June 21, 2012

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By Mera McGrew

Heads of state and environment ministers are meeting behind closed doors over the next few days at the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) to create a document that will renew political commitment to sustainable development and identify emerging global challenges. While leaders decide on the final wording of the agreement text, the public has begun to take action and demand the future they want for the world’s ocean.

At a press conference at the Rio Earth Summit hosted by Sir Richard Branson, actress Lucy Lawless and Kumi Naidoo, the International Executive Director of Greenpeace announced a campaign to save the Arctic.

The initial focus of the campaign will be to push for a UN resolution, within the official text, that would establish a global sanctuary around the Arctic that would ban oil drilling and unsustainable fishing in Arctic waters.

“The Arctic is coming under assault and needs people from around the world to stand up and demand action to protect it,” said Kumi Naidoo. “A ban on offshore oil drilling and unsustainable fishing would be a huge victory.”

A-list celebrities, environmentalists, and business leaders have all joined the campaign and signed the Arctic Scroll to show their support. Puma chairman Jochen Zeits told The Guardian that he signed the Arctic Scroll and joined the campaigned. He explained, “As a private individual and businessman, this campaign is fundamental. I abhor that businesses want to use and destroy the environment and use the effects of such as an opportunity for more business and thus more destruction.”

Penelope Cruz, Robert Redford, Paul McCartney and a host of other celebrities were among the first to join the campaign and add their names to the Arctic Scroll. “ The Arctic is one of the most beautiful and last untouched regions on our planet, but now it’s under threat,” said Paul McCartney. “At some time, in some place, we need to take a stand. I believe that time is now and that place is the Arctic.”

Over 19,000 have already added their names in support of protecting the Arctic. Once the Arctic Scroll has accumulated one million names, Greenpeace will embark on an expedition to plant the scroll two and a half miles below the ice on the seabed at the North Pole.  Greenpeace says that the scroll will represent a “Flag for the Future on the bottom of the ocean at the top of t the world.” 

Anyone interested in adding their name to the Arctic Scroll can do so by visiting www.SaveTheArctic.org.

Top photo by Alexandra Sangmeister.

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