WASHINGTON, D.C. /eNewsChannels/ — The United States is proud to join with the international community to mark June 5 as World Environment Day, as we have since 1973. And I note with pleasure the selection of Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, as North American Host City, reaffirming its leadership in regional innovation and in the transformation to a greener economy.

This year’s commemoration is more important than ever as we face unprecedented environmental challenges that threaten our planet’s natural resources and biodiversity.

Today, the United States is learning firsthand how fragile our ecosystems are and how quickly a treasured landscape can become endangered. As President Obama recently stated, protecting the earth’s biodiversity, be it in the Gulf of Mexico or elsewhere, is a responsibility all of us share.

The urgency and scope of our shared responsibility is reflected in this year’s theme, “Many species, one planet, one future.”

Its is also reflected in the commitment of the United States to building global partnerships to preserve the earth’s rich biodiversity. From protecting the forests in the Congo Basin in central Africa to preserving the coral reefs in Southeast Asia, we are working together to meet our shared challenges. We are strengthening partnerships such as the Association of Southeast Asian Nations Wildlife Enforcement Network (ASEAN-WEN) and working to build similar networks in Central America and South Asia.

While we have learned a great deal about environmental conservation since the first World Environment Day 38 years ago, there is much more for us to learn and do. Let us individually and collectively redouble our efforts to protect the environment, for the benefit of generations to come.