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CUW Pacific Release

Media Release - 7 September 2007

Pacific countries lead the way in the fight against climate change

Thousands of people across the Pacific will take action to help limit the impacts of climate change as part of Clean Up the World Weekend celebrations on the 14th-16th of September.

Pacific countries including Tonga, the Cook Islands and Vanuatu will join an estimated 35 million people from over 120 countries around the world participating in Clean Up the World, one of the world's largest global environmental campaigns.

More than 4,000 people will participate in a nationwide clean up in Tonga being organised by Clean Up the World member organisation the Tonga Solid Waste Management Project in conjunction with a number of departments and national organisations including the Department of Health, the Department of Tourism, the Department of Education, the Department of Environment, the National Youth Congress, Maa Lahi and members of the media.

In Vanuatu, the Australian High Commission is coordinating a number of community environmental events as part of the Clean Up the World Weekend, as is the National Environment Service in the Cook Islands.

Organiser of the event in Tonga Talita Maile Helu, said the Clean Up the World Weekend is a great time for the Pacific community to get involved and help make a positive impact on the local environment.

"Having a clean, healthy environment is completely dependent on us - it's in our hands," Talita Maile Helu said.

"Tonga has a problem with waste - people don't know what to do with their litter so it just ends up in our environment. The Clean Up the World Weekend is a great time to put a stop to that."

Clean Up the World founder Ian Kiernan AO* said communities in Pacific countries are playing their part in the fight for a cleaner environment.

"Last year there were more than 3,000 people involved in the Clean Up the World Weekend in Tonga and this year we're expecting more than 4,000 - which is just fantastic," Mr Kiernan said.

"It is a demonstration of how much the people of the Pacific care about the environment.

"The Pacific is one of the most beautiful places on the planet - we need to ensure that beauty is protected for future generations.

"I'm encouraging everyone to get involved in the Clean Up the World Weekend in some way - millions of people taking simple water conservation measures, and recycling of waste adds up to a huge environmental benefit for the planet."

For information about the Clean Up the World Weekend visit www.cleanuptheworld.org

*AO - Order of Australia awarded for distinguished service of a high degree to Australia or to humanity at large.

Clean Up the World is a campaign held in conjunction with our Primary Partner UNEP. Sponsors - Brambles and Qantas. Global Media Partner - National Geographic Channels International. Supporters - The Australian Government through the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade and Marriott International.

Of the 650 Clean Up the World participating members in 2007, over 190 come from Africa; 180 from Asia Pacific; 90 from Europe; 150 from Latin America and the Caribbean; 25 from North America; and 15 from West Asia.

Of the 115 countries involved in 2007, those with the highest numbers of participating members  are Nigeria then Kenya in Africa, India then the Philippines in Asia Pacific, Argentina then Mexico in Latin America, Spain then the United Kingdom in Europe, USA then Canada in North America and United Arab Emirates in West Asia.

The Clean Up campaign started in 1989 when an Australian solo-yachtsman and builder Ian Kiernan, appalled by the amount of rubbish he came across while sailing, organized a clean up of the Sydney Harbour, during which some 40,000 volunteers removed rusted car bodies, plastics, glass bottles and cigarette butts from the water.

The campaign went global in 1993, with Sydney becoming Clean Up the World's headquarters. Today it brings together hundreds of members from around the world ranging from local community groups to national campaigns that carry out environmental projects throughout the year.

In 2007, Clean Up the World is celebrating 15 years of environmental action and achievement.

For more information, visit www.cleanuptheworld.org