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IIFA brand ambassador, Mr. Amitabh Bachchan lends his voice to UNEP Billion Tree Campaign

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Bangkok, May 02, 2008

The International Indian Film Academy (IIFA) Brand Ambassador, Amitabh Bachchan, today planted a tree at a tree planting ceremony jointly organized by UNEP, UNESCAP, and the Indian Embassy with IIFA in the premises of the UN building in Bangkok. This is the first time that Mr. Bachchan, visited the UN premises. He was joined by Noeleen Heyzer, UN Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of the Economic and Social Commission for Asia and the Pacific, and HE, Ms Latha Reddy, the Indian Ambassador to Thailand.

The tree planting ceremony was held in support of the UNEP Billion Tree Campaign which took off in January 2007. Since then, nearly 3.46 billion trees have been pledged and 1.99 billion trees have been planted around the globe.

“All of us can play a role in helping our planet and doing our part for the earth and often, this involves simple actions that each of us can take. IIFA has committed itself to support efforts, to green the globe. UNEP’s Billion Tree Campaign, which is set to meet its 2 billion mark soon, is testimony to the tenacity and will of people to do their part. I encourage you to join the millions who helped to make this small ‘acorn’ into a tree of hope.” said Mr. Bachchan.

Speaking on this occasion, Mr. Sabbas Joseph, Director of Wizcraft said, “Global warming and climate change will affect the poorest of the poor and the farmers in our agrarian economies, worst of all. IIFA’s commitment to sustainable development is expressed in its support for the Green Globe Foundation, the UNEP and other credible efforts across the globe.”

The campaign is backed by Nobel Peace Prize Laureate, Wangari Maathai and His Serene Highness Albert II, Sovereign Prince of Monaco. It encourages all sectors of society – from concerned citizen to philanthropic corporations – to pledge and plant trees. Along with a focus on tree planting and deforestation, the campaign also highlights the importance of voluntary collective action to address issues such as climate change, ozone layer protection and the Montreal Protocol, air quality and integrated water management, among others.

“The Billion Tree Campaign is a call to action, to the small steps that we all can take as nations, organizations and individuals, to help our planet. With increasing evidence of how fragile the earth is in the wake of global warming, these steps and actions are critical. IIFA last year lent their voice to this important issue, and I’m happy to see that they are continuing in this effort and also, for lending their support to this campaign,” added Hiroshi Nishimiya, Deputy Director, UNEP Regional Office for Asia and the Pacific.

“A tree is a symbol of stability and strength as well as renewal. In planting a tree we make a commitment to a better future for all of us,” said HE, Ms Latha Reddy, the Indian Ambassador to Thailand.

In her remarks ESCAP Executive Secretary Noeleen Heyzer said it was an appropriate symbol that the 64th ESCAP annual session, the focus of which was energy security and renewable energy, ended today with the planting of a tree as “Trees are a symbol of the environment, of hope and of renewal.”

The tree planting took place following the announcement of the IIFA Weekend and Awards, of which Mr. Bachchan is Brand Ambassador, which will take place in Bangkok from 6-8 June 2008.

The IIFA Weekend and Awards is an annual event which has been held since 2000 to celebrate the achievements of Indian cinema on a global platform. The first IIFA Awards ceremony was held at the Millennium Dome, United Kingdom. Since then, the Award ceremony has been organized in numerous cities which include Johannesburg, Singapore, Amsterdam, Dubai and more. The event brings together the Indian cinema’s biggest celebrities and fans and reaches some 500 million people worldwide.

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Ruchika Vyas

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