The second annual meeting of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) took place this past Thursday and Friday, this time with a harsh warning. That we are not doing enough to prevent environmental catastrophe in the Middle East.
Drawing together a versified group of delegates from the Middle East and North Africa, AFED is an attempt to form a unique Arab forum that is instrumental in promoting new environmental policies. AFED’s mission statement states that “the necessity has emerged for an independent non-governmental Arab forum, active and influential in promoting policies and projects to support sustainable development and defining common environmental issues, in a manner which helps in designing plans to tackle future challenges.”
The timing of the conference comes three weeks before the climate change summit in Copenhagen.
At the conference, environmental experts warned the delegates about the extreme effects that climate change would have on the Middle East. They stated that although the Middle East and North Africa only produce 5 percent of global carbon emissions, the region would be particularly devastated by rises in air and sea temperatures.
Lebanese President, Michel Sleiman, supported the conference and stressed the importance of international cooperation in his address to conference delegates. He said that “the diversity of participants highlights the international nature of environmental issues. Our Arab region, as part of the earth, is suffering from the negative impact of climate change [such as] scarcity of drinking water… and the decrease of fertility of land. This is not simple exaggeration; it is fact.”
Not all the speeches were met with respectful silence, though. During a speech made by Suleiman al-Herbish (Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development), protesters from the Lebanese environmental NGO IndyACT stormed the stage and unrolled a banner reading “Arabs are more than oil.” (This is the same organization that hosted a “Green Carpet” Premiere of The Age of Stupid a few weeks ago.)
Interested in participating in a Middle Eastern environmental conference? Read more to find out about some that are coming up:
Registration is Now Open for the First Gulf Environment Forum in Saudi Arabia
The 2010 Eilat Eilot Renewable Energy Conference Looks to Carbon-Free Energy
Book Now For Abu Dhabi’s World Future Energy Summit 2010