Manama-Beirut, 25 November 2010

The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has announced a regional consultation meeting for civil society organizations in West Asia region, to be held in Beirut on 30 November and 1 December, in cooperation with the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED). The meeting will group some 35 representatives of civil society bodies from 11 countries.

Habib Habr, UNEP’s Regional Director and Representative in West Asia, explained that “as part of its mandate, UNEP aims to catalyse action to protect the environment through enhanced engagement and collaboration with a multitude of major groups actors who share the same purpose around the world.” This strategy is based on engagement at the policy level to take into account expertise and views of major groups at the intergovernmental level, and on the programming level in implementation of UNEP’s work programme. As such, UNEP has an ongoing cooperation and collaboration with civil society organisations in all regions of the world.

On an annual basis, UNEP convenes the Global Major Groups and Stakeholders Forum (GMGSF), the Twelfth Session of which will be held from 19-20 February 2011, prior to the 26th Session of the UNEP Governing Council and Global Ministerial Environment Forum (GC26/GMEF) which will take place from 21-25 February 2011, in Nairobi, Kenya, where UNEP’s headquarters is located. Main objective of the GMGSF is to provide a platform for exchange and consultation on key environmental issues to be addressed by the member states during the GC/GMEF, and to facilitate Major Groups contribution to the GC/GMEF and other international environmental forums.

The Beirut meeting is one of six consultations held around the world to prepare for the global meeting in February, to ensure that regional perspectives are presented and discussed. In addition to discussing the three major themes that will be discussed at UNEP’s Governing Council: International Environmental Governance, Green Economy and Sustainable Consumption and Production, the meeting will discuss preparations for Rio+20 and accreditation of NGOs to UNEP.

A professional training module is also being provided by AFED on programming, fundraising and lobbying techniques for civil society. AFED’s Secretary General Najib Saab described UNEP as a “pioneer international organization in respect of engaging civil society in its policy making and programs, at the highest levels.” Saab hoped that the AFED-led capacity building workshop, the second organized in connection with UNEP regional consultation, will boost the capabilities of Arab NGOs and enhance their performance.

Mr. El-Habr said the main outcome of the meeting will be the development of a regional statement from civil society in the West Asia region to the GMGSF, and also the selection of two representatives from the region to participate in the GMGSF in Nairobi next February.

The opening ceremony, to be held at Le Bristol Hotel at 9:00 am Tuesday, 30 November, will be addressed by Minister of Environment Mr. Mohammad Rahhal, UNEP’s Regional Director and Representative Mr. Habib El-Habr and AFED’s Secretary General Mr. Najib Saab. The sessions thereafter will be limited to invited organizations.

For further information:

Ms. Michella Bou Nader
Tel : +961 1 321800
Email :