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Environment and Energy 2003 a major event in Arab region

posted on 20/01/2003: 1738 views

The Environment and Energy 2003 Exhibition and Conference, to be held from February 2-5, in the capital, is being deemed as one of the most significant events to be held in the Arab region, said Majid Al Mansouri, ERWDA's Secretary General, in an interview with Emirates News Agency, WAM. The following is the full text of the interview:

Q1: Regarding the Environment and Energy 2003 Exhibition and Conference to be held from February 2-5, 2003. How are preparations for this major event going? Who are the keynote speakers in the Conference?

A1: Preparations are proceeding on schedule and the organizing committee has prepared working plans for this event, which is being deemed as one of the most significant environmental events to be held in the Arab region. The theme we've chosen for this conference is "Environment and Energy: A Framework for Sustainable Development." Preparations have been discussed during several meetings conducted by the Higher Organizing Committee to make sure this event is a success and to formulate future strategies for the conservation of the environment and natural resources of the country.

The event is being organized under the patronage of His Highness President Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. We will be having keynote speakers such as Mrs. Barbara McKee, Chairperson of the World Energy Council Fossil Fuel System Committee (CFFS), and Dr. Claude Martin, Director of WWF, among many others. Speakers will also include some of the world's top scientists and professionals, from the United States, Europe, Asia and North Africa, working on environmental and conservation issues.

Arab ministers responsible for the environment and energy are expected to attend as well as a number of international and regional environmentalists and energy experts. Participants who share a profound interest and knowledge in the global environment and the important issue of sustainable development will also be arriving from various countries, industries, non-governmental organizations and international organizations. Preparations are also underway to finalize the schedule of the four days of the Conference.

The opening session will commence with an address from H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the patron of the event, followed by the organizers' remarks. Prior to the official opening of the event, the U.N.'s Under Secretary and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program Dr. Klaus Toepfer will address the conference as will Dr. Mervat Al Tellawy, Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ECSWA), to name a few. Throughout the Conference, a total of 55 experts will be presenting their experience and views to the Conference.

On the second day, a workshop on Clean Development Mechanisms will be held. The Conference will conclude with a panel discussion on an integrated approach to tackle the issues brought forth during the four days (policies, technologies present and future, and socio-economic aspects).

Q2: This is the second year the Conference is being held in Abu Dhabi. What are the expectations for this year's event?

A2: The overall objective is to provide a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among decision-makers, scientists, industrialists, strategists and economists involved in the environment and energy sectors. The Conference is expected to provide a valuable opportunity for decision makers to observe the experiments of other nations and the technology employed to develop it.

They will also be able to benefit from new, appropriate and transferable technologies and create awareness of the growing concern about energy and environment as an important part of the globalisation process. Active input from the World Energy Council is expected through their contribution to the discussion of the different issues of the Conference. This is in addition to their holding their annual meeting during the Conference. ECSWA will also contribute to the themes by presenting papers on themes and sub themes of the Conference.

Q3: What will the focus of the Conference be? Which topics are expected to be discussed?

A3: The Conference will cover a wide range of environmental issues and environmental programmes for sustainable development in the Arab region during the 21st century, in addition to the current situation of environmental protection activities and future trends in environmental issues. The focus will be on the development of an integrated environment-energy strategy for the region building upon and consolidating the provisions of the Abu Dhabi Declaration in achieving sustainable development.

The Abu Dhabi Declaration is a culmination of plans and strategies for sustainable environmental development in the Arab region in the 21st century. The presentations delivered will cover five main themes which include 'Energy Policy and its Implications for Sustainable Development,' 'Environmentally Sound Energy Technology', 'Environment and Industry', 'Socio-economic Aspects of Energy Management', and the final one being 'Integrative Approaches to Energy and the Environment.'

There are 11 sub themes some of which are the socio-economic implications of energy, poverty alleviation, and clean production strategies. Q4: The Gulf Region is known to be facing many environmental challenges at the moment. Do you regard this as a fitting and necessary time to have an environmental strategy on energy? A4: Yes, we do think it is high time we had a comprehensive strategy dealing with energy. This emphasizes the importance and necessity of the Conference in the region.

Discussing the implementation of a strategy will be at the top of the list of priorities of the experts at the Conference. The Arab ministers of energy and environment will discuss in the meeting how to reach a balance between energy and environment. It is worthwhile to keep in mind that this is the first gathering of ministers responsible for the environment and for energy.

Q5: Do you consider the dream of reaching sustainable development a realistic one in developing countries which face many environmental and economical challenges?

A5: We believe that sustainable development can be accomplished only with unified efforts and cooperation between developed and developing countries. The UAE has called for the unification of regional and local organizations on numerous occasions in order to make better use of financial resources to support various environment and development programmes.

On the national level, the UAE has put forth strong efforts in the field of conservation and sustainable development under the wise leadership of HH Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. The negative rating received by the developing countries according to the Davos Sustainability Index, prompted the need for a new set of parameters to evaluate the activities and analyse the data of developing countries in the area of sustainable development.

The Abu Dhabi Global Initiative was then launched and has added momentum to the global drive towards obtaining quality data needed by the decision makers on the national, regional and international levels.

Q6: Can we expect to see a declaration issued on behalf of the Arab energy and environment ministers in the same context as the Abu Dhabi Declaration which was issued on February 3, 2001?

A6: The Abu Dhabi Declaration is a culmination of plans and strategies for sustainable environmental development in the Arab region in the 21st century. It was approved at the meeting of the Arab ministers of environment held on February 3rd, 2001. The meeting also approved the Arab Environmental Act, which highlighted topics such as the current situation of environmental protection activities and future trends in environmental issues.

The conference hopes to build upon and consolidate the provisions of the Abu Dhabi Declaration in achieving sustainable development. We hope to see a culmination of efforts to produce a joint declaration entitled the Abu Dhabi Declaration on Energy and Environment.

A draft has been proposed by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources, ADNOC, ERWDA, the FEA, the General Exhibitions Corporation, UNEP, ECSWA, The Technical Secretariat of the Arab League, OPEC and OAPEC. Q7: Which organizations are sponsoring and supporting this event? A7: ADNOC is sponsoring the event while Offsets, Shell, BP, TotalFinaElf and Dolphin Energy Ltd. are all co-sponsoring. The Federal Environment Agency (FEA), United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the UAE University are supporters.

The co-organizers of the conference are the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and the Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA). For the conference, ESCWA effectively contributed whereby they identified potential speakers, submitted presentation papers on different themes and closely cooperated in the organization of the event. Meanwhile, UNEP has put forward a proposal for the CDM Workshop and identified potential speakers as well as other contributions to the main themes and sub themes of the Conference. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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