Address by the UN Under-Secretary-General Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Ms Olga Algayerova, at the 9th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference

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Address by the UN Under-Secretary-General Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Commission for Europe, Ms Olga Algayerova, at the 9th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference

It is a great honor and pleasure for me to address you in the beautiful city of Nicosia, in this conference center whose name – Filoxenia (hospitality) – reflects so well the nature and character of the inhabitants of this ancient land.

I welcome the great interest aroused by this Ninth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference, for which my organization – the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe – has the privilege of providing the secretariat; and the preparation of which brought together our trusted partners – UNEP, UNESCO, UNWTO and others.

Today’s Ministerial Conference is the ninth since the Environment for Europe process began 31 years ago, when the political map of our region was quite different. The Environment for Europe process began in the region still sharply divided along social, economic, and political lines, with the vision and hope of contributing to healing these divisions. And it succeeded! By offering countries a forum for closer regional cooperation on environmental issues it delivered important products and outcomes – just to name a few: 

  • The ECE programme on Environmental Monitoring and Assessment and the one on Environmental Performance Reviews; 
  • The Pan-European Biological and Landscape Diversity Strategy; 
  • The Convention on Access to Information, Public Participation in Decision-making and Access to Justice in Environmental Matters (Aarhus Convention; 
  • The Pan-European Strategy to Phase-out Leaded Petrol; 
  • The ECE Strategy for Education for Sustainable Development; 
  • Several Protocols to the UNECE Conventions – Air Convention, Espoo Convention, Aarhus Convention, Water Convention; 
  • The Environment Strategy for Eastern European, Caucasian and Central Asian countries; 
  • The Framework Convention on the Protection and Sustainable Development of the Carpathians; Astana Water Action; 
  • Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA); 
  • Batumi Initiative on Greening the Economy (BIG-E); 

It is so painful to recognize that our region is once again facing another divisive and tragic crisis: the war in Ukraine, which devastation to the lives of so many people. This war also puts regional cooperation mechanisms like the Environment for Europe to the test. Will we be able to pursue common goals, whether global or regional, sectoral or cross-cutting, in such circumstances? 

The Nicosia Conference must answer these questions. I hope the answer will be clear and unequivocal: YES, we have common goals, and YES, we are able to cooperate to achieve them together. The Environment for Europe process has done this in the past and can do so in the future if we act – together.

In our current context, the word “together” indeed has several meanings so cleverly evoked in the colorful logo of the Nicosia Conference. Today in this room are – together – the distinguished representatives of the environment and education sectors; There are – together – delegates from Europe, Asia, Africa, and America (and I would particularly like to greet the representatives of these countries and regions who have come to cooperate with us today); there are – together – governmental and non-governmental professionals; there are – together – those who saw and even contributed to the Dobris Conference in 1991, and the young people who were born decades later. If the Environment for Europe process can bring together so many different people, surely, we should be able to continue it – yes, together.

Finally, I would like to warmly thank the generous and hospitable hosts of our Conference, the people and the Government of Cyprus, and all the great colleagues of the Host Country Secretariat who have put so much efforts in organizing Nicosia Conference. We look forward to continued fruitful cooperation with Cyprus, the competent chair of the UNECE Steering Committee on Education for Sustainable Development. 
Distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen,

I wish you – us – the success of the Conference. Our region needs this process, needs it to be successful, and we are going to meet these expectations. Together.

Thank you for your kind attention.

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