Media Center

Press Release


  November 30, 2006

On the eve of a ministerial-level meeting to address the state of the environment in the Americas, governmental representatives and experts in environmental management, conservation and natural disaster risk reduction will meet on Sunday, December 3, in Santa Cruz de la Sierra, Bolivia, for a series of technical meetings and workshops. These meetings underscore the cooperation among the 34 countries of the Organization of American States (OAS) to advance practical actions in the area of sustainable development.

During the workshops, sponsored by the OAS, environmental experts, policymakers and civil society representatives will exchange information and explore opportunities for cooperation in promoting development that balances economic growth, social equity and environmental protection. The sessions will help lay the groundwork for the First Inter-American Meeting of Ministers and High-Level Authorities on Sustainable Development, which will take place in the same city December 4-5.

Sunday’s sessions will focus on the following areas: natural hazards risk reduction and natural disaster mitigation; environmental law; exchange of biodiversity information using the Internet; and recommendations developed by civil representatives to be presented to the ministerial meeting.

One session will focus on efforts undertaken through the Inter-American Network for Disaster Mitigation, a mechanism established by the OAS Department of Sustainable Development to promote the exchange of information and experiences among countries, with the goal of lessening the impact of natural disasters such as hurricanes or floods.

Experts will also study the progress being made in managing risks related to natural hazards – including long-term threats such as rising sea levels – and in developing national policies to address such concerns. The need to institute sound public policies is a major priority for the region, considering the devastating natural disasters witnessed in recent years and their lasting impact on countries’ economies. This meeting will also establish the basis for cooperation agreements among similar existing networks.

Another workshop on “Strengthening Environmental Law and Enforcement in the Americas” will take stock of priorities in this area, particularly in the context of international trade and economic integration. Participants will address the legal implications that arise from the interaction between trade growth and changes in the global ecosystem.

A third meeting will bring together data providers for the Inter-American Biodiversity Information Network (IABIN), an Internet-based initiative designed to promote the collection and exchange of information on plant and animal species, conservation efforts and related matters. Speakers will study the contributions of the IABIN – which grew out of Summit of the Americas process – in reaching sustainable development goals. Also in this panel, several Bolivian nongovernmental organizations will present case studies on community- based biodiversity management.

Meanwhile, the Meeting with Civil Society Organizations and Indigenous Peoples Representatives will provide an opportunity for these groups to present ideas and recommendations for the consideration of the ministers and high-level authorities who will meet on Monday and Tuesday. This initiative is aimed at strengthening and guaranteeing a wider participation of civil society in the policymaking process.

The parallel meetings all begin at 9:00 a.m. on Sunday, at Los Tajibos Hotel in Santa Cruz de la Sierra.

Reference: E-262/06