New UN-backed programme to promote sustainable development in Arab States

7 February 2007

A new United Nations-backed programme, bolstered by the public and private sector, was launched today to allow Arab States to achieve sustainable development in the face of both opportunities and risks posed by globalization.

Details of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED), which has already gained the status of a regional non-governmental organization (NGO), were discussed during a Session of the Governing Council/Global Ministerial Forum of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) held in Nairobi, Kenya.

“The AFED is a welcome initiative that lays down steps towards achieving sustainable development in a globalized world including through empowerment of civil society and the consumer,” said UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner.

AFED will produce an annual progress report to trace the performance of Arab nations with respect to international development treaties, ranging from those pertaining to the elimination of ozone-depleting chemicals to the achievement of the Millennium Development Goals (MDGs), a series of targets to slash global ills such as poverty and illiteracy by 2015.

“In order that the Arab countries may occupy a decent position in the new world market, we hope that this forum will succeed in encouraging Arab businessmen and economic institutions to collaborate in the direction of opening an Arab common market for products which are friendly to the environment as well as in the direction of harmonizing environmental measures,” said AFED Secretary General Najib Saab.

Mr. Saab also said that AFED will promote cooperation between the public and private sector – in particular, chambers of commerce, industry, scientific research centres and educational institutes – in the Arab world to develop joint environmental programmes.

To be based in Beirut, AFED is supported by key Arab environment ministers and League of Arab States officials, and members also include journalists, scientists, academics and other experts. Government agencies will be registered as observers to the initiative.

The programme will be funded by membership dues, contributions to AFED’s Trust Fund, donations by corporate partners and organizations and income generated by AFED activities and services.


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