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UN official urges focus on root causes of civil unrest that can lead to terrorism

UN official urges focus on root causes of civil unrest that can lead to terrorism

The world must tackle international terrorism as well as the forces of poverty, environmental degradation and hatred that give birth to intolerance and can lead to fundamentalism and terrorist acts, the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) said today.

"Desperate people can resort to desperate solutions - they may care little about themselves and the people they hurt," said Klaus Toepfer at the launch in Kazakhstan of a regional environmental action plan for Central Asia. "When people are denied access to clean water, soil, and air to meet their basic human needs, we see the rise of poverty, ill-health and a sense of hopelessness."

UNEP's Executive Director strongly condemned the recent attacks against the United States as "a crime against humanity, an act of horrendous violence against all races and creeds." At the same time, he called for attention to the "forces that create poverty, intolerance, hatred and environmental degradation that can lead to an unstable world."

"We must alter our trading patterns and practices so that we eradicate poverty in the developing world and eliminate environmentally-subsidized over consumption in the developed world," said Mr. Toepfer. "Careful and fair management of environmental resources is an important part of our peace policy for the future."

Concerning Central Asia, the UNEP Executive Director congratulated countries of the region for their cooperation in addressing the degradation of the Aral Sea and the other trans-boundary problems. He particularly lauded today's launch of the Regional Environment Action Plan, which deals with pollution, land degradation, waste management and mountain ecosystem degradation.