Forum for Environment & Development Launches Programmes at UNEP Governing Council
Nairobi, February 7, 2007—Developing a common market for environmentally-friendly technologies and products is among the aims of a new initiative called the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) whose forward-looking work programme was announced today.
Other targets include an annual progress report, detailing how countries in the Arab world are performing in respect to international sustainable development treaties and agreements ranging from the phase out of ozone depleting chemicals to achieving the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs).
The AFED, details of which were discussed at a press conference at the 24th Session of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum, brings together civil society and the private sector to solve local and global environmental concerns.
It has the backing of the key Arab Ministers of Environment and officials of the League of Arab States and also includes media, scientists, academics and experts as core members, and government agencies as observers.
Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary and UNEP Executive Director, said: “In common with the rest of the globe, the Arab world and the region of West Asia is facing the opportunities and risks of globalization. The AFED is a welcome initiative that lays down steps towards achieving sustainable development in a globalized world including through the empowerment of civil society and the consumer.”
“UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook Year Book 2007, launched here this week, highlights some of the challenges in the region from safe management of chemicals, conservation of forests, woodlands and water supplies to the environmental impacts of armed conflict. The report also compliments the region for its achievements not least in the reduction of ozone damaging chemicals. I am hopeful that the AFED will take these and many other achievements forward,” he added.
This has been the first global public proclamation of AFED, after it gained the status of a regional non-governmental organization (NGO), with associated immunities as an international NGO, based in Beirut.
Prince Turki bin Nasser, Chairman of the Board of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE), commended the unique structure of AFED which allows true partnership between the civil society and governments.
He invited AFED to participate in the activities of CAMRE, and said he was confident “it will provide strong contribution to the Arab endeavors towards achieving sustainable development with one of its key outputs being the annual report on the State of Arab Environment (SAE), evaluating the progress towards the realization of sustainable development goals and measuring the contribution of Arab countries to global environmental endeavors”.
Alongside the report, AFED is launching special programmes covering Corporate Environmental Responsibility (CER), including Cleaner Production initiatives: Environmental Awareness and Communication, in cooperation with regional media leaders; Environmental Education; Environmental Legislation; Environmental Governance; Water Resources Management; Combating Desertification; Waste Management.
AFED’s Secretary General, Najib Saab, said he was delighted to be launching the work programme from UNEP’s headquarters as it was “underlining continuity of cooperation with UNEP that started at the regional level with its West Asia office.”
“In order that the Arab countries may occupy a decent position in the new world market, we hope that this forum will succeed in encouraging Arab businessmen and economic institutions to collaborate in the direction of opening an Arab common market for products which are friendly to the environment as well as in the direction of harmonizing environmental measures.”
Mr Saab said the Forum fosters the creation of links among Arab chambers of commerce and industry and scientific research centres and educational institutions in the Arab world, aiming at the development of joint environmental programmes.
Notes to Editors
Arab Forum for Environment & Development is governed by a Board of Trustees, representing environmental experts alongside business, media and civil society leaders. AFED’s funding comes from: Membership fees, contributions to AFED’s Trust Fund, sponsorship of programmes by corporate partners and organizations, and income from the Forum’s activities and services.
Founding members, representing all regions of the Arab countries, have elected the first Executive Board comprising: Dr. Mostapha Kamal Tolba, President (former Executive Director of UNEP); Dr. Adnan Badran, Vice-President (Former Prime Minister of Jordan and President of the Arab Academy of Science); Dr. Abdelrahman Al-Awadi, Vice-President (Executive Secretary of the Regional Organization for the Protection of Marine Environment-ROPME and former Minister of Health); Maroun Semaan, Financial Affairs Officer (Executive Director of PETROFAC International); Najib Saab, Secretary General (Publisher and Editor-in-Chief of Environment & Development magazine).
Detailed information can be accessed through AFED website: www.afedonline.org
For more information please contact: Najib Saab. Tel: +254 728 876 006 (5-9 February); Office Tel: +961 1321 800; E-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org
UNEP News Release 2007/07