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 GC Today - 23 February 2011

Side Event

Environmental Emergencies

A special event on Environmental Emergencies hosted by Switzerland took place on the third day of  UNEP's GC26/GMEF. The event had two objectives:

  • to share knowledge gained from national experiences regarding the important role that the international community plays in responding to environmental emergencies

  • to highlight challenges facing the current international system for responding to environmental emergencies, as well as opportunities for addressing those challenges. 

The high-level panel consisted of:

  • Ambassador Toni Frisch, Deputy Director, Swiss Development Cooperation, and Chair of the International Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies,

  • H.E. Dr. Zoltan Illes, Secretary of State for Environment, Budapest,

  • H.E. Muhammad Naeem Khawaja, Deputy Minister of Environment, Pakistan,

  • Mr. Sha Zukang, Under Secretary General for the UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs, and the Secretary General for the UN Conference on Environment and Development,

  • Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Director UNEP Division for environmental policy implementation,

  • Margarita Astralaga, Regional Director of UNEP’s Office for Latin America and the Caribbean,

  • Vladimir Sakharov, Deputy Chief of Emergency Services Branch of OCHA and Chief of the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit.

An interesting discussion took place, with many heads of delegations attending the UNEP GC26/GMEF, focusing on gaps and opportunities to strengthen the international response system to environmental emergencies. Ideas were generated for how to improve response to environmental emergencies based on experiences from both Hungary and Pakistan, and others.