Good environmental governance and sustainable development – central elements of the economic and environmental dimension of the OSCE’s comprehensive approach to security – are the focus of the two-day 1st Preparatory Meeting of the 24th OSCE Economic and Environmental Forum, which opened yesterday in Vienna. High-level officials, experts and key stakeholders from the OSCE’s 57 participating States and 11 Partners for Co-operation, and representatives of the business community, international organizations, civil society and academia are discussing how good environmental governance in the OSCE area helps to reinforce security and stability. In his opening remarks, the Chairperson of the Permanent Council, Ambassador Eberhard Pohl, representing Germany’s 2016 OSCE Chairmanship, stated that “the prerequisite to preserve and share natural resources in a globalized world is co-operation. The OSCE, with its broad approach to security, and its second dimension in particular, can contribute substantially to understanding and tackling this task.”
Ambassador Pohl emphasized that promoting good governance includes aspects such as the rule of law, the accountability of the public sector and high-quality legislation in environmental matters. OSCE Secretary General Lamberto Zannier stressed that “creating and sustaining an enabling environment for a vocal civil society, an informed and responsive public, and efficient institutions for sound management of the environment and natural resources, will continue to be our priority in the OSCE.” The Co-ordinator of OSCE Economic and Environmental Activities, Yurdakul Yigitguden, welcomed efforts to strengthen OSCE engagement with the private sector. “I see countless opportunities for business to contribute to sustainable development through commitment to seeking shared value and through commitments to environmental compliance and innovation.” “We must find new and better ways to counter the externalization of costs that stem from the exploitation of natural resources, within societies but also among world regions,” said former Executive Director of the UN Environmental Programme and former German Federal Minister for the Environment Klaus Töpfer in his keynote speech.
“Shifting the burden of resource exploitation on others has always been a source of tensions and conflict. In that way, sustainable development is the new name for peace.” He stated that “the OSCE and its participating States have a strong and responsible position to signal that negotiations on sustainability issues are reflected in real action. “ Helge Wendenburg, Director General for Water Management and Resource Conservation at the German Federal Ministry for the Environment pointed to the risks of climate change and the importance of the Sustainable Development Goals adopted at the UN Sustainable Development Summit last year. “We need to stand up for good governance. Only then sustainable development can be promoted and environmental standards correctly implemented.”
A Second Preparatory Meeting will be convened in Berlin on 19-20 May and a Concluding Meeting will be held in Prague on 14-16 September.