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EnviroCities 2012 conference kicks off in Madinah

The Governor of the Madinah Region, Prince Abdulaziz bin Majed bin Abdulaziz, inaugurated the third international conference, EnviroCities 2012, under the title “Climate Change: The Role of Cities” Monday night. The event was attended by 500 delegates including leading figures in the field from around the world, as well as local government officials, practitioners and specialists.
“After winning the Environmental Management Applications Award, the Madinah Municipality is hosting the conference organized in collaboration with Dubai Municipality and the Environmental Center for Arab Towns from Dec. 3 – 5 at Le Meridien Madinah Hotel under the aegis of Prince Mansour bin Miteb, minister of Municipal and Rural Affairs,” said Said Khalid Abdul Gader Taher, the mayor of Madinah in his speech.
He said “the conference aims at improving the environmental situation in Arab cities, especially with the current challenges facing these cities. The Conference offers the delegates a distinctive forum for exchanging ideas and discussing the role of cities in climate change, including strategies and initiatives across the region.
He described climate change as a global phenomenon. He said rising global temperatures will result in disturbed weather patterns and a rise in sea level. In particular, urban centers are strongly affected by climate change. However, cities are also a key contributor to climate change, as urban activities are the main source of greenhouse gas emissions.
The opening day was addressed by the Dubai Mayor, Hussain Nasser Lootah and Mohammad Al-Duaij, ECAT secretary-general. This was followed by a presentation by Dr. Benno Hain, a member of the Coordination Centre for Climate Issues Free and Hanseatic in Hamburg, Germany.
If global efforts to address climate change are to be successful, they will need to integrate city requirements and environmental management capacities. Only with a coordinated and integrated approach and actions at the global, regional, national and local levels can success be achieved. Many cities are taking the lead to reduce their impact on the global climate, the Governor observed.
The main sources of greenhouse gas emissions in cities are the use of energy in industrial purposes, transportation, and buildings (heating or cooling, lighting, and appliances) and waste decomposition. Transport is an important contributor to GHG emissions in almost all cities, although its relative contribution varies a lot from different cities worldwide.
In the Arab Region, the impact of climate change has been clearly noticed, ranging from longer and more intensive drought periods, scanty rainfall and water scarcity, among others.
In general, marginalized people will be greatly affected. In an era of rapid urbanization, mainly developing countries, cities are increasingly at risk, as climate change adds to and reinforces existing environmental, economic and social problems.
According to the organizer, the key objectives of the conference include the need to protect Arab cities from the impact of climate change and to set objectives and control measures for mitigation and adaptation to face consequences of this phenomena. Other objectives are to promote government and private sectors in Arab cities to take an efficient role in setting solutions and adopting pioneer initiatives to reduce the impact of climate change.

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