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News ID: 4135
Publish Date: 25 December 2014 - 11:51
Statement by Ambassador Shamil Alaskarov, the ECO Secretary General at 5th ECO Ministerial Meeting on Environment on 17 December 2014 in Istanbul
Ambassador Shamil AlaskarovECO-IEST:
Statement by Ambassador Shamil Alaskarov, the ECO Secretary General at 5th ECO Ministerial Meeting on Environment on 17 December 2014 in Istanbul:

"Your Excellency 
Mr. IDRIS GÜLLÜCE, Minister of Environment and Urbanization of the  Republic of Turkey,
Honorable Ministers and Heads of Delegations,
Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honor and privilege for me to be here and address this meeting. On behalf of the ECO Secretariat I would like to greet Ministers and heads of delegations and wish Fifth ECO Ministerial Meeting on Environment effective deliberations in its work. I would like to express my heartfelt gratitude to the Government of the Republic of Turkey for the warm hospitality extended to all delegations and excellent conditions provided for the fruitful work of the Meeting. 

I also wish to express my appreciation to distinguished delegates from international organizations for being here with us and hope that this joint gathering will reveal significant potential for interregional dialogue and opportunities to benefit from an exchange of experience and to learn from each other. 

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

During last two decades ECO has developed into a full-fledged regional organization with growing international profile and has Shamil Alaskarov at 5th ECO MMEbeen exposed to the trending challenges international community is facing. In this regard global environmental challenges have already induced regional cooperation in ECO region. Changing climatic conditions, increased population, economic growth and increasing pressures on the natural resources, combined with the region-wide social-economic inequities bought along various trans-boundary environmental issues, like air pollution, availability of water, forests, biodiversity, the number of natural disasters and functioning of ecosystems throughout ECO region. In this regard the  need for the ECO Member States to work towards development of environmentally sound mechanisms and innovative solutions for facing and prevailing common challenges is a primary task.

ECO Secretariat through facilitation of policy dialogue between relevant stakeholders is striving to raise awareness that enhancement of policy coherence, adaptation of existing institutional arrangements and establishing new frameworks for synergies across sectors will contribute to sustainable development and long-term safety of ECO region environment and thus environmental dimension deserves to be treated as a top priority for our Organization.

Our current umbrella document - "ECO Plan of Action on Environmental Cooperation and Global Warming” (2011-2015) needs serious reconsideration/revision for more streamlined, efficient and all-inclusive framework document to help addressing common environmental challenges in ECO region in a more comprehensive and balanced manner. Active stakeholder participation and engagement from within and outside the Region is the key to the success.   

Today's meeting coincides with global climate negotiations in Lima, Peru within the 20th session of the Conference of Parties (COP 20) to the UNFCCC and the 10th session of the meeting of the Parties to the Kyoto Protocol. Hopefully Parties will achieve progress to be able to adopt new global climate regime at COP 21 in Paris 2015.

Involved stakeholders around the globe are working to find common ground in preparing a global Post-2015 Development Agenda that will embrace all aspects of sustainable development guided by a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). I believe ECO region could play an important role in advancement and implementation of Rio+20 agenda.

Four ECO Ministerial Meetings on Environment and recent "ECO Consultative Ministerial Meeting on Environment" held on June 2014 in Nairobi on the sidelines of the United Nations Environmental Assembly (UNEA) greatly contributed to stimulating policy debates for developing appropriate frameworks for regional arrangements. During Nairobi Meeting the Ministers, inter alia, requested the ECO Council of Ministers to designate "Environment” as a cross-sectoral priority of the Organization to be seriously considered by all ECO activities and events on different issues and at different levels.

While welcoming specific measures taken in individual ECO Member States related to climate change adaptation and mitigation, it is right time to consider a shift in paradigm focusing on synergy impacts and enhancing regional concerted actions to identify common applicable approaches on combating climate change and mobilizing resources for adaptation and mitigation related actions among key stakeholders. In this regard we commend the idea of establishment of a "Trust Fund for supporting high priority projects on environment and biodiversity" proposed during the 2nd ECO Experts Group Meeting on Biodiversity held in Antalya in November 2014.

Excellencies, Ladies and Gentlemen,

It is evident that ECO environmental agenda cannot be advanced in isolation from global environmental agenda. ECO Secretariat has recently expanded its outreach through new partnerships. The role of ECO as the most inclusive intergovernmental platform in the region was recently acknowledged by the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF). ECO-UNFF joint regional meeting on "Harnessing Climate Change Financing for Sustainable Forest Management in the ECO Region" held on 29 April-1 May 2014 in Tehran agreed on key actions to be implemented by ECO and other stakeholders, including UNFF, FAO, GEF and ECO Institute of Environmental Science and Technology (ECO IEST). 

Outcome document of Rio+20 also recognized the importance of integrating water into all three pillars of sustainable development – economic, social, and environmental. Most of the ECO Member States are in an arid and semi-arid climatic zones causing long periods of drought and short periods of rainfall. Our joint efforts for conservation of trans-boundary wetlands and water bodies, preservation and management of water resources should serve the common regional task of increasing awareness on effective and responsible utilization of water resources and therefore objectives of sustainable water management and environmental impact assessment. 

Excellencies, Distinguished participants

Final Document of Consultative Ministerial Meeting in Nairobi (June 2014) provides basic list of policy options and frameworks to enhance regional environmental cooperation. It is imperative that main recommendations of this Meeting - conducting a study on the "State of Environment (SoE) for ECO Region", promotion of green economy, designation of environment as a cross-sectoral priority of the Organization and addressing natural disasters from environmental impacts perspective has to be championed by our Member States.   

It is time to shift from a development paradigm that focuses only on the rate of economic growth to one that ensures quality of growth which is inclusive and sustainable, resulting in ecological sustainability for whole ECO region. I am confident that "Istanbul Declaration on Climate Change and Green Economy" we will adopt today will serve as a solid base from which to strengthen and grow our policy dialogue. 

We remain hopeful and confident this Meeting would bring new ideas in better defining the strategy/roadmap for future action and would stimulate proper follow-up activities. Secretariat will spare no efforts to this end.    

Concluding, I would like to thank again the Government of the Republic of Turkey for generously hosting this important meeting and wish you all successful deliberations and a pleasant stay in Istanbul."

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