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8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference - Greener, Cleaner, Smarter!

8-10 June 2016 | Batumi, Georgia

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Daily Web CoverageAbout | 8 Jun | 9 Jun | 10 Jun | Summary

Heads of delegation posed for a family photo during the first day of the
8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference

L-R: Nino Sharashidze, UNECE Secretariat; Angela Sochirca, UNECE Secretariat; Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE; Chair Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia; Zaal Lomtadze, UNECE Secretariat; and Oksana Rott, UNECE Secretariat


Highlights for Wednesday, 8 June 2016

The Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference opened on Wednesday, 8 June 2016, in Batumi, Georgia. The meeting convened under the theme ‘Greener, Cleaner, Smarter!’

In the morning, Prime Minister Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Georgia, welcomed participants to the Conference, underscoring the importance of the EfE process as a platform for international cooperation on environmental issues and Georgia's commitment to a green economy and sustainable development. Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UN Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE), called for the EfE process to continue to reach tangible achievements to help implement the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and take bold decisions at this Conference on the proposed Batumi Initiative on the Green Economy (BIG-E) and the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA). Ambassador Tomáš Pernický, Czech Republic, said the SDGs provide an opportunity for common ground for EfE activities. Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), highlighted the second UN Environment Assembly’s (UNEA-2) resolutions on inclusive green economy and air quality and called on EfE participants to take actions to tackle air pollution and foster a green economy.

In the morning and afternoon, a plenary session and interactive discussion took place on ‘The environment dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development: moving forward in the pan-European region.’ During discussion, participants focused on: cross-cutting issues; education, water and health; responsible consumption and production; and industry, innovation and infrastructure, among other topics.

Participants also addressed, ‘Keeping the pan-European environment under review,’ including a discussion of progress in establishing the Shared Environmental Information System (SEIS) in support of regular reporting in the pan-European region and key findings and policy messages of the European regional assessment of the Sixth Global Environment Outlook (GEO-6).

In the evening, participants attended a reception and cultural event at the State Musical Centre of Batumi, hosted by the Government of Georgia.

IISD Reporting Services, through its ENB+ Meeting Coverage, has provided daily reports, daily digital coverage and a summary report from the 8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference. Our summary report is available in HTML or PDF format.
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+ Visit the web coverage for Wednesday, 8 June 2016

Opening of the Conference
Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister, Georgia
Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE
Archil Khabadze, Chairman, Government of the Autonomous Republic of Ajara, Georgia
Ambassador Tomáš Pernický, Czech Republic
Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP
L-R: Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE; Giorgi Kvirikashvili, Prime Minister, Georgia; and Chair Gigla Agulashvili,
Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia

The Environment Dimension of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development Moving Forward in the Pan-European Region
Ibrahim Thiaw, Deputy Executive Director, UNEP, moderated the session
Giannis Tsironis, Alternate Minister of Environment, Greece
Chair Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia
Delegates celebrated 20 years of successful implementation of the ECE Environmental Performance Review Programme

Keeping the Pan-European Environment Under Review
John Matuszak, US
Guenter Liebel, Director General of the Federal Ministry of Agriculture, Forestry, Environment and Water Management of Austria, presented on SEIS and air quality
Inga Podoroghin, State Secretary of Environment of Republic of Moldova, presented on SEIS and the green economy’
Marat Anuarov, Ministry of Energy of Kazakhstan, presented on ‘Opportunities, Challenges and Priorities on the Road Towards 2030, Including Monitoring of SDGs’
Launch of Regional Assessment GEO-6
Jan Dusík, Director, Regional Office for Europe, UNEP
Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE
Matthew Billot, UNEP Regional Office for Europe

Highlights for Thursday, 9 June 2016

The Eighth Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference reconvened on Thursday, 9 June 2016, in Batumi, Georgia.

In the morning, a plenary session took place on greening the economy in the pan-European region. Bertrand Piccard, Aviation Pioneer and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, via live video-link, described his round-the-world flight on the airplane Solar Impulse, demonstrating the potential of solar energy. In a keynote address, Graeme Maxton, Secretary General, the Club of Rome, and author, explained how the current economic system ignores externalities and increases unemployment, inequalities and negative impacts on the Earth and atmosphere. Participants then endorsed the Pan-European Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy and adopted the Batumi Initiative on Green Economy (BIG-E). A total of 36 countries and organizations submitted voluntary commitments to the BIG-E.

Participants then convened in two parallel sessions of a multi-stakeholder roundtable on greening the economy in the pan-European region. The roundtables focused on green economy opportunities and challenges; paths to sustainability; green incentives; and cooperation.

In the afternoon, plenary addressed air quality and human health. Participants heard three keynote addresses, which focused on national actions to address air pollution, the burden air pollution places on both health and national economies and an example of an integrated management framework to address air pollution. Participants then endorsed the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA).

Delegates then participated in two parallel sessions of a multi-stakeholder roundtable on air quality and human health. The roundtables addressed pollutants and policies; sectors and funding; public awareness and participation; and cooperation.

