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Ballooning over Sanjiangyuan highlights World Water Day
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On March 22, eight hot air balloons are scheduled to fly over the Sanjiangyuan Nature Reserve on the Qinghai-Tibet Plateau to celebrate the 16th World Water Day.

Sanjiangyuan, which means "the source of three rivers", is an area where the Yangtze River, the Yellow River and the Lancang (Mekong) River originate. The 363,000-square kilometer area, a land larger than England and Wales combined, is located more than 4,000 meters above sea level and is home to the world's highest wetlands.

The balloons are scheduled to take off at the foot of Geladandong Mountain, 5,300 meters above sea level and the place where the Yangtze River originates. The event highlights the World Water Day, Jidi Majia, Deputy Governor of northwest China's Qinghai Province, announced last Friday at a press conference in Beijing.

Up in the balloons, a bird's eye view of the Sanjiangyuan will be available for photographers. Their pictures will showcase to the world the beauty and generosity of this unique region to human kind.

"The ballooning, as part of the Public Service Announcement of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), is designed to draw global attention to our ecological system, our water sources and our environment," Jidi Majia said.

Scientific research indicates that the Sanjiangyuan area presumably generates 25 percent of the Yangtze's total amount of water, 49 percent of the Yellow River's water and 15 percent of the Mekong River's water. Nearly 600 million people living downstream depend upon its bounty.

The event is a joint effort of the Qinghai Government, the State Environmental Protection Administration and the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) China office.

Fifty-two people in total will attend the ballooning activity including professional pilots, officials, geologists, botanists, environmentalists as well as journalists, scholars and artists.

World Day for Water, or unofficially World Water Day, occurs each year on March 22, as designated by the United Nations General Assembly resolution.

This day was first formally proposed in Agenda 21 of the 1992 United Nations Conference on Environment and Development (UNCED) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil. Observance began in 1993 and has grown significantly ever since.

(China.org.cn by staff reporter Wang Zhiyong, March 3, 2008)

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