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AFED conference recommends greening the economy and providing refugees with education and training: Peace and security pre-requisite for sustainable development 15/11/2016
The Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) issued on Monday the recommendations of its annual conference, which concluded in the weekend. The international event was held last week at the American University of Beirut (AUB), as part of its 150th Anniversary. The conference discussed challenges facing the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), with the participation of 500 delegates from 58 countries, representing 170 institutions from the public and private sectors and academia, civil society and 52 students from Arab universities who are members in AFED’s Future Environment Leaders Forum (FELF). 48 speakers took part in 10 sessions, which covered finance, climate change, food security, education, health and development challenges in war and conflict zones.
 
The conference kicked off Thursday with an opening ceremony addressed by AUB President Dr. Fadlo Khuri, AFED Board Chairman Dr. Adnan Badran, and Secretary General Najib Saab.
 
The conference agreed with the findings of AFED report on Sustainable Development in a Changing Arab Climate, specifically pertaining to the need for a transition to a green economy and the integration of sustainable development principles in the reconstruction plans.
 
A committee selected by the delegates issued the recommendations, taking into account discussions of the conference, including proposals submitted by civil society and FELF students.
 
The recommendations called for the promotion of peace and security as a prerequisite to achieving sustainable development in the Arab region, stating that “restoration of political stability is urgently needed in order to establish a post-conflict environment conducive to the achievement of the SDGs, as much as inclusive development is required for sustained political stability.”
 
They endorsed a long-term vision and strategy with sequenced priorities for implementation aimed at transitioning Arab economies onto a green and sustainable path, as a means to revitalize and diversify economies to low-carbon and climate-resilient ones, promote competitiveness and access to international markets, create new employment opportunities, eradicate poverty and improve the environment and human welfare.
 
Enhancing local capacities by investing in human resources and institutional capacity building received firm attention. “This includes reviewing the educational curricula to cover formal and vocational training, training the trainers programs, and adopting an education culture that promotes innovative and critical thinking, research and development.” They also called for the strengthening of regional coordination and cooperation among Arab countries in the implementation of development strategies and priorities, particularly to achieve water-food-energy security based on the nexus approach.
 
Integration of civil society organizations in all aspects of development planning and implementation was stressed, calling at the same time upon NGOs to engage in sustained voluntary work in support of the implementation of the SDGs.
 
The conference called for the introduction of measures to greening the financial sector with emphasis laid on encouraging small and medium size enterprises to invest in green and sustainable projects, and promote green bonds/Sukuk as a means to generate additional financial resources to fund green projects, with emphasis on tapping public and private local and regional funds. It endorsed measures aimed at phasing out environmentally damaging subsidies, while ensuring that this does not negatively affect middle and low income families.
 
Addressing the influx of the refugees and displaced, the conference emphasized the need for special measures in countries receiving incoming refugees from neighboring countries experiencing armed conflict and turmoil. The objective would be meeting their urgent needs in the interim period, and providing them with adequate education and training to allow them to be productive elements, thus preparing them to be integrated in the economic and social fabric of their own countries when they return back.
 
 
PHOTO CAPTION: Najib Saab discussing recommendations in the closing ceremony.
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
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