HE the Minister of Municipality and Environment Mohamed bin Abdullah al-Rumaihi handed the presidency of the 29th session of the council of Arab ministers in charge of environment affairs, which started at the headquarters of the Arab League general secretariat, to the State of Kuwait, which is represented by Kuwait's Environment Public Authority (EPA) Chairman and Director General, Sheikh Abdullah Ahmad al-Humoud al-Sabah.
In his opening remarks, HE al-Rumaihi reaffirmed Qatar's keenness, under the wise leadership of His Higheness the Emir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani, to support the environment and sustainable development by giving them special attention.
He said the government's keenness is evident from the fact that this field has been designated as one of the pillars of Qatar's National Development Strategy, and noted that 18 countries, including Arab nations, have signed a foundation document in Doha on October 15 to establish the Global Dryland Alliance.
The Minister expressed the hope that the meeting's outcome will help in enhancing joint Arab action in the field of environment and sustainable development, boost the opportunities of co-operation in the environment field, and limit climate change.
HE al-Rumaihi reviewed Qatar's efforts during its presidency of the 28th session, and thanked the Arab League secretary general and staff for their efforts in this regard.
"I was honoured to chair the council this past year," he said, noting that the meeting is a proof of the pressing need for sustainable development and stressing the importance of implementing the decisions of the regular Arab summits in relation to the environment, the sustainable development initiative and the development and economic Arab summit decisions.
The minister added that Qatar had made great efforts during its presidency of the last session to preserve Arab interests and set priorities, notably the goals of sustainable development, combating desertification and biodiversity, and Arab action in climate change negotiations.
He also highlighted his efforts to invite Arab countries that did not sign the Arab environment facility in order to accelerate its ratification, praising at the same time the efforts that led to the establishment of the Arab Strategy for Disaster Risk Reduction 2030.
The meeting is set to discuss the agenda, which includes 27 items dealing with means of the implementing the decisions of the Arab economic and social development summits, especially in relation to inviting Arab countries that have signed the statute of the Arab environment facility but have not ratified it.
It also touched on the monitoring of nuclear pollution in border areas with Israel and its effects on the Arab region, in addition to following up on the collection of the results of radiological monitoring mechanisms in Arab countries that are near nuclear plants and reactors.
The ministers will also discuss following up on the implementation of the environmental dimension in the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 in the Arab region and invite Arab ministries of environment to intensify participation in the 2018 High-Level Political Forum on Sustainable Development, which will be held in New York under the theme "Transformation towards sustainable and resilient societies."
In addition, the meeting will discuss a draft resolution on environment and sustainable development indicators in the Arab region in the light of the recommendations of the Arab group on Environment and Sustainable Development Indicators.
The ministers will review the activities of relevant Arab organisations as well as regional and international organisations concerned with the environment, and the international conventions and meetings on the environment, including the Arab group on combating desertification and biodiversity.
They will also follow up on the international environment conventions on chemicals and hazardous wastes, prepare for the sessions of the United Nations Environment Program, and work to co-ordinate the Arab participation at these meetings that will take place in Nairobi in December.
The meeting will also discuss the environment situation in occupied Palestine and the occupied Syrian Golan as well as in Sudan, Somalia, Comoros, Djibouti, Libya, Jordan, Lebanon and Yemen.
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