International Events
International Years proclaimed by the United Nations General Assembly in 2008The UN has been designating International years since 1959.The designated ‘year’ draws attention to major issues andencourages international action to address concerns that haveglobal importance and ramifications. 2008 has been declaredas the international year for Potato; Sanitation; Languagesand Planet Earth.

2008 International Year of Sanitation
The UN General Assembly declared 2008 as the International Year of Sanitation (IYS) to put spotlight on Sanitation. The goal is to raise awareness and to accelerate progress towards the
Millennium Development Goal (MDG) target to reduce by half the proportion of the 2,6 billion people without access to basic sanitation by 2015. IYS focuses on five key messages
• Sanitation is vital for human health
• Sanitation generates economic benefits
• Sanitation contributes to dignity and social development
• Sanitation protects the environment
• Improving sanitation is achievable

The United Nations Department of Economic and Social Affairs (UNDESA) is the lead coordinating body for IYS.

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2008 International Year of Planet Earth
The International Year runs from January 2007 to December 2009, the central year of the triennium (2008) having been proclaimed by the UN General Assembly as the UN Year. The International
Year of Planet Earth aims to capture people’s imagination with exciting knowledge about our planet, and to see that the knowledge is used to make the Earth a safer, healthier and
wealthier place for all. The Year’s research themes are:
• Groundwater: reservoir for a thirsty planet?
• Hazards: minimizing risk, maximizing awareness
• Earth and Health: building a safer environment
• Climate change: the ‘stone tape’
• Resources: sustainable power for sustainable development
• Megacities: going deeper, building safer
• Deep Earth: from crust to core
• Ocean: abyss of time
• Soil: Earth’s living skin
• Earth and Life: origins of diversity

The International Year of Planet Earth is a joint initiative by UNESCO and the International Union of Geological Sciences (IUGS).

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2008 International Year of Languages
On 16 May 2007 General Assembly proclaimed 2008 International Year of Languages, in an effort to promote unity in diversity, global understanding. IYL intends to address issues of linguistic
diversity (in the context of cultural diversity), respect for all languages, and multilingualism. United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO) is the lead agency
for the Year. To celebrate the International Year of Languages, UNESCO invites governments, United Nations organizations, civil society organizations, educational institutions, professional
associations and all other stakeholders to increase their own activities to promote and protect all languages, particularly endangered languages, in all individual and collective contexts.

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2008 International Year of Potato
Recognizing the need to focus world attention on the role that the potato can play in providing food security and eradicating poverty, and in achieving internationally agreed development goals, including the MDGs, the United Nations General Assembly in December 2005, declared 2008 as the International Year of the Potato. Potato is the world’s No 4 food crop, after maize, wheat
and rice. The International Year of the Potato aims at raising global awareness of the potato’s key role in agriculture, the economy and world food security.
The potato has its origin in the Andes about 8000 years ago, where it was domesticated from wild plants near Lake Titicana - high in the Andes Mountains. They come in a very wide range of colours, shapes and sizes. The International Potato Centre in Peru has identified about 4300 different varieties of potato grown in the Andes. The top potato growers in the world in 2007 were:
1. China (72 million tonnes)
2. Russian Federation (37 million tonnes)
3. India (26 million tonne)
4. United States (20 million tonnes),
5. Ukraine (19 million tonnes)
6. Poland (12 million tonnes)
7. Germany (11 million tonnes)

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