Every day is Earth Day

April 22, World Earth Day is here again, reminding us that we have responsibilities beyond our own houses. It is this the day when we should express our special gratitude to our Planet Earth, which supports all forms of life.

It became a tradition now that on the Earth Day many citizens, children, youngsters and elders dedicate some of their time to plant a tree, clean up a public area, inaugurate a garden or  participate in events designed to raise citizen s awareness on the environmental issues.

40 years have already passed since the first day the Earth Day was celebrated. On 22 April 1970, 20 million people joined in one of the largest public manifestations in history, with a view of giving voice to their concern about the environmental situation at the time, and to show their support in Earth defense.

Since that time, Earth Day challenges us to take seriously our job as guardians of the natural environment. It inspires us to think beyond our survival - to act on behalf of this planet that we share together with all of its other residents. If Earth Day makes us think on how to make to make it possible to breathe clean air and drink unpolluted water or live in a save environment,
then it has fulfilled its mission. If Earth Day gets up to worry about the environmental protection, nature and biodiversity, usage of natural resources then it has served its goal.

This year Earth Day in Tirana, Albania was celebrated in a small street covered in red slabs with the name of the Albanian hero -Ismail Qamali-, with a collaboration of  EDEN Cemter, Municipality of Tirana, Embassy of Kingdom of Netherlands and UNICEF under the slogan -Take care of me! – Every day is Earth Day-.

The event was opened by the children of the elementary schools who made a parade with recycled materials that were prepared by them. Other pupils walked in parades while exposing the posters with messages and logo awareness, as well as parades with textile bags of painted by the children themselves.

In this 40th year celebration of the Earth Day children promoted positive attitudes toward environmental protection and enhanced the future challenges for each of us. Part of the activity was also showing the handmade artworks that the children of different schools of Tirana did  in the framework of the project CLEEN as well as the promotional materials for waste reduction within the campaign, - Act Now! -
 Increasing individual responsibility is the key to move from awareness toward action. This will bring man closer and in balance with nature. Regardless the role we have in the society: citizen or consumer, producer or promoter, court decision, we all have a common role to play

In conclusion, it should be recalled that the protection of the environment is a process and not an end. Self-amusement should never be an option valuable when dealing with the protection of the basic elements of our lives. So we have to act now! There is not time to wait no longer, each day spent is a day lost on the aim of reaching the natural balance.

New billions for the EBRD must lead to environmentally and socially 'useful' banking, say civil society groups

With the support of 45 civil society organisations from around the world, CEE Bankwatch Network today presented the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) with a set of proposals that seek to modify the development bank's lending practices to bring about real social and environmental improvements in central and eastern Europe. [1]

The EBRD is currently engaged in a fourth review of its capital resources, and for the 2010-2015 period it is requesting a 50 percent capital increase - an extra EUR 10 billion - from shareholder governments. [2]

Pippa Gallop, interim EBRD co-ordinator of Bankwatch, said: “This level of capital increase request from the EBRD suggests that the bank is in buoyant, expectant mood following its response to the economic crisis, in which it has been credited with saving central and eastern Europe’s banking systems from collapse by lending them billions of euros. However, the short-term apparent success of these emergency transfusions should not divert attention from the long-term questions now surrounding the whole concept of the transition to market economy promoted by the EBRD.

“The crisis has shown the bankruptcy of the idea that promoting the private sector is an end in itself. The EBRD needs to focus on concrete social and environmental goals that will improve people's wellbeing instead of trying to bend everything to fit market criteria.”

Piotr Trzaskowski, Bankwatch’s Energy and climate co-ordinator, said: “The EBRD should be looking to supercharge the transition to a low-carbon economy in the region. The surface of this enormous challenge is barely being scratched in most of the EBRD countries. The EBRD has increased its energy efficiency lending, but can still do more. It lends relatively little for renewables and continues to finance fossil fuel projects, motorways and aviation expansion, thus locking transport and energy systems into unsustainable patterns for decades to come.”

Mark Fodor, Bankwatch's Executive director, said: “The economic crisis has also highlighted the need for the EBRD’s financial intermediary lending to be tightened up to stop socially harmful practices such as foreign currency consumer lending. Around 40 percent of the EBRD’s portfolio currently goes through intermediaries, but the bank does not disclose the final beneficiaries. The public needs to have much more information on where its money is going and what it is being used for.

“The ongoing economic crisis has focused minds on 'socially useless' banking. For a public development bank like the EBRD to be demanding a big new capital injection, it's got to be committing to a much more ambitious social and environmental agenda. Our proposals to the EBRD are too important to fail.”

For more information

Pippa Gallop
CEE Bankwatch Network interim EBRD co-ordinator
pippa.gallop AT bankwatch.org
+385 99 755 9787 (Croatia)

Notes for editors:

1. The proposals to the EBRD, endorsed by 45 civil society organisations, are available in pdf here.

2. A decision on any EBRD capital increase is expected be approved in May 2010 when the EBRD holds its annual meeting in Zagreb; an informal decision could be made by shareholding governments some time before this. For a list of EBRD shareholder governments, see .