Beirut, 26 February 2003 (United Nations
workshop on "Strengthening the Role of Arab Media for Achieving
Sustainable Development" organized by the Economic and Social
Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) resumed its deliberations for
the second day at the United Nations House in Beirut.
Today's session, which focused on "Environmental Globalization: a
Media Tool to Achieve Sustainable Development", was managed by
Maguy Farah, a prominent media expert.
Speakers during this session were: Mr. Hosny Khordagui,
Environment Sustainable Management Team Leader at ESCWA; Ms. Hanan
Atallah, Associate Research Assistant at ESCWA, Mr. Karim Makdisi,
Economic Affairs Officer at ESCWA, Mr. Amin Makki Madani, Regional
Representative to the Arab States for the UN High Commissioner for
Human Rights; Mr. Habib Al-Habr, Western Asia Deputy Regional
Director of the UN Environment Program (UNEP); Ms. Umayma Kamel,
Chairperson, Cultural Network at the Egyptian Radio and TV
Federation; Mr. Ali Shabo, Chief Information Service at the United
Nations HABITAT; and Mr. Riad Tappuni, Urban Development and
Housing Policies Team Leader at ESCWA.
Hosny Khordagui, discussed the importance of giving journalists to
complete, user friendly and accurate environment-related
information in order to promote awareness among lay persons and
decision-makers. Khordagui also said that the purpose behind that
was to enhance popular contribution to the sustainable development
In her intervention, Hanan Atallah evaluated the
environment-related information credibility in the Arab region.
She stressed the need to provide local and national capacity
building in order to ensure the adequate information through
improving the means of their supervision, collection,
documentation and dissemination among media institutions.
On his part, Karim Makdisi underlined the role of Arab media in
designing national strategies for sustainable development and in
formulating plans of action to achieve the objectives of the
designed strategies. Makdisi observed that Arab media should
launch a forum for the civil society sectors and decision-makers
in order to create a link between citizens and their government.
He called on the Arab media to insert sustainable development
issues not only in urgent cases but also in daily reports.
Arab media, democracy and human rights was the main point of the
intervention made by Amine Makki Madani who also stressed the
right of citizens to sustainable development through which they
should contribute to decision-making and the supervision of
balance between the economic and