The largest ever gathering of environment ministers will take place in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) next week for forward-looking discussions on how best to deliver sustainable energy and more environmentally-friendly tourism.
They will be attending the 9th Special Session of the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum.
Nearly 130 environment ministers and close to 160 countries have so far agreed to participate, along with the presidents of the Gambia and Switzerland.
Klaus Toepfer, Executive Director of UNEP, said: “There is every sign that we are seeing a renaissance in the commitment to global environmental issues. This is being driven partly by the soaring demand and price for fossil fuels”.
“It is also being fueled by a growing recognition, especially by rapidly developing countries that environmental degradation cannot continue. That it is now the bottleneck to future economic development. That a healthy environment has a lot to do with fighting poverty and delivering a stable and more peaceful world,” he added.
“This is underlined by the large participation of environment ministers, along with members of civil society and industry coming to West Asia. We are also delighted to be in this region and the UAE in particular,” said Mr Toepfer.
“It is the first time we have held our Governing Council in this part of the world. The commitment of the late Sheikh Zayed to environmental causes, the importance of energy and tourism to this country, makes Dubai the ideal venue,” he added.
The gathering will also take place as the country celebrates the awarding of the $1 million Zayed International Prize for the Environment.
Kofi Annan, the United Nations Secretary General, will be honoured on the evening of 6 February with the top Global Leadership prize for his commitment to sustainable development.
The awards ceremony will serve as the opening for the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Environment Forum which takes place between 7 and 9 February.
UNEP will launch its Global Environment Outlook Year Book 2006 outlining the state of the global and regional environment, with a special focus on energy and air pollution.
Other highlights include the International Conference on Chemicals Management which takes place between 4 and 6 February.
Here it is hoped that governments will adopt the Strategic Approach to International Chemicals Management, putting the world on track to make and use chemicals in a way that minimizes damage to human health and the environment.
In doing so governments will also put the world on track to meet the chemicals commitments made at the World Summit on Sustainable Development in 2002 in the Johannesburg Plan of Implementation.
Delegates from civil society, including trade unions, will meet between 5 and 6 February.
An international exhibit on environmentally sound technology dubbed “EST Showcase” will be staged in the Sheikh Rashid Hall.