Manama: Bahrain, represented by the Supreme Council for Environment, hosted the First Ministerial Meeting on COVID-19 and the Environment in West Asia.
The meeting, organized by the United Nations Environment Programme’s (UNEP) Regional Office for West Asia, aimed to highlight the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on the region and to recommend specific, sustainable, and environmentally friendly measures and policies.
In his opening remarks, Dr. Mohamed Mubarak Bin Daina, Vice President of the United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) and Executive Chairman of the Supreme Council for Environment in Bahrain, conveyed the greetings of His Highness Shaikh Abdullah bin Hamad Al Khalifa, the Personal Representative of HM the King and President of the Supreme Council for Environment, to the environment ministers, the presidents of environment councils and authorities, Inger Andersen, the Executive Director of UNEP, and Sami Dimassi, the Regional Director and Representative of UNEP in West Asia.
He stressed the importance of the meeting, which discussed issues of common interest across the countries of the region related to measures undertaken to protect the environment during the COVID-19 pandemic, and to present a roadmap for building back better after the pandemic.
Dr. Bin Dina gave a brief presentation on the fifth session of UNEA to which Bahrain currently holds the position of Vice-President.
He announced the theme of the fifth session of UNEA titled “Strengthening Actions for Nature to Achieve the Sustainable Development Goals”, which sheds light on the importance of protecting human, animal and environmental health and well-being through an integrated and comprehensive approach that prevents the spread of pandemics in the future.
During the meeting, the ministers adopted a joint ministerial statement confirming the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on human safety and the environment, and its negative impact on local, regional and global economies.
The ministers expressed their deep regret for the lives lost due to the spread of the Coronavirus in the world, noting that the pandemic has led to a remarkable increase in the production of waste in general, plastic in particular, at the national, regional and international levels.
The pandemic has also led to a decrease in investment in environmental and economic measures and activities that depend on environmental services due to the precautionary measures.
Participants in the meeting highlighted that environmental challenges remain a global, regional and national priority, especially when life returns to normalcy, and while governments adopt plans to stimulate economies that require the development and implementation of strategic policies to “build back better”, for a more innovative, comprehensive and environmentally sustainable social and economic development.
The meeting called for strengthening regional coordination, making efforts and exchanging knowledge and experiences, to work for a healthy environment for current and future generations. It also called on the UNEP Regional Office in West Asia to continue providing technical support and assistance to the countries of the region, especially those affected by crisis, to enhance the environmental dimension in their responses to the COVID-19 pandemic, achieve the sustainable development goals, and fulfill their obligations towards relevant multilateral environmental agreements.
Dimassi said “the ministerial meeting is particularly timely.”
“It is expected that the outcome of the meeting will send a clear and strong message from West Asia to the fifth session of the United Nations Environment Assembly, other Ministerial Fora and the international community on regional priorities, the efforts of the region in tackling environmental issues, and future plans after COVID-19 pandemic,” he said.
Source: Bahrain News Agency