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Central Asian countries pledge to fight common environmental woes through collaboration

Islamabad, June 01, 2016 (PPI-OT): Experts, researchers and scientists from Central Asian regional countries renewed their pledge to further enhance intra-regional collaboration and cooperation for tackling common environmental, climate change and sustainable development-related challenges.

Tackling these fundamental challenges through increased collaboration and cooperation in research, transfer of scientific, technical know-how and technology in environment, energy, water, biodiversity, health, education, transport and communication fields is key to achieving sustainable development goals, conserving natural resources and tackling poverty, hunger and disease, emphasized the environmental development and climate change experts from the member countries of the Economic Cooperation Organisation (ECO).

The ECO is an intergovernmental regional organization established in 1985 by Iran, Pakistan and Turkey for the purpose of promoting economic, technical and cultural cooperation among the member states. In 1992, the Organization was expanded to include seven new members, namely: Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, Republic of Azerbaijan, Republic of Kazakhstan, Kyrgyz Republic, Republic of Tajikistan, Turkmenistan and Republic of Uzbekistan.

Addressing the inaugural session of the 6th ECO Working Group Meeting on Environment here on Wednesday at a local hotel, the Federal Secretary Climate Change Ministry, Syed Abu Ahmad Akif, said that poverty, hunger, malnutrition and health diseases are common regional issues, which have been exacerbated further due to environmental degradation and global warming-induced climate change.

“However, tackling these common issues, are blocking the ECO-member countries’ efforts for achieving socio-economic sustainable development goals, fighting environmental degradation and climate change challenges calls for unified action and cooperation among the member countries,” the secretary climate change cautioned during his keynote address.

He highlighted that the 6th session of the ECO member countries, being hosted by Pakistan, provides unprecedented opportunity to discuss and strengthen mechanism for dealing with environmental and climate change challenges in the region.

He told the participants that the present Pakistani government is committed to achieving United Nations’ 17 sustainable development goals, poverty, hunger, malnutrition eradication, tackling environmental degradation, deforestation, and myriad climate change risks, particularly floods and water scarcity in the country.

The present government is also poised to join and support efforts of the ECO member countries to fight the identical issues for achieving overall socio-economic development goals, he added.

Chairman of the 6th ECO Working Group Meeting on Environment, Muhammad Irfan Tariq, told the meeting that deterioration of natural resources continues to affect livelihood and health issues in the 10 regional countries of Central Asia, which have aggravated the vulnerability of poor to climate change-caused disasters and environmental challenges.

“Environmental degradation, air and water pollution, ozone layer depletion, deforestation, desertification, vanishing bio-diversity and land degradation have resulted in climate change and ecological imbalance in all the regional countries,” he noted.

President of ECO Science Foundation (ECOSF), Professor Dr. Manzoor H. Soomro, told the meeting during his address highlighted the yawning gap of collaboration in science and technology within ECO member countries and urged the regional countries to plug the gap.

“The ECO member countries need to work hard to development joint research projects in environment, biodiversity, forestry, energy, education and health fields and jointly explore funding avenues for implementation of these research projects for addressing environmental, climate change and other socio-economic challenges,” he urged.

Dr. Soomro said that unprecedented potential of scientific and technological know-how and absence of advanced technology in the regional countries still remained untapped.

“Most of the regional environmental, climate change, energy and other socio economic issues can be effectively tackled, if the ECO member countries help each other to bridge the gap of scientific and technological know-how and research,” he stressed.

Director Economic Cooperation Organisation, Mr. Orkhan Zeynalov, said that 21st century global environmental challenges have immensely increased impacts on our planet and triggered changing climatic conditions and abrupt global warming, combined with the region-wide socio-economic disparities along various trans-boundary environmental issues, particularly desertification air pollution, water pollution, deforestation, heat waves, droughts, torrential rains, deluges, natural hazards, biodiversity and the degradation of ecosystems throughout the ECO region.

“This presses need for the regional countries to work steadily towards development of environmentally-sound mechanism and innovative solutions for the prevailing common challenges,” he underlined.

Talking about the ECO Secretariat’s role in helping regional countries to deal with common environmental, energy and climate change issues, Mr. Orkhan Zeynalov told the participants that since 2014, the Secretariat has been very active in implementation of its mandate in the environmental dimension and helped the regional countries stimulate high level policy debates for development of appropriate frameworks for regional and global partnerships.

He further said, “ In order to boost capacity of building of ECO member states in the field of sustainable forest management, the ECO Secretariat in support with the United Nations Forum on Forests (UNFF) is striving to bridge the gap of technology and scientific know-how as well as research gap.”

He also informed the participants that ECO was in process of initiating a new ECO Vision 2016-2015, which would set important areas of cooperation at the regional and global levels, with focus on common regional issues as well as on 2030 agenda for the UN’s 17 Sustainable Development Goals, provisions of the Paris Climate Change Agreement and Sendai Global Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction.

For more information, contact:
Muhammad Saleem
Deputy Director
Media and Communication
Ministry of Climate Change
Government of Pakistan
LG and RD Complex, G-5/2, ISLAMABAD
Ph: 051-9245565
E-mail: moccpakistan@hotmail.com
Web: http://www.mocc.gov.pk/

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