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Welcome speech of Deputy Minister of Foreign Affairs Ioannis Amanatidis at the 9th International Ecological Symposium on “Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the planet and protecting its people” (Athens, 5-8 June 2018)
“Your All Holiness, Eminent representative of His Beatitude Archbishop Ieronymos of Athens and All Greece, Ministers, Eminences, Distinguished Guests, Ladies and Gentlemen,
On behalf of the country’s Prime Minister, Alexis Tsipras, I would like to extend a heartfelt welcome to all of the participants in the 9th International Ecological Symposium on “Toward a Greener Attica: Preserving the planet and protecting its people” and express my great pleasure at our having amongst us leading figures from the fields of politics, religion, ecology and science.
Ladies and Gentlemen,
The Ecumenical Patriarchate plays a distinguished role in the effort to raise awareness, on a global level, of environmental issues and the achievement of world peace, in the context of developing cooperation on confronting the complex challenges of our time.
We all know that the initiatives of His All Holiness Ecumenical Patriarch Bartholomew, which are aimed at protecting the environment, have resulted in closer collaboration between religion and science, establishing environmental protection as a spiritual responsibility and at the same time stressing the close interdependence between humanity and nature.
Essentially, by giving his blessing to cooperation between religions and the sciences, he promoted the spirit of cooperation and solidarity on a global level, which is vital to facing modern environmental and other challenges.
His All Holiness’s many years of personal involvement in confronting such challenges have brought humanity significantly closer to “preserving the planet and protecting its people.” One example is the Paris Climate Accord.
So, I would like in particular to thank His All Holiness for his tireless efforts to ensure a sustainable future for coming generations and to create a better world, a healthier planet, and, as he himself says, “... conscience is the only force humanity can use to combat pollution. We want to convince people and governments, using moral arguments that are present in the Bible and can move people.”
Ladies and Gentlemen,
We are all aware that scientists’ predictions for the future of the planet leave no room for complacency. There are already indications of the serious repercussions the rise in the planet’s temperature will have for health, food production, adequate water supplies, the economy and society. We have witnessed the frequency and magnitude of extreme weather conditions that are even expected to lead to population movements.
Moreover, the ongoing increase in consumption of the earth’s resources – already surpassing the planet’s ability to recover and undermining improvement of the quality of life throughout the planet – raises concerns. Environmental challenges such as climate change, protection of biodiversity, environmental pollution and water-resource management are – beyond their social and economic dimensions – cross-border in nature. Thus, due to their complexity, these challenges cannot be met by one country on its own. They have to be met through coordinated international cooperation.
Greece attaches great importance to the protection of the environment and recognizes the broad range of repercussions caused by today’s environmental problems. Our country is working systematically to deal with these problems, and to this end it firmly supports the enhancement of dialogue and cooperation between countries and the strengthening of synergies among the existing international and regional policies and programmes, while at the same time promoting the cohesion of national sectoral policies. Moreover, Greece firmly supports initiatives aimed at increasing people's prosperity throughout the world and promoting a sustainable future for our planet and coming generations.
Our country remains dedicated to the commitments of the Paris Agreement and is working to meet the 2030 targets for reduced emissions of greenhouse gases.
Seeing climate protection and economic growth as compatible goals, it aims, together with the other member states of the EU, to transform the European Union into a low-emissions, climate-resilient economy that bolsters growth, creates new jobs and enhances sustainability.
Greece is already working to achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals of the 2030 Development Agenda, as they provide an ambitious framework for a new, just and sustainable development course that ensures a balance between economic growth, social cohesion and justice, and protection of the country’s environment.
The adoption of the Sustainable Development Goals is an opportunity for all countries, developed and developing, to transform their economy, social structures and environmental policy to reduce poverty and inequality, to protect the environment, and to ensure quality of life for everyone.
The pressing nature of the new challenges necessitates that we redouble our efforts toward dialogue and cooperation between all interested parties. At the same time, it necessitates our dealing with traditional problems and pressures of the environment through innovative approaches and new ideas. Innovative approaches and ideas that arise from excellent initiatives like this one today.
I wish you every success in your Symposium’s proceedings.”