Highlights & Events
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30 May, 2008
Greece, although a minor contributor to pollution of the planet, is a frontsman in the global mobilisation and dialogue to help poorer and more vulnerable populations affected by the climate changes, foreign minister Dora Bakoyannis said on Thursday, opening a two-day International Conference on "Climate Change and Human Security", organised under Greece's chairmanship of the Human Security Network (HSN).
Greece's chairmanship, assumed in May 2007 at the 9th HSN Ministerial Meeting in Ljubljana, ends Friday, and the 11th Chairmanship will be decided that day at the 10th Ministerial Meeting in Athens.
Bakoyannis noted that the poorer countries, and chiefly the children and women living in those countries, were particularly vulnerable to climate changes.
For example, she said, the rise in global temperatures facilitates the geographical spread of malaria, which kills one million people each year, of which 80 percent are children up to five years old, according to UN figures, while women, who work hard in farming and at home, are more affected than men.
Another consequence of climate change on human security is the movement of populations, she said, noting that the UN High Commission for Refugees estimates that 24 million people around the world have relocated due to environmental factors.
Turning to the Greek foreign ministry's activities, and reviewing the Greek chairmanship of the Human Security Netowrk, Bakoyannis has turned the focus of Developmental Cooperation and Assistance to the relief of those populations, through enhancing their adaptation, and through the mass transfer of "green know-how" to the developing world.
The minister further noted that Greece, at European level and via its prime minister Costas Karamanlis, was one of the countries that openly endorsed a unilateral commitment on the part of the European Union to reduce pollutant emissions by 20 percent by the year 2020.
Stressing the need for International Cooperation -- addressing herself to the representatives of international organisations and foreign delegations present at the conference -- Bakoyannis warned that global warming cannot be faced by any country individually, and that achievement of a global agreement hoped to be reached at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen in 2009 irequired the participation and commitment of everyone.
Also addressing the meeting, Greek deputy minister of the environment Pavlos Kaloyannis assured that Greece would meet the targets set out by the Kyoto Protocol.
He also appealed for a change in attitude on the party of everyone, explaining that even small changes in our daily lives can, without altering the quality of life, result in tangible results in improvement of the environment.
Citizen awareness is necessary in order to change the ethos, he said. "As citizens of the planet, each and everyone of us must know our limits," Kaloyannis added.
World Meteoroligical Organisation (WMO, the UN authoritative agency on weather, climate and water resources) secretary general Michel Jarraud presented a series of charts and graphs showing the dramatic magnitude of climate change resulting from the melting of the Arctic ice pack in the space of just two years (2005-2007), and urged that the new climate date be utilised in the decision-taking.
Jarraud also wared that the early warning system on natural disasters was particularly utile, adding that if it had been used, the repercussions of many such disasters could have been curtailed or even completely avoided.
The WMO chief, too, appealed for international cooperation, stressing that no single country whatsoever could act alone.
UNESCO Goodwill Ambassador Marianna Vardinoyanni (of Greece), outlined the initiatives taken by Greece during its year at the helm of the Human Security Network, adding that those initiatives "put Greece among the leading countries in the global mobilisation and global dialogue on this immense issue".
The morning session ended with an address by John Powell, deputy executive director of the UN's World Food Program (WFP), the world's largest humanitarian agency, which in 2007 alone provided food assistance to 73 million people in 78 countries, most of them women and children.
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