The Cyprus Institute and the Future Earth MENA Regional Center (FEMRC) was present at the UN Biodiversity Conference that takes place this week. The United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) is part of the legacy of the “Earth Summit” that took place in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil in 1992. At fixed time intervals, a Meeting of the Parties (COP) is being organized in one of the signatory countries of the CBD. This year’s 14th COP of the CBD (CBD-COP14) takes place in Sharm el Sheik, Egypt from November 17-29, 2018.
When it became clear that the CBD-COP was to be held in a neighboring country, the Secretariat of the CBD was approached concerning a possible involvement of The Cyprus institute’s Future Earth MENA Regional Center (FEMRC) would be desirable. In response, an enthusiastic invitation letter was received first from the head of the National Egyptian CBD Committee followed by the official invitation of the CBD Secretariat.
In consultation with global leadership of Future Earth (FE) it was decided that the Future Earth MENA Regional Center should participate in the COP as part of the greater FE contingency and that Prof. Manfred Lange, the Director of the FEMRC should be the Head of the Future Earth Delegation.
Prof. Lange was invited to be an invited speaker at the Fair on experiences and best practices in Communication, Education and Public Awareness (CEPA-Fair) as well as an invited plenary speaker at the Sixth Global Biodiversity Summit of Local and Subnational Governments, which is being organized in the framework of the CBD-COP14 (November 23-24).Both of his presentations focused on the challenges to be faced by major cities in the larger MENA Region with regard to anticipated climate change and deteriorating air qualities and the associated risks to human health. More specifically, he discussed the replacement of wood/charcoal-fired open fire stoves for cooking in private households and by street vendors with solar tube cookers. Open fire cooking has been identified as a major source of serious illnesses and of premature death of 30 Million people annually as reported by the World Health Organization. Moreover, the about 30 Million tons of charcoal that are annually used in Africa require about 150 Million tons of wood to be chopped down. This has serious consequences on forest ecosystems and their biodiversity. Burning of charcoal leads to significant emissions of greenhouse gases (particularly carbon dioxide) both in the process of producing it and of burning it. Solar cooking provides a sustainable, affordable and easy to use alternative to conventional biomass burning and avoids most of the adverse consequences of the latter.