Two more Chinese cities joined a list of the United Nation's greenest urban areas yesterday.
The award, given by the UN Environment Programme (UNEP), shows recognition for growing action in China to protect the environment in urban areas.
UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer awarded Shenzhen in South China's Guangdong Province and Aohan Banner, a county-level administrative region, in North China's Inner Mongolia Autonomous Region as members of the "Global 500" for their consistent efforts and remarkable achievements in protecting the local environment.
It was the second time Chinese cities on the mainland have been given the award that was launched by the UNEP in 1987. Officially called the "Global 500 Roll of Honour for Environmental Achievement," it is one of the most prestigious international environmental protection honours and includes more than 500 cities, as well as hundreds of individuals and organizations worldwide. Eight cities in seven countries were awarded for 2002.
Toepfer said the young city of Shenzhen has worked to fight against poverty through integrated efforts to develop the economy and improve the environment. Its efforts will be highlighted at the upcoming Earth Summit II in Johannesburg in August, he said.
Shenzhen was also chosen by the UNEP as the global celebration centre for the 30th World Environment Day, which takes place today.
Aohan Banner was recognized for its remarkable achievements in the past decades to fight against desertification in its suburbs.
Dalian, a port city in Northeast China's Liaoning Province, was the first city in the Chinese Mainland to receive the award last year.
Tighten laws on air and household wastes disposal have been drawn up in China in the last few years as environmental issues have been advanced in the public policy agenda.
Vice-Premier Wen Jiabao sent a letter of congratulations to the two cities and the ongoing 2002 World Environment Day Celebrations in Shenzhen.
Wen said the international community needs to further combine efforts to improve public awareness of environmental protection.
UN Secretary-General Kofi Annan also sent a message saying the theme of this year's World Environment Day - "Give earth a chance" - carries a message of emergency that sustainable development must take place.
( China Daily June 5, 2002)