Erdan elected vice chairman of Rio+20 summit
193 countries expected to sign far-reaching declaration; Erdan is leading a 66-member Israeli delegation to the conference.
Gilad Erdan tours Samarian communities Photo: Courtesy Environmental Protection Ministry
Environmental Protection Minister Gilad Erdan was on Thursday unanimously
elected vice chairman of the ongoing Rio+20 United Nations Conference on
Sustainable Development, in what his ministry called “a diplomatic achievement
Erdan is leading a 66-member Israeli delegation to the
conference, where a three-day, high-level summit ends on Friday.
two weeks overall, the conference marks two decades since the previous Rio de
Janeiro climate summit, the 1992 UN Conference on Environment and Development,
as well as the 10th anniversary of the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable
Development in Johannesburg. Approximately 50,000 people and 130 heads state are
attending the events.
“My choice is a recognition of Israel’s ability and
an appreciation of its contributions to the world in the efficient use of
resources and dealing with hunger, food security and water scarcity,” Erdan
said, in a statement released by his office. “All this by means of technological
innovation and Israeli experience.”
Erdan’s candidacy was presented by
the “Western Group” at the conference, which includes Western European nations,
the United States, Canada, Australia and Turkey, and was adopted unanimously by
the 193 UN member-states.
“The election of Minister Erdan constitutes a
diplomatic achievement for Israel and recognizes its contributions to
sustainable development and environment in the world,” the ministry
Before the high-level summit, the Israeli delegation held two
official side events, about sustainable agriculture and water management. In
addition to leading these and partaking in multilateral discussions, the
representatives were heavily involved in negotiations over the Rio Declaration,
or Zero Document, whose final discussions were occurring right before the
The Rio Declaration is a consensus paper among 193 countries
dealing with the subjects of food security, water, energy, sustainable
consumption and green jobs, as well as social issues such as gender and
generational equality and parity among developed and developing countries,
Environment Ministry senior deputy director- general of planning and
sustainability Galit Cohen told The Jerusalem Post in an interview before she
left for Brazil.
Stressing the importance of environmental protection on
a global, cross-cultural scale, members of the Council of Religious Institutions
of the Holy Land endorsed a statement on sustainable development directed at
political leaders and Rio+20 participants, the Interfaith Center for Sustainable
Development announced on Thursday.
The council, which represents the
Chief Rabbinate, the Palestinian Authority’s Ministry of Religious (Wakf)
Affairs and Shari’a Courts, and the assembly of the Heads of Churches of
Jerusalem, stressed in its statement the need for “action posed by the
environmental challenges facing humanity.”
The statement urges members of
the three Abrahamic faiths “to address this crisis by undertaking a deep
reassessment of our spiritual and physical relationship to this Godgiven planet
and how we consume, use and dispose of its blessed resources.”
with the Post at the Presidential Conference in Jerusalem on Thursday, Keren
Kayemeth LeIsrael-Jewish National Fund chairman Efi Stenzler expressed optimism
about the progress of the Rio summit. Particularly, he hoped that KKL-JNF’s
efforts in the Israeli delegation, where it presented a learning workshop, would
“We know they are doing tremendous work with many
countries, some of whom do not have diplomatic relations with Israel,” Stenzler
said, stressing the importance of teaching forestation and water reuse skills to
Planting trees in the desert, he explained, can be a
“medicine against global warming,” and he expressed confidence that the
delegates in Rio were doing a great job transmitting this message, as well as
that of recycling water, to representatives from across the world.
not only the Third World countries – the developed countries also should be
aware of the water that they are losing every year,” Stenzler said.