Ministers in Asia to discuss pressing environmental concerns - UN agency

18 March 2004 – Delivering safe and sufficient water to over 1 billion people and providing better sanitation services for nearly 2.5 billion take centre stage at international talks in the Republic of Korea at the end of the month, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) announced today.

Dust storms, the growing number of "dead zones" in the world's seas and oceans, and human settlements, including air pollution in so-called mega cities, will also be among the issues facing delegates attending the Global Ministerial Environment Forum and the Special Session of UNEP's Governing Council on the island of Jeju.

UNEP Executive Director Klaus Toepfer said it was right for Asia to host the event because, with the continent's economic growth now a major factor in the global economy, resources and responsibility must shift commensurately to address the environmental legacy that is being created.

"The historical pattern of development in the economies of Europe, North America and Japan was to industrialize first and clean up later. Such outdated thinking is not possible in a world of 6 billion people and counting," Mr. Toepfer said in a news release in Nairobi. "We need to marry strong economic growth with conservation of the air, land and water supplies upon which we all depend."

Nearly 100 ministers and delegations from over 120 countries are expected to attend the GMEF, beginning 29 March. Also attending will be Anna Tibaijuka, Executive Director of UN-HABITAT, the agency mandated by the General Assembly to promote socially and environmentally sustainable towns and cities, with the goal of providing adequate shelter for all.

Related Stories