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Zayed calls for unified Arab work on Environment and Energy

posted on 03/02/2003: 1679 views

President H.H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan al Nahyan has called for unified Arab work in the field of environmental protection. He also called for support for the cooperation and coordination efforts among Arabs in that field. Sheikh Zayed made the call in his opening address to the 2003 Environment and Energy Exhibition and Conference, which opened in Abu Dhabi yesterday at the premises of the General Exhibitions Corporation, GEC.

The conference was opened by Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Director General of the President's Office, Sheikh Zayed's statement was read on his behalf by the Minister of Health, Abdul Rahman Al Midfa, who is also the Chairman of the Federal Environmental Agency, FEA. The UAE President, who urged Arabs to increase their contributions to the global dialogue on development and environmental issues, which are of great concern to the world in general, reiterated that the UAE had been able to draw a comprehensive national strategy which clearly identifies the country's objectives, areas of work and priorities in the field of environmental protection.

He said that the UAE was now at the threshold of a new era, which will see the country bolstering the foundations of its sustainable environmental administration in the light of its laws, legislations, rules and regulations, coupled with its ratification of numerous regional and international agreements and declarations on environmental protection, anti-pollution and the protection of natural resources.

Sheikh Zayed pointed out that the UAE's experience in stretching its hand of friendship to various nations and peoples reflects its wise approach, history and heritage, which are based on cooperation, mutual interest and goodwill for all, adding that the peoples of the region were in high anticipation of economic and social development, in order to be able to catch up with the rest of the world. Following is the full text of the statement:

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, It is with pleasure that I welcome you here today to the United Arab Emirates and to the second in the series of biennial global meetings on these topics. This year's event is dedicated to the discussion of energy and environment issues and to an exchange of views on them, as well as to providing an opportunity for new techniques and technologies to be presented that will help to maintain the balance between environment and development or "sustainable development," as this balance is now termed.

Our people yearn for socio-economic development so that they may catch up with the trend of global development while, at the same time, ensuring that they do not put at risk their deep-rooted heritage and traditions also believing that Nature should be preserved unharmed and that natural resources should be well-managed, appropriately developed and widely exploited. When, in years gone by, We called for the conservation of nature, We did not do so out of a desire to be ahead of others who have, more recently, made the same call, nor did we seek approbation from the rest of the world. We did so out of our firm belief in our Islamic faith and our pure Arab traditions that call for the maintaining of balance between Man and the environment.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The issue of sustainable development is one that has been of concern to all in the United Arab Emirates, whether government authorities, private companies or individuals. This concern has led us to disseminate among the public at large an awareness of the need to achieve a balance between the environment and development. It has, further, helped the concerned institutions to draw up long-term strategies and to define their priorities and needs. At the level of public policy, we have directed that there should be proper co-ordination between institutions that project plans should be prepared through collaboration and joint study that our resources should be properly utilised and that expertise and views should be shared in a sincere and patriotic manner.

We have, further, collaborated with our brethren in the Gulf and in the rest of the Arab world, as well as globally, in order to address difficult international issues and to reach to a proper solution whereby sustainable development can be achieved and the problems that could have an adverse impact upon Man can be effectively tackled.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The commitment of the United Arab Emirates to the conservation of the environment has been further strengthened by our adoption of the principles of sustainable development and by ensuring that environmental aspects are taken into account in the planning of our development. Further, we have joined hands with regional and international agencies and have supported environmentally related initiatives on a national level, and have also supported the efforts of Non-Governmental Organisations, NGOs.

Thanks to Almighty God, we have been able to plant large areas of our deserts with grass and trees. We have increased awareness amongst our people of the importance of agriculture. We have introduced programmes to protect endangered species of wildlife, have introduced legislation to ban the hunting of birds and other wild animals, and have created nature reserves. We have, further, directed that the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Flora and Fauna, CITES, should be firmly implemented, and, to this effect, we have issued national legislation and have established the mechanism for its implementation.

The UAE has offered a welcome to global organisations and agencies involved in environmental conservation, such as the Worldwide Fund for Nature, WWF. We have also devoted particular attention to the conservation and use of the marine environment, since this is an important part of our national cultural heritage. To this end, we have established a number of projects dealing with our marine environment and its resources, and have issued legislation regulating the exploitation of marine resources and laying down the guidelines for protection and development of our marine life.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, The Government of the United Arab Emirates has provided support to environmental agencies and institutions throughout the country and, over the past decade, has worked hard to stimulate environmental activity within the state. These efforts culminated in the promulgation of the federal law for the conservation and development of the environment. This law, as its name suggests, has the aim of protecting the environment, controlling pollution in its various forms, safeguarding bio-diversity and averting any adverse effects that our development planning may have on the environment, or that may hamper sustainable utilisation of environments and resources, as well as protecting the country from harmful impact of activities taking place abroad.

The government has devised national and local strategies and is now on the threshold of being able to lay down firm foundations for sustainable development, within the framework of national, regional and international legislation pertinent to environmental conservation and pollution control.

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, "From our own experience, we are aware that the extending of a hand of friendship to other countries and the provision of as much as we can towards efforts to counteract or avoid natural or other disasters is an approach that fairly represents the nature of our history and heritage. As an oil-producing country, it is our duty to make strenuous efforts to maintain a clean environment by reducing levels of pollution during the various production processes of the hydrocarbons industry, to improve the standards of energy products so that they are environmentally-friendly and to seek to eliminate any lacunae that could result in the imposition of discriminatory policies against oil and gas as energy sources, such as the of taxes on oil and gas derivatives.”

Your Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen, "It is our hope that your conference will examine the Arab and international endeavours in terms of the extraction, production, export and consumption of energy, as well as efforts to make its exploitation more cost-effective. We further hope that you will address such issues as the expansion of the global energy market, particularly in developing countries, and the possible effects of such expansion both on the environment and on non-renewable energy resources, with the objective of drawing up realistic, practical and viable proposals, then continuing to define pre-emptive policies based on cleaner production, more efficient systems and safer usage of energy as well as the appropriate management of emissions and waste and ways of preventing accidents.”

"We further hope that your conference will examine ways of enhancing the competitiveness of Arab industries and commodities, including oil and gas, and ways of removing any obstacles that hinder their ability to penetrate global markets, noting, in particular, the necessity for non-selective and fair partnerships to be established between the countries of the North and the South without political or economic pre-conditions. Once again, we would like to welcome the Arab environment and energy ministers, who will hold an historic meeting here tomorrow with the purpose of working out guidelines that can help to protect the environment and sustain energy resources in the Arab world. "Since the first of this biennial series of conference, two years ago, it has become a matter of routine to stress the need for common Arab action and for a further enhancement of the Arab contribution to the global dialogue, especially as regards environmental and development issues.

We would also like to thank members of the International Energy Council, who have chosen to hold their annual convention here in Abu Dhabi on the sidelines of this conference. Thank you. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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