The United Nations Environmental Programme announced that Pittsburgh would host next year’s World Environment Day yesterday at the Children’s Museum.

Bayer Corporation, which works with the United Nations Environmental Programme on a regular basis and has been involved in previous World Environment Day celebrations, spearheaded the effort to bring the celebration to Pittsburgh this year.

It also asked the museum to host yesterday’s press conference.

Bryan Iams, a spokesperson for Bayer, said that after the G-20 Summit in September, Bayer saw World Environment Day as another opportunity to show off Pittsburgh’s transformation from an industrial powerhouse to an urban model for green programs.

“We’re hoping that it really keeps the spotlight shining brightly on Pittsburgh,” Iams said.

On the heels of receiving the most prestigious award available to a museum, and in light of its LEED certification and other environmental programs, the Children’s Museum was the perfect place to announce Pittsburgh as the host of the world’s premier environment awareness day, said museum spokesperson Bill Schlageter.

In 2010 the UNEP will hold events and activities to bridge Earth Day in April to World Environment Day in June.

Iams said that a group met yesterday after the press conference to begin planning activities and celebrations. Planners hope these events will drive visitors to the Pittsburgh area as well as get locals involved in environmental stewardship.

Although Earth Day is the most recognized environmental awareness day in the United States, Iams said that in other regions like Asia and Africa, World Environment Day has more recognition. Part of UNEP’s desire to hold these celebrations in the United States is to expand awareness here.

Bayer chose the Children’s Museum as the location for the announcement for two reasons, Iams said.

“A big mission of [World Environment Day] is to educate children on all aspects of environmental stewardship,” said Iams, who mentioned the museum’s success in that demographic.

Iams added that last year in Omaha, Bayer had hosted the International Children’s Painting Competition at the Children’s Museum there, and that Bayer planned once again to work with the Pittsburgh Children’s Museum during this year’s WED celebrations.

The National Medal for Museum and Library Service, awarded to the Children’s Museum in early October, had nothing to do with Bayer’s decision, but Iams said it “certainly validated it.”