Rio 2012: putting environmental emergencies on the global agenda
22 September, 2011
Mr Sha Zukang, UN Secretary General for next year’s Rio Conference on Sustainable Development, urged the humanitarian and environmental communities to work together in preparation for the Rio summit.
Environmental emergencies: strengthening the multilateral humanitarian and environmental response
Monday 12 – Thursday 15 September 2011 (WP1093)
Speaking at our meeting in Montreux, Mr Sha highlighted that environmental emergencies are increasingly recognised as a global challenge. The Rio Conference provides a once in a decade opportunity to strengthen the multi-lateral response to such disasters and reduce the risk of their occurrence.
Mr Sha Zukang is Under Secretary General of the UN and Secretary General for the 2012 UN Conference on Sustainable Development in Rio. He warned of the environmental consequences of disasters and noted their increased frequency and severity. He encouraged the humanitarian and environment communities to use the Rio Conference to strengthen the multi-lateral response in dealing with such disasters.
Disasters, whether natural or man-made often have environmental causes such as extreme weather events linked to climate change, or de-forestation, industrial accidents and marine pollution. Participants at our meeting identified lessons from experts involved in the responses to the 2010 Pakistan flooding and the Argentinian/Chilean volcano in early 2011. They highlighted the need to share scientific and environmental expertise, the value of regional co-operation and the need to strengthen international co-ordination and governance. More needs to be done to prevent environmental disasters before they occur as well as respond once disaster strikes.
This timely meeting took place with the back drop of the fire of the fuel pipeline in Nairobi which killed over 100 people, and the on-going flooding in Pakistan (Sindh Provence being the most affected area).
The Rio 2012 Conference provides opportunities for the humanitarian and environmental community, whether at local or international level and including NGOs, the private sector and scientists as well as affected communities to strengthen their ability to prevent and respond to disasters with environmental causes and/or impacts.