Participation in the September 18 World Cleanup emphasises the importance of creating a green and healthy urban environment
The World Cleanup Day, which will take place on September 18 this year, was marked by a discussion “Green and Healthy Urban Environment” in Riga Castle. During the event, which was also attended by President Egils Levits, the participants discussed how to promote a greener and healthier urban environment and how people themselves can change the environment around them. During the event, the opening of the second Happiness Tree Park was announced, which will take place on September 18 as part of the World Cleanup in Jelgava.
In anticipation of the World Cleanup, the organisers of the Lielā Talka (Big Cleanup) are calling to start preparing for the big world event, which will unite 180 countries, to take responsibility for maintaining their urban environment and changing their daily habits. During the discussion “Green and Healthy Urban Environment” chaired by Aiva Rozenberga and Adviser to the President and President of the Latvian Medical Association Ilze Aizsilniece, its participants – President of Latvia Egils Levits, Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Artūrs Toms Plešs, Chairman of Jelgava City Council Andris Rāviņš, JSC Latvijas valsts meži Head of Communication Tomass Kotovičs, Mežpils alus Marketing Manager Evita Dadzīte and Lielā Talka representative in Greece Dzintra Liepa discussed ways to promote a greener and healthier daily life in their homes and cities. The event was opened with a lecture by architect and anthropologist Matiss Šteinerts “Society’s right to change by changing the environment around it”, followed by a lecture by President of the Latvian Medical Association Ilze Aizsilniece “Thoughts, emotions, integrity”.
“This year, as part of the World Cleanup, we are focusing on creating a green and healthy urban environment. Therefore, no matter how big the city we live in is, it is especially important to be aware of our right to make it better; the right, first and foremost, to make our life happier, healthier and greener with each subsequent Tree of Happiness planted. We can change our surroundings – all together and individually!” – Vita Jaunzeme, organiser of the World Cleanup in Latvia and leader of Lielā Talka, said.
During the solemn ceremony, President Egils Levits presented an oak tree seedling to Agnija Jansone, Chair of the Latvian Scout and Guide Central Organisation, asking it to be planted at the opening of the Happiness Tree Park in Jelgava on 18 September. President of Latvia Egils Levits emphasised: “Latvia has brought a wonderful idea to the World Cleanup Movement – to create Happiness Tree Parks. Trees of Happiness show what the world should be like – green, not only in terms of colour, but also in social terms, shaping our future together. I congratulate all people of Jelgava with the fact that the second Happiness Tree Park will be laid out there and I’d want you, when you visit it, to always remember the idea that we need to live in a green world. Since I will be on my way to the UN General Assembly on the day of the Cleanup, where I will talk about global climate issues, I ask the Chair of the Latvian Scout and Guide Central Organisation Agnija Jansone to plant this Happiness Tree in Jelgava, because Scouts and Guides are those youth organisations in Latvia, who set an example for how our youngsters, how our people should participate in civil society.”
Agnija Jansone, receiving the oak seedling, expressed her gladness that she would be able to plant this Happiness Tree in her hometown of Jelgava “as a symbol of daily volunteer work, working with children for the benefit of Latvia every day.”
Minister of Environmental Protection and Regional Development Artūrs Toms Plešs, in turn, said: “Currently, the greenhouse gas pollution caused by cities makes up about 80% of the total amount of emissions. Therefore joint efforts should be made to reduce this high figure. Greening the urban environment and planting trees is one of the most effective ways to reduce emissions and ensure long-term air quality. And it also includes a strategic plan to provide a favourable environment for the population, given that the weather in Latvia is becoming increasingly extreme. For example, trees in the urban environment provide shade in the summer heat and help to divert rainwater more successfully during heavy rains, so any new plant, any such action is a big step towards creating a greener and more human-friendly future.”
During the discussion, Tomass Kotovičs, Head of the Communication Department of JSC Latvijas valsts meži, emphasised that both the forest area and the amount of wood in Latvia continue to grow, and more forests are being planted. Speaking about the urban environment, T. Kotovičs called “not only to plant new parks, but also to renovate old ones. When wood gets old, it becomes dangerous and it is important to plant new trees instead of dangerous old ones, which will also be able to sequester carbon much faster and promote healthier and cleaner air in the city without causing dangerous situations. That is why I invite every family to plant their own Tree of Happiness and to nurture it for future generations.”
The second Happiness Tree Park will be opened in Jelgava on September 18. Andris Rāviņš, Chairman of the City Council, said in an online discussion that “creating and renovating parks in the city has two goals – reducing CO2 emissions and creating an urban environment that would promote wellness and well-being. We are happy to continue the tradition of Happiness Tree Parks and to open the Happiness Tree Park on Pasta Island in Jelgava as part of this year’s World Cleanup. Let the gorgeous city and Latvia be formed!”
Evita Dadzīte, Marketing Manager of Mežpils alus, noted that Lielā Talka is a great platform for everyone to have a hand in restoring nature and the environment. “As entrepreneurs, we need to be a driving force that both promotes the introduction of the circular economy in our business and educates our employees about its principles, promoting the formation of a common public opinion.”
Emphasising the cross-border impact of the Big Cleanup movement and the active involvement of the diaspora, Dzintra Liepa, a representative of Lielā Talka in Greece, shared in the discussion her experience in organising clean-ups and the project Trīs minūtes mīlestības videi (Three Minutes for Love), reminding what the diaspora can do to educate and pass on clean-up skills.
Planting Trees of Happiness as a form of Latvia’s participation in the World Cleanup has been chosen because trees play an important role in maintaining the planet’s climate balance and ensuring healthy living conditions. And Latvia with its old tree-maintenance traditions shows an example that a tree can not only be planted, but caring for it can become a symbol of sustainability and a good life for each individual, for each family and for society as a whole.
Tree of Happiness map, apply for participation here: https://talkas.lv/laimes-koki/
See you at the World Cleanup on September 18! All together and each individually!
Photo: Ilmārs Znotiņš/Presidential Chancellery