+ Visit the web coverage for Thursday, 9 June 2016

Group photo of children and heads of delegation celebrating the launch of the Batumi Initiative on Clean Air (BACA) to remind all of the commitment to the future generations so that they can breathe fresh air and live in a healthy environment.
Bertrand Piccard, Aviation Pioneer and Solar Energy Champion, and UNEP Goodwill Ambassador, addressed participants during
a stopover in New York. He is flying around the Earth to demonstrate the potential of solar renewable energy.
Cristiana Pasca Palmer, Minister of Environment, Waters and Forests, Romania, delivered a keynote address on greening the economy
Andrei Kovkhuto, Minister of Natural Resources and Environment, Belarus, delivered a keynote address on greening the economy
Alexandra Carvalho, Secretary-General of Environment, Portugal, presented the Pan-European Strategic Framework for Greening the Economy on behalf of the Chair of the Committee on Environmental Policy
A slide from Alexandra Carvalho’s presentation

Participants signing their commitments to the BIG-E

Group photo of the BIG-E stakeholders at the end of the morning session

Multi-stakeholder Roundtable on Greening the Economy
Delegates during parallel session 1
Participants during parallel session 2

Improving Air Quality for a Better Environment and Human Health
Zsuzsanna Jakab, Regional Director for Europe, World Health Organization (WHO), delivered a keynote address
Nino Khatiskatsi, Deputy Mayor, Tbilisi, delivered a keynote address
Jan Olssen, Environment Ambassador, Sweden, presenting the Batumi Action for Cleaner Air (BACA)

Local youth representatives delivered gifts and balloons to countries
that committed to actions on clean air during a BACA launching ceremony

Highlights for Friday, 10 June 2016

In the morning, participants heard reports on the outcomes of the discussion on the thematic sessions.

On the green economy, Marc Chardonnens, State Secretary for the Environment, Director, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland, reported on key messages, including: the need for strong political will to overcome challenges; support for natural resource accounting, regular review and long term analysis; inter-ministerial and cross-sectoral integration into legal frameworks and mechanisms; deployment of ESD and increased public awareness to decouple economic growth from environmental degradation; provision of public funding to leverage and scale up market based instruments and removal of harmful subsidies; and identification of the significance of the water, food and energy nexus.

On air quality and human health, Maria Krautzberger, President, German Environment Agency, observed that participants recognized the significant economic impacts of air pollution, including on human health and agricultural productivity, and that, in spite of progress, serious challenges remain to be addressed. She highlighted particulate matter, nitrogen oxide, ground-level ozone, methane, black carbon, and greenhouse gases (GHGs) as the main pollutants. She identified transport, energy, residential wood burning and agriculture as the main sectors that are sources of pollutants.

Participants then adopted the Batumi Ministerial Declaration by acclamation. Many welcomed the Ministerial Declaration and praised pan-European cooperation. The Netherlands, on behalf of the EU and its Member States, called for implementation and action to achieve tangible results and underscored the role of the 2030 Agenda and the Paris Agreement to provide renewed momentum for action in the UNECE region. UNEP described the BIG-E as an unprecedented commitment and an example to the world. The US urged countries to prioritize efforts to address air quality and incorporate them into development planning.

During a closing session, UNECE Executive Secretary Bach described the Eighth EfE Conference as the culmination of five years of joint work since the Seventh EfE in Astana. He reflected that the EfE process has played a role in translating the SDGs into concrete policies, actions and plans and expressed hope that the process will also contribute to follow-up and review of the 2030 Agenda. Bach concluded by thanking Georgia for its warm hospitality and all participants. Chair Agulashvili thanked participants and praised the Conference results, expressing hope that their implementation will contribute to achieving the SDGs and enabling future generations to live in a healthy environment.

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A view of the room from the stage
Chair Marc Chardonnens, State Secretary for the Environment, Director, Federal Office for the Environment, Switzerland, reported on the green economy segment
Maria Krautzberger, President, German Federal Environment Agency, reported on the air quality segment
Shamil Huseynov, Azerbaijan
John Matuszak, US
Maria Silina, European Eco Forum
Edwin Koning, the Netherlands
The youngest delegates at the 8th EfE Ministerial Conference
Nodirjon Yunusov, Uzbekistan
Elena Vasilyeva, European Eco Forum
Vladimir Ivlev, the Russian Federation
Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE, delivered final remarks
Chair Gigla Agulashvili, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources Protection, Georgia, closed the meeting at 1:04 pm.
Members of the UNECE Secretariat and the Host Country Secretariat posed for a family photo after the conclusion of the meeting.
L-R: Catherine Wahlén, ENB Writer; Tasha Goldberg, ENB Writer; Christian Friis Bach, Executive Secretary, UNECE; Diego Noguera,
ENB Digital Editor; and Laura Russo, ENB Writer
Daily Web CoverageAbout | 8 Jun | 9 Jun | 10 Jun | Summary
Specific funding for coverage of the 8th Environment for Europe Ministerial Conference,
has been provided by Environment for Europe