ROME, June 5 (Xinhua) -- Italy celebrated the World Environment Day on Wednesday offering free entry to historical heritage sites, and through an array of awareness events.
Local initiatives were all accompanied by campaigns on the responsible use of water and on strategies for air pollution reduction, the latter being the specific theme of the 2019 global event.
This year, the global host of the Day -- set up by the United Nations and celebrated since 1970s -- is China, recently praised by UN Environment officials for its "tremendous leadership in tackling air pollution domestically."
In the Italian capital, the Archaeological Park of the Colosseum opened its doors freely to visitors, launching among them a "free water" campaign to encourage them to take advantage of the many public fountains within the historical site and across the city.
This was meant to gradually discourage the consumption of plastic bottled water in the country.
Italy is in fact one of the world's largest consumers of plastic water bottles -- despite its large disposal of clean tap water -- and was among the top five consumers in the European Union in 2017, according to estimates by the European Federation of Bottled Waters (EFBW).
"The Archaeological Park of the Colosseum -- besides being a unique historical heritage in the world -- is a green lung of the (Rome) urban center, and a precious asset from the point of view of landscape and environment," Park director Alfonsina Russo said in a statement.
"Therefore, we want to be at the forefront of the fight against air pollution and waste of resources."
Also in the Italian capital, a special performance was set up at the National Gallery of Modern Art to denounce the environmental damages brought about by mafia organizations illegally disposing of toxic waste across Italy, and especially in the southern regions.
In central Imola city, local authorities summoned pupils from all lower and upper secondary schools for a day-long cleaning activity on river beds and parks, and similar initiatives, involving either the youth or the overall local population, were taken by several other municipalities.
In northwest Turin, special free screenings were offered to those attending the closing day of Cinemambiente, an annual festival devoted to Italian and international environmental films.
This year's edition included some 140 movies and documentaries both in and out official competition, all of which addressing various aspect of environment protection and climate change.
In the same city on Tuesday -- specifically on the eve of the World Environment Day -- the Italian Presidency of the Council signed a formal protocol to kick off a national "Action Plan for air quality improvement" in cooperation with the Italian regions and with the ministries of environment, economy, economic development, transports, health, and agriculture.
Turin was not chosen randomly as place to host such event, since it lies in the middle of northern Padan Plain -- or Po Valley -- which is one of Italy's most air-polluted areas.
The national action plan would stretch over a two-year period for now, counting on a budget worth 400 million euros (449 million U.S. dollars), according to deputy economy minister Laura Castelli.