Official Opening of the Conference
Summary of the session
The Conference was opened by Mr. Viktor Yanukovych, Prime Minister of Ukraine and the Head of the National Organizing Committee for the Conference, who introduced the President.
The President of Ukraine, Mr. Leonid Kuchma, stressed the importance of making Europe secure for sustainable development and, as a result, secure for all of its inhabitants, regardless of their social status or wealth. Joining efforts, the countries of the region had a much better chance of overcoming environmental problems that posed a major threat to the global community that might be comparable, if not worse, than the threats of war and terrorism. He noted that the region had to work hard to implement the decisions of the World Summit on Sustainable Development and, in the coming months and years, the decisions of the Kiev Ministerial Conference. Mr. Kuchma wished the Conference participants fruitful work and a pleasant stay in Kiev.
Keynote addresses were delivered by Ms. Brigita Schmögnerová (UNECE) Executive Secretary, Ms. Margot Wallström, EC Commissioner for the Environment, and Ms. Vasso Papandreou, Minister for the Environment, Physical Planning and Public Works (Greece), representing the Greek EU Presidency and speaking on behalf of the European Union and the acceding countries.
Ms. Schmögnerová delivered a message to the Conference from the United Nations Secretary-General, Mr. Kofi Annan, in which he noted that the “Environment for Europe” process had become an important platform for dialogue and cooperation not only among Governments but also with international organizations, non-governmental organizations (NGOs) and the private sector. Its efforts over the years demonstrated the conviction that together, we could make a difference and build a better and greener world for future generations. Speaking in her capacity as Executive Secretary of UNECE, Ms. Schmögnerová added that the “Environment for Europe” process was indeed unique in the way it brought together not only the region’s Environment Ministers, but also international United Nations and non-United Nations organizations and many NGOs. The “Environment for Europe” process had proved to be a successful formula to promote environmental protection. The mere fact that this Conference was the fifth in a series of ministerial conferences was testimony to its value.
Ms. Wallström delivered a keynote address on behalf of the European Commission in which she noted that “Environment for Europe” was a voluntary coalition of countries, international organizations, financial institutions and civil society that integrated all actors in a framework that produced results. The “Environment for Europe” process in the enlarged Europe would help to keep up the environment dialogue with the countries of Eastern Europe, the Caucasus and Central Asia (EECCA).
Ms. Papandreou spoke on behalf of the European Union and the acceding countries, and the associated countries Romania and Turkey aligned themselves with this statement. She stressed that the Kiev Conference was the first ministerial conference on the environment in the pan-European region since the Johannesburg World Summit on Sustainable Development and that it provided a unique opportunity for developing new and reinforcing existing forms of cooperation for environmental protection, sustainable development, peace and security within the wider European region.
Mr. Vasyl Shevchuk (Ukraine), Chair, Minister of Environment and Natural Resources, also welcomed the delegations. He noted that the “Environment for Europe” process was of major importance for ensuring harmony between human society and natural environments and, after four conferences and ten years, it had produced major results. This fifth Conference was attended by 1170 delegates from 51 countries and about 30 of the most influential international organizations and entities.
The Conference adopted its agenda as submitted by the Ad Hoc Working Group of Senior Officials.