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The World Summit on 
Sustainable Development
West Asia Preparatory Meeting

24 October 2001 Cairo, Egypt

The West Asia (Arab Region) Preparatory Conference for the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) took place at the Arab League in Cairo, Egypt, on 24 October 2001 from 5:15 pm to 8:15 PM The Conference was attended by approximately 140 government delegates and observers, including NGO representatives and international organizations. Prior to the preparatory conference, government delegates met in a two-day special session of the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab Region (JCEDAR) on Sunday and Monday 20-21 October, the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE) met on Tuesday 22 October, and the CAMRE Bureau met on Wednesday morning, 24 October. Following the three days of technical and ministerial meetings to develop and discuss the Assessment Report for the Arab Region, the Arab Declaration, and the Arab Address, a formal half-day Conference was held on Wednesday evening, 24 October, for formal presentation and adoption of the documents. Key regional issues emerging from the meetings include, inter alia, instability from lack of peace and security, poverty, water management and the need for integration across political levels and sustainable development sectors.

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Omar Touqan, Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA), Kamal Sanada, Economic Department, Arab League, Chair Abdulla Abdulrahman Al-Aryani, Minister of Tourism and Environment, Yemen, Prince Fahd bin Abdallah Al Saud, Saudi Arabia, Chairman of the Executive Bureau of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment, and Shafqat Kakahel, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP

Abdulla Abdulrahman Al-Aryani, Minister of Tourism of Environment of Yemen and Chairman of the 13th Session of CAMRE (left), called the West Asia Preparatory Committee Meeting to order at 5:15 PM He recalled the definition of sustainable development, noted the challenges to the realization of sustainable development including urbanization and the need to link social, economic and environmental aspects for positive impact, drew attention to the Ministerial meeting of March 2002 Arab Summit in Beirut and said there is need to establish a mechanism to finance programmes on sustainable development. Noting that an atmosphere of stability based on partnership and equity is important for the attainment of sustainable development, he expressed interest in regional and international cooperation for peace and security. Photo: Chair Abdulla Abdulrahman Al-Aryani, Mahmood Yousef Abdulraheem, UNEP Regional Office for West Asia and Shafqat Kakahel (right)
Prince Fahd bin Abdallah Al Saud of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, Chair of the Executive Bureau of CAMRE (left), highlighted issues important to the region including globalization, the importance of civil society participation, the need not to separate social and economic aspects from those of environment, and proposed the establishment of a regional Ministerial level Arab Council for sustainable development for the Summit. He stressed establishing a mechanism to finance programmes on sustainable development and called for: a preparatory meeting at the level of General Secretariat of these councils as soon as possible; and the establishment of a world mechanism for sustainable development and for good governance.

In his statement, UNEP Deputy Executive Director Shafqat Kakahel (right) expressed confidence that the documents generated through this meeting would reflect the unique priorities, challenges and determination of the Arab region. Emphasizing the need for financial and other resources and for the UN system and other multi-lateral agencies to contribute to regional sustainable development efforts, Kakahel stated that UNEP would work with ESCWA, regional partners and other actors to operationalize development goals.

Omar Touqan, ESCWA (left): highlighted progress made on, inter alia, boosting the role of women and increasing the role of NGOs; said political instability is a hindrance to sustainable development; noted other constraints such as the negative impact of technology on the environment, consumerism and poverty, noted the negative impacts and opportunities presented by globalization. Photo: Omar Touqan, ESCWA, Emad Adly, Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED) and Hosny Khordagui, ESCWA
Fatma Salah El Mallah, League of Arab States (right), representing the Technical Secretariat, presented the key positions of the Arab Address, which highlights the following areas: peace and security, poverty eradication, the debt burden, international trade, globalization, building research and technological capacity, governance, population, urban development, health and environment connections, integrated management of natural resources, industry and tourism, natural and cultural heritage, and finance Photo: Kathleen Abdalla, UN Department of Economic and Social Affairs.
International Organizations in the conference room (left) and Omar Touqan, ESCWA speaks with a delegate during the coffee break

Mahmood Yousef Abdulraheem, UNEP ROWA (left), presented the Arab Declaration and described its origins in the Abu Dhabi declaration and negotiations that took place in Beirut last February, as well as in meetings of experts, civil society groups and others. He detailed the following sections: hindrances to sustainable development in the Arab world including regional instability, debt burdens, population pressures, drought and limited natural resources; opportunities to achieve SD including through the addressing of poverty and utilization of technological advances; and Arab strategies and priorities for enhancing development including cooperation with the G-77 and other developing countries, establishment of legal frameworks to move toward an international standard, poverty alleviation, working with the WTO, funding mechanisms, and monitoring measures to oversee follow-up.

Palestine, supported by Syria (right) and Lebanon, proposed the establishment of an environmental crimes tribunal similar to that for war crimes, highlighting environmental problems related to military occupation by Israel. Iraq (bottom left) said that such a tribunal should encompass environmental violations by all countries, not only those by Israel. Saudi Arabia (bottom right) noted the importance of collaborating with the G-77 to develop the idea of a tribunal, pointing out that if such a tribunal were to be international in scope then it should be taken up at the international, rather than regional, level. He also remarked that such a tribunal would be a double-edged sword that might be turned on any country, and advocated taking this matter up in the Arab Address of the WSSD, rather than in the Declaration.
Sudanese Environment Minister El Tigani Adam El Tahir (left) and Saudi Arabia (right)
Iraq and Oman

On the Arab Declaration to the WSSD, Jordan, supported by Palestine, Tunisia and Syria, called for annexation of a proposal that each Arab country be encouraged to establish a national committee for sustainable development. Tunisia (left) related such bodies to the proposed Arab Council for Sustainable Development. Iraq noted that this issue was national so not appropriate for inclusion in the Declaration. Photo: Tunisia and Algeria
Egyptian Environment Minister Nadia Makram Ebeid said a major challenge will be to incorporate the Assessment Report into action and stressed the importance of a mechanism to achieve development goals

Hala Achour, on behalf of a group of Arab NGOs, expressed support for the September 2001 Ministerial Bahrain Declaration and drew attention to: the fact that non-compliance with Agenda 21 in the Arab region was due to non-commitment of governments to Agenda 21; and reaffirmed the importance of mechanisms and plans within the Ministerial discourse associated with the Arab Region, as well as the involvement of youth in decisionmaking. She said the Israeli occupation hinders sustainable development and called on the Arab Ministers to bring an end to this situation.
Jenny Mandel speaks with Hala Achour, of the Arab NGO Network (left)
Jordanian Minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs and the Environment Abdul Razzaq Tbeishat (left)
Jordanian Minister of Planning Jawad Hadid
Fahd Ben Abdullah Al-Seond after the closure of the meeting (left) and Prince Lincoln Marais, Department of Foreign Affairs, WSSD Substance Unit, South Africa speaks with the GEF representative (right)
Kathleen Abdalla, UNDESA, on behalf of Under Secretary General Nitin Desai, spoke on the world's changes since Rio, noting current key issues of managing the challenges of globalization, persistence of armed conflicts, and making sustainable development operational, translating concepts into practices. Calling for renewed commitments to Agenda 21, she stressed the importance of national and regional preparations for the Johannesburg Summit.
Emad Adly, Arab Network for Environment and Development (RAED) speaks with Kathleen Abdalla, UN DESA, and ENB team members. Abdu Al Assiri, UNEP/ROWA speaks with ENB writer Alison Ormsby, Hosny Khordagui, ESCWA, and Kathleen Abdalla, UN DESA (right)
UNDP stressed the importance of poverty eradication and the need for globalization to work for the poor; recalling the UNDP contribution toward sustainable development amounting to USD195 million per year. She also noted WSSD-related activities undertaken by UNDP's Capacity 21 programme and the potential areas for future action and called for action, particularly in regard to capacity building, linking global to local issues, climate change and energy and lasting peace and security in the region. She said UNDP can assist in ensuring the participation of the planning, trade and economy ministries of in the WSSD process.
The Global Environment Facility (GEF) (center) noted accelerated environmental degradation in recent times, expressed interest in broadening partnership in the Arab region based on what we learn here and at other regional meetings, and to work with member States and stakeholders in providing catalytic action.

Jordanian Minister of Planning Jawad Hadid talks with Jenny Mandel, ENB, and Kathleen Abdulla, DESA

The World Bank Statement

Displays in the corridors

The Arab League Building

West Asia Meetings
United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia
League of Arab States

Linkages Introduction to the Johannesburg Summit 2002 - the essential CSD primer to the Summit
Linkage's Portal to the Johannesburg Summit 2002 - access coverage of all WSSD Regional Preparatory meetings; background info on the CSD process, introduction to the Summit, UNCED history, the GA resolution; Who's Who; Publications; Calendar of Events; Preparations at the global, regional, sub-regional, national, and local levels; and other online resources

ENB Coverage of the First Preparatory Session of the World Summit on Sustainable Development
ENB Coverage of the UNECE Regional Ministerial Meeting for the World Summit on Sustainable Development

South Africa Summit Site
UN Official Summit Website
Asia Pacific Region WSSD site
UNECE Region's website for the WSSD
African Regional Preparatory Process

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