As the date draws near to the annual conference of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) in Beirut on 19-20 November, more international and Arab leading environmental figures are confirming their participation, which has required doubling the original space reserved for the conference in Emirates Hall at Al Habtoor Grand, and continuing to accept participation requests long after the original deadline.
Among those participating is Dr. Mostafa Kamal Tolba, former Executive Director of the United Nations Programme for the Environment who was the driving force behind the original climate change treaty, Dr. Farouk El-Baz, Director of the Center of Remote Sensing at Boston University, Mr. Suleiman Al-Herbish, Director General of the OPEC Fund for International Development (OFID) and Dr. Mohamed El-Ashry, former head of the Global Environment Facility (GEF) and member of the International Committee on Climate Change and Sustainable Development. In addition, a large number of Arab and international scientists and researchers will be participating, among them Dr. Atiq Rahman, recipient of the UNEP ‘Champion of the Earth 2008’ award and Chairman of the Climate Action Network South Asia (CANSA), Dr. Youba Sokona, Executive Secretary of the Sahel and Sahara Observatory and Ms. Carol Sanford, CEO of Development Economics Group International.
Ministers from the Arab region and abroad have also confirmed their participation in a debate on policies regarding climate change, including President of the Executive Board of the Council of Arab Ministers of Environment Prince Turki Bin Nasser, President of the Royal Advisory Committee on the Energy Sector in Jordan Prince Hamzah bin al Hussein, Minister of Environment of Iraq Narmeen Osman, Minister of Environment of Jordan Khaled Irani, Minister of Water and Environment of Yemen Abdulrahman El-Ariani, Minister of Environment of UAE Rashed Bin Fahd and former Jordanian Prime Minister Dr. Adnan Badran. In addition, the Danish Secretary of State for Climate and Energy Thomas Egebo will present a report on the ongoing preparations for the upcoming United Nations Climate Change Conference next month in Copenhagen. Several closed sessions between the participating ministers and officials will take place alongside the conference in preparation for the Copenhagen Summit.
A delegation of the parliamentary block of the Green Party of Tunisia, an AFED civil society member, is also participating in the conference. The Green Party for Progress recently won six seats in the Tunisian parliamentary elections, to become the first Arab party to join parliament under an environmental platform.
The conference will witness two major events; first, the launching of the long anticipated report prepared by AFED on the impact of climate change in Arab countries, and expected to be the most comprehensive document on the subject published on the eve of the United Nations Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen, and the announcement of the results of the first public opinion survey conducted in 19 Arab countries on climate change.
Also during the conference, the landmark documentary entitled “Wet & Dry” will be released for the first time, summarizing the findings of AFED’s 2009 annual report.
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