World, Environment

G20 environment ministers' summit kicks off in Italy

Biodiversity loss, pollution, desertification, unsustainable use of water among subjects to be discussed in Naples

Baris Seckin and Yasemin Kalyoncuoglu   | 23.07.2021
G20 environment ministers' summit kicks off in Italy

NAPLES, Italy

A meeting of the environment and energy ministers of the Group of 20 rich nations began Thursday in Naples hosted by Italy, the rotating president of the G20.

The ministers, along with representatives of relevant organizations, met at the historic Royal Palace of Naples to hold discussions and seek solutions on the issues of biodiversity loss and pollution, degradation of agricultural land, desertification, and unsustainable use of water and other natural resources.

Italy's Ecological Transition Minister Roberto Cingolani welcomed the ministers.

The summit is being held in unprecedented circumstances that require heartfelt, joint and urgent global action, he said in his opening speech.

Noting that it is impossible to ignore scientific reports on climate change indicators, he stressed that the tragic weather events the world has witnessed in recent months and days show the climate system is experiencing serious problems.

Cingolani said the same applies to ecosystems and biodiversity.

He said the COVID-19 pandemic is also disrupting societies and economies, noting they must fight together against these two tests, both the impact from the outbreak and the climate crisis.

Following him, the environment ministers of Saudi Arabia and Indonesia also gave speeches.

At the two-day summit, participants will evaluate international developments and discuss sustainable policies on nature conservation.

Turkey urges collective fight against climate change

Turkey's Environment and Urbanization Minister Murat Kurum also attended the meeting.

Speaking at the first session, Kurum said: “As Turkey, we continue our fight against climate change resolutely, but a country cannot continue this struggle alone.”

“Climate change and pollution know no borders. So we have to act collectively in the fight against climate change and environmental problems,” Kurum said.

“As Turkey, we conduct scientific research to protect our biological diversity. By increasing our protected areas’ size to 11%, we saved all our living and non-living assets and rivers from the danger of pollution and extinction.

“We continue our work to increase this above 17%, which is the average rate in Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD) countries,” Kurum noted.

Kurum underlined that in the coming period, Turkey will host the 16th Conference of the Parties to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity and will assume the presidency of the conference for two years.

“In this process, Turkey will play a leading role in the steps to be taken towards the protection and sustainable use of biological diversity,” he added.

Kurum was expected to make another speech later in the day at the session on "Joint Efforts for Sustainable and Cyclical Resource Utilization.”

The G20 ministers will also meet in Naples on Friday on fighting climate change, developing a common vision in energy and strengthening areas of cooperation.

Kurum will attend both meetings with a technical delegation consisting of the relevant ministries.

Protests

Due to the G20 meeting, security measures were increased in Naples and about 2,200 security guards were deployed.

Some environmental groups were expected to hold protests at different points throughout the day in the city.

In the morning, a group of environmental activists blocked an intersection on the A3 highway in the east of the city to traffic, Italian media reported.

The protesters argue that the G20 is acting “hypocritically” on the issue of the environment and only protects the interests of multinationals.

*Writing by Merve Berker and Zehra Nur Duz

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