Environment Ministers define G8 talking points

Sat, 04/25/2009 - 03:08

Group of Eight environment ministers on Friday agreed on a set of measures regarding climate change, biodiversity and the 'green economy' in the final document of an environment meeting here that will be discussed by leaders at the main G8 summit in July.

Italian Environment Minister Stefania Prestigiacomo said she was ''extremely satisfied'' with the outcome of the three-day meet, which ended Friday in the Sicilian city of Siracusa.

''We have defined in a clear and frank manner the principles on which the heads of state will have to spend time at July's G8,'' she said.

Prestigiacomo said ministers had agreed on the need for ''urgent actions'' on climate change and had set out five issues to be thrashed out by G8 leaders: short and mid-term targets, long-term targets, comparison of efforts between countries, financing and international governance.

''The G8 environment summit did not take decisions because it's not our place, but the fact that we have written the (five points) in black and white represents a very important step forward on the road to the United Nations climate conference in Copenhagen in December,'' she said.

G8 ministers as well as those from major developing nations meanwhile signed the so-called Siracusa Charter to try to slow the rate of species loss.

Prestigiacomo said ministers were ''convinced'' of the need to persuade heads of state to take urgent action to safeguard biodiversity and had agreed there was a ''need to redefine post-2010 bioversity objectives immediately''.

The meeting's final outcome document also included points on the 'green economy', which Prestigiacomo described as ''a new sector that can open spaces on the market and create jobs''.

''In July we will push a strong message so that the G8 anticrisis plans are coloured green and that there are investments in the protection of the environment,'' she said.

Ministers also agreed on the need to support developing countries by sharing technology for low carbon economies, according to Prestigiacomo.

The document includes an appeal for countries to safeguard children's health, specifically their ''birth, growth, development and prosperity in an environment with clean air and water, food security and minimal exposure to harmful chemical agents''.

Among concrete actions recommended by the charter are eliminating lead from paint and fuel and collaborating on research into children's health and the environment, including the impact of chemical agents, heavy metals and climate change.

Environmental group WWF said the meet had made ''positive'' steps in biodiversity and driving anticrisis measures towards the green economy but said no progress had been made on climate change.

''Identifying the main themes for discussion is really doing very little,'' the WWF said.