The Fourth Islamic Conference of Ministers of Environment was held under the high patronage of H.E. Mr. Zine El Abidin Ben Ali, President of the Tunisian Republic, in the city of Hammamet, Tunisia, on 5-6 October 2010.
At the opening of the Conference, H.E. President Zine El Abidine Ben Ali gave a speech pointing out the challenges humankind faces such as water scarcity, sand encroachment and climate change. He further laid out a clear-sighted and forward looking vision for the preservation of nature, protection of life on the planet, sustainable development and promotion of global solidarity to overcome the challenges in these areas.
H.E. Ekmeleddin İhsanoğlu, Secretary General of the OIC, in his statement during the opening ceremony, drew attention to the recent devastating floods in Pakistan and underlined the imperativeness for the OIC Member States to develop and strengthen national and international legislations and frameworks to respond to the ever increasing number of natural disasters and all other environmental challenges. To better address environment and resource protection issues, he also stated the need to focus more on to capacity building, development of expertise and training of professionals and expressed his appreciation for the work being done by the Islamic Environment Information Centre in Jeddah, In this regard, he also mentioned the important role played by SESRIC in collating and analyzing a database of environmental indications in the Member States.
After the adoption of the Draft Agenda and Programme, the Conference Bureau was elected based on the proposal put forward and the participating heads of delegations from member states delivered their statements and reports in the field of environment and sustainable development.
During the second Session, the Ministers examined the Report of the Islamic Executive Bureau for Environment, the Report of ISESCO’s Efforts in the Fields of Environment Protection, Water Resources Management, Renewable Energy and Sustainable Development. The meeting continued with the presentation of the Assessment Report on the Outcome of the Previous Three Sessions of the Islamic Conference of Environment Ministers.
Taking into consideration the observations made by the Conference members, the updated vision of General Framework of Islamic Agenda for Sustainable Development was adopted afterwards. The document highlighted the environment priority issues in the Islamic world, as well as the positive development in a number of Member States where the competent parties developed plans and implemented projects at protecting the environment and achieving rational use of natural resources. In this context, the importance of collaboration with the regional and international organizations was underlined and Member States were invited to develop more joint Islamic projects on environment related issues such as agricultural production, fighting famine and food shortages, improving green technologies, etc.
Under the strategies and programmes’ session, the draft Strategy on Management of Disaster Risks and Climate Change Implications in the Islamic World, the draft Strategy for Energy Efficient and Promotion of Clean and Renewable Energy in Islamic Countries and the draft Action Programme to Benefit from Adaptation Funds and Clean Development Mechanisms in Islamic World were endorsed. The members of Conference asserted again the need to launch national projects in cooperation with international parties in order to benefit from these strategies and programmes.
As specialized projects, the draft Environment Action Plan in the Islamic World was handled. It was decided to establish a high-level climate change expert network of Member States to keep pace with the latest developments and to enhance knowledge by sharing experiences and projects. Member States were also requested to devote special attention to water issues in the Islamic World. The Project on the Islamic Environment Network in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia was the other agenda item under specialized project. The delegates thanked the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for all the efforts made in launching the project, which will ensure better environment security through the provision of relevant data, technical services and trainings to assist Member States in the conservation of the environment.
At the closing Session of the Conference, the members of the Conference reiterated their commitment to the Islamic Declaration on Sustainable Development and the Jeddah Commitments for Sustainable Development as issued by the First and Second Islamic Conferences on Environment Ministers, held in Jeddah, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, respectively in 2002 and 2006. They also renewed the commitment of the Islamic world to the activation of programmes schedules as part of the celebration of 2010 as an International Year of Biodiversity, and stepping up efforts to protect biodiversity through increased awareness of its importance and a concrete response to the deterioration of ecosystems as a result of environment degradation and climate change.
The Conference adopted the Tunis Declaration on “Enhancing the Efforts of the Islamic World towards Environment Protection and Sustainable Development” based on the report of the experts’ committee and all the other guidance documents presented during the Conference. The adopted Tunis Appeal on “Youth and Biodiversity” was also requested to be submitted to the various UN bodies. The members of the Conference expressed their concern about the developments taking place in Palestinian occupied territories and delivered the “Communiqué on the Environmental Situation in Palestine”.
The Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ISESCO), the General Presidency for Meteorology and Environment in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, and the Tunisian Ministry of Environment and Sustainable Development were lauded for the efforts they put in the preparation of the Conference which ended with the addresses of H.E. Dr. Abdulaziz Othman Altwaijri, Director General of ISESCO and H.R.H. Prince Turki bin Nasser bin Abdul Aziz, President of the Conference.
Mrs. Zehra Zumrut Selcuk, researcher at the Statistics and Information Department, represented the Centre thereat and conveyed the message of Dr. Savaş Alpay, Director General of SESRIC. In his statement, Dr. Alpay stressed the importance of promoting academic research to share knowledge and experience for the sake of achieving higher environmental standards, to frame an integrated environment plan for the Islamic World and to increase cooperation among member countries and international organizations. In this context, he emphasized the dedication and efforts of SESRIC to complement the endeavours and achievements of member countries through disseminating and analyzing environment-related indicators, preparing reports on these areas of concern, organizing capacity building programmes to train professionals in the field of environment and implementing joint environment projects with other international organizations.
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