establish an environmental fund at the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) further pledging to increase the amount to US$1.25 million over the next five years.

As part of a wide remit, the fund will support conservation at Kenya's Lake Nakuru and assist UNEP with its work in making the 2008 Beijing Olympic Games green, said Luo Hong, president of Holiland Bakeries who after founding his baking business in 1992 has seen it grow to one of the biggest bakery chains in China.

Luo signed the agreement with UN Under-Secretary General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner to seal the donation as the annual climate convention conference opened in Nairobi and just hours after returning from Lake Turkana in northern Kenya.

"Lake Turkana is often hailed as the cradle of civilization but it is also a symbol of how, as a result of climate change and other pressures, we are mistreating Mother Nature," Luo said.

Steiner thanked Luo for his generous donation and continuing environmental efforts, calling him an example of how private businessmen can help global conservation endeavors.

"If we are to defeat climate change, deliver sustainable development and eradicate poverty, we need governments but we also need all sectors of society to step up to the bar," said Steiner.

"Thus we need the engagement of the private sector and we need down to earth action by philanthropic and committed businessmen and women like Mr. Luo. There is a lot of talk about China and Africa at the moment. Mr. Luo is living proof of the positive south-south cooperation born out of a common humanity and common concern for the environment," he added.

The 39-year-old Luo is a member of the China Photographers Association. His relationship with UNEP dates back to earlier this year when a collection of his photos was exhibited at UNEP as part of World Environment Day celebrations.

(Xinhua News Agency November 7, 2006)

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