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UNEP and Economic Cooperation Organisation sign agreement

Clean energy, eco-tourism, environmental law and education targeted

Tehran, Bangkok, August 18, 2004 – The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO) headquartered in Tehran have agreed to cooperate for strengthening environmental management in the ECO region.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer and ECO Secretary General Askhat Orazbay signed a Memorandum of Understanding at the ECO Secretariat offices in Tehran today.

The agreement identifies the potential for joint activities to increase the use of renewable energy, through UNEP’s Solar and Wind Energy Resource Assessment project, to strengthen environmental law making, enhance environmental education and training programmes, catalyse more eco-friendly tourism development and improve environmental monitoring and assessment.

“Over the past decade we have seen a growth and strengthening of inter-governmental organizations in response to regional needs,” said Mr Toepfer. “This trend provides a tremendous opportunity to give effect to the global goals made at forums such as the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg.”

ECO is an inter-governmental regional organization, established by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey, and now embracing also Afghanistan, Azerbaijan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Uzbekistan. The organisation’s purpose is to promote the socio-economic development of member states, including through regional cooperation in the field of environment, following adoption of an ECO Ministerial Declaration on Environment in 2002.

The Memorandum of Understanding also identifies the potential for strengthened links between the scientific community and policy makers, and for further development of the Regional Environmental Action Plan for Central Asia, developed by UNEP and the Central Asian governments recently.

Late last year UNEP assisted countries of the region to negotiate and agree a Framework Convention for the Protection of the Caspian Sea. In March it signed a Memorandum of Understanding for Environmental Cooperation with the Department of the Environment of the Islamic Republic of Iran.

Mr Toepfer has been in Tehran for a meeting of the Asia-Pacific Forum for Environment and Development, a high-level regional ‘think-tank’, chaired by former-Japanese Prime Minister Ryutaro Yoshimoto.

Mr Toepfer told the Forum that to cope with a rapidly growing urban middle class in Asia, expected to reach 600 million within a decade, the concepts of “sustainable consumption” and “the life-cycle economy”- being discussed by policy makers in China and Japan - needed to be advocated more strongly.

“Once new infrastructure is built it is going to last for 100 years. The newly affluent in Asia must have access to zero-emission housing, to hybrid or fuel cell cars and/or clean public transport systems, and to eco-friendly residential and commercial suburbs,” Mr Toepfer said.

He told the forum that while the Millennium Development Goals and the overarching need for poverty reduction would continue to be the major challenge for the Asia-Pacific region, sub-regional institutions and their targeted initiatives had an important part to play in making the goal of environmental sustainability real and achievable.

For more information:

Eric Falt, Spokesperson/Director of UNEP's Division of Communications and Public Information, on Tel: 254 20 623292, Mobile: 254 (0) 733 682656, E-mail: eric.falt@unep.org or Tim Higham, Regional Information Officer, UNEP, Bangkok, on Tel +66 2 288 2127, Mobile +66 9 1283803, E-mail higham@un.org.

UNEP ROAP News Release 2004/ 13




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Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO)
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