BEIJING, The member States of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO) are increasing their cooperation in the field of environmental protection, environmental safety, and prevention of negative consequences of climate change. This was stated by the SCO Secretary-General Vladimir Norov in an interview with TASS correspondent on the occasion of World Environment Day on Friday, June 05.
” Today , environmental issues have become one of the main components of economic models for the development of States, including the SCO member States, which have reached to concrete understandings on them,” Norov said. In accordance with the SCO Development Strategy 2025, the Organization’s countries have come to an understanding on the need to attach importance to cooperation in the field of environmental protection, environmental safety, and prevention of negative consequences of climate change. In order to implement the provisions of the Strategy, the SCO Summit held on 10 June 2018 in Qingdao adopted the Concept of Cooperation of the SCO Member States in the Field of Environmental Protection.
“The emergence of coronavirus infection,” Norov said, ” has shown that by destroying biodiversity, we are destroying the system that supports human life. While in some places nature has been cleared during quarantine, in others the burden on it has become greater: in some countries, garbage processing has been suspended, the amount of medical waste (disposable gloves and masks) has increased, and as a result of disinfection in cities, toxic substances have begun to enter the environment.”
“The emergence of a coronavirus infection has shown that by destroying biodiversity, we are destroying the system that supports human life. While in some places nature has cleaned up during this period of quarantine, in others it has become more worse: in some countries recycling of waste has been suspended, amount of medical waste (disposable gloves and masks) has increased, and as a result of disinfection in cities, toxic substances have begun to enter the environment”, Norov noted.
Cooperation in the SCO space
Based on the importance of preserving ecological balance in the SCO region and restoring biodiversity in the interests of future generations, ensuring favorable conditions for well-being of the population and sustainable development, the 19th meeting of the SCO Council of Heads of State in Bishkek on June 14, 2019 approved an Plan of Actionfor 2019-2021 for implementation of the Concept. The document contains a number of specific measures to strengthen coordination in the field of environmental protection, training of personnel, and the adoption of effective measures to ensure environmental safety and the preservation of biological diversity. Cooperation is envisaged in the field of waste management, including hazardous waste, promotion of “green” development in the SCO space, as well as exploring opportunities for creating a market for environmental services, products and technologies within the Organization.
Norov continued noting that so far 12 meetings of experts from ministries and departments of the SCO member States responsible for environmental protection have been held. During the first meeting of concerned heads of ministries and agencies of the SCO member States, held in Moscow in September 2019, the parties approved a draft Program for the development of the environmental well-being of SCO cities. The document was adopted during the meeting of the Council of Heads of Government of the SCO member States in November last year in Tashkent in order to establish practical cooperation, institutional development, development of joint projects and research on improving the environmental situation in cities, providing environmental services and introducing innovative technologies aimed at improving the environment.
Global nature of the problems
Over the past 150 years, Norov pointed out, the living cover of coral reefs has halved; glacial ice is melting at an astonishing rate, while acidification of oceans is increasing, threatening its biodiversity. Wild species are disappearing tens or hundreds of times faster than in the past 10 million years, and within the next 10 years, one out of every four known species could be wiped off the planet.
“I would also like to recall the Aral Sea problem. Modern reservoirs have many environmental problems. Experts say that many seas are in a difficult ecological state. But the Aral Sea is in a catastrophic state and could soon disappear. Over fifty years, the area of the reservoir has decreased by more than 6 times as a result of uncontrolled reclamation. A huge number of flora and fauna died. All these factors lead to a single conclusion: the ecosystem of the Aral Sea is dying,” the SCO Secretary-General said. Today, he continued, global environmental problems are among the most important and determine the level of well-being of the entire world civilization. Even the term ” global problems “has crystallized into a new concept of” “Global Commons” , which is discussed both in the UN format in the context of the Millennium Development Goals, and in various international forums.
“We believe it is appropriate to support World Environment Day at the international level. And if each of us considers it our duty to preserve what is given to us by nature, and also recognizes that we are responsible for the future of our planet, we will succeed in preserving our common home for future generations,” the SCO Secretary-General concluded.
The establishment of the Day and its purpose
World Environment Day was established by United Nations General Assembly resolution 2994 of 15 December 1972 to draw attention to environmental issues. It has been held annually since 1974.
The date was chosen because the first world environmental conference, the United Nations Conference on the Human Environment, opened in Stockholm in 1972 (113 States participated). In the same year, UNGA established the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP; United Nations Environment Programme; headquartered in Nairobi, capital of Kenya), the leading United Nations agency in the environmental field, under whose auspices the Day is held.
On World Environment Day, many countries organize street rallies and processions, bicycle races, concerts, essay or poster competitions on environmental themes in schools, tree planting, waste management and scavenging campaigns, and more. Each year, the Day is dedicated to a specific theme. The theme for 2020 is “Biological Diversity”.