The Mission Green Earth: Stand Up and Take Action 2008’ campaign concluded late yesterday, with one in 11 people of Dubai and a total of 137,711 people across the UAE confirming participation in the Stand Up challenge so far. The counting is still on and the final number of participants will be announced later this week, as participants are still in the process of submitting their reporting forms and photos.

>> VIDEO: Click here to download the video featuring some of the beautiful photos sent by the UAE participants, as part of the reporting process (MPEG format).

The thousands of people who already reported their participation in the Stand Up include 68,039 students, 45,262 employees of companies and organizations, 5,170 members of social clubs, and 17,833 other people who joint Stand Up sessions in malls, super markets and in individual capacity.

Dubai reported the largest participation so far, with 99,018 people standing up for a greener future. 1,868 people stood up in Sharjah, 6,679 in Abu Dhabi, 1,880 in Al Ain and 497 in Fujairah.

The participants at the Stand Ups took solemn pledge to pursue sustainable living and remind their government of its commitment to achieve the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) by formulating sustainable development policies for a greener future and further social responsibility.

>> PLEDGE: Click here to download the pledge in English.Â

In a concluding ceremony attended by a host of dignitaries including the UAE Minister of Environment and Water, His Excellency Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad, the campaign organisers said the success of the ‘Mission Green Earth: Stand Up & Take Action’ brought to light the deep and growing concern UAE residents from all walks of life share in protecting the environment and leading a more responsible and sustainable life.

In a recorded message at the ceremony, UN Messenger of Peace HRH Princess Haya Bint Al Hussein, Wife of HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE, Ruler of Dubai, who is the patron of the campaign, said: “This is not just another green campaign; this is about saving and enhancing human lives because we know that those who will be hardest hit by climate change will be those who are already the most vulnerable in our societies. For their sakes environmental sustainability should be central to our decisions and lifestyles, not just an afterthought.”

“We want the UAE to benefit from our attention to sustainability but let’s also be responsible world citizens because the reality is that while we take life’s perks for granted, many in our world are suffering. We enjoy abundant water but in other parts of the Drylands; people like us are on the brink of fighting for water. We enjoy the energy to power air-conditioned surroundings at work, home and leisure places but in some places just providing the energy to provide light and clean fire would provide hope for the future,” she added.

The culminating three days of the campaign – October 17, 18 and 19, 2008 – saw a number of group Stand Up sessions. Among the participants, governmental bodies including ministries and municipalities of different emirates, humanitarian organisations, leading corporations, schools and universities, hospitals, supermarkets and retail outlets, joint thousands of families and private initiatives in this symbolic movement against poverty and inequality, with a focus this year on environmental sustainability. The Mission Green Earth campaign has been organised by International Association for human Values (IAHV) and Art of Living (AOL) with the support of UNDP, UNEP, the International Humanitarian City (IHC) and Barclays Bank PLC.

Commenting on the campaign and the significance of MDGs, Dr. Khaled Alloush, UN Resident Coordinator, said: “The Stand Up and Take Action Campaign this year is another catalyst act of the United Nations towards achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). This year’s main focus on the promotion of MDG 7: ensuring environmental sustainability reinforces the notion that reducing poverty and achieving sustained development must be done in conjunction with a healthy planet. The Millennium Development Goals are our roadmap to promoting human freedom and to recognizing that environmental sustainability is part of global economic and social well-being.”

Campaign organisers said the response to the campaign was across the board. The support from governmental institutions was evident from the participation of the Ministry of Environment, municipalities of Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and a host of others. A number of corporate houses also undertook Stand Up sessions including ETA Ascon, EMKE Group of Abu Dhabi, Al Fara’a Group, BMW, Wafi Group, Jashanmal and Jumbo.

Hospitals which will take part in the event include CEDARS – Jebel Ali International Hospital, Mafreq Hospital, Abu Dhabi, Welcare Hospitals and Zulekha Hospitals while financial institutions include Barclays Bank, Julius Baer (Middle East), Commercial Bank of Dubai, Mashreq Bank and RBS.

Commenting on the participation of Barclays Bank PLC as the lead sponsor of the event, Mr. Ahmed Khan Chief Executive Emerging markets Global Retail and Commercial Banking, Barclays Bank Plc, said “Environmental sustainability and in particular addressing environmental landscaping in the UAE has been identified as one of Barclays key corporate responsibility objectives. This objective is perfectly complimented by our involvement with Mission Green Earth: Stand Up and Take Action campaign. We are honoured to be part of this wave of change and I am confident that our efforts will have sustainable effects for generations to come. However our support does not end tonight, on the contrary it has just gained momentum.”

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Notes to the Editors:

> ONE CAMPAIGN – TWO CHALLENGES

This year’s campaign aims to mobilise and engage UAE residents, collectively and individually, in support of environmental sustainability and sustainable living through two challenges.

Stand Up – All over the country, residents will Stand Up in their homes, communities, schools and colleges, organisations and institutions and read a pledge in support of the Millennium Development Goals with a focus on environmental sustainability. The Stand Up will be reported along with a photograph to be added to the global count for the Guinness Book Record for the largest number of people standing up for a cause.

Take Action – Participants will take action through actively committing to conserve energy and water and reduce waste. They will also be motivated to plant trees and plants that require lesser of the earth’s natural resources, including valuable water, for their survival and maintenance.

To learn more about MISSION GREEN EARTH and participate in the ongoing PLANT A TREE challenge, go to www.missiongreenearth.ae.

> BACKGROUND:

The Mission Green Earth campaign has its roots in the United Nations Millennium Goals (MDGs). In September 2000, 189 Heads of Nations came together to commit to work together to end poverty and to build a safer, more prosperous and equitable world for all by 2015 at the United Nations Millennium Summit, which gave birth to the eight Millennium Development Goals (MDGs). Mission Green Earth aligns with MDG No. 7 in support of environmental sustainability.

The Millennium Development Goals are supported and reinforced by the United Nations Millennium Campaign (UNMC). Launched in 2002, the UNMC is a U.N. initiative to support and encourage people’s involvement and actions to realise the eight MDG’s and hold their government accountable for the millennium promise. The “Stand up & Speak Out” challenge was launched in 2006. In 2007, 43.7 million people around the world and 98,000 in UAE people stood up to end extreme poverty and hunger.

Photographers: Proud little challengers at the Dubai English Speaking School (DESS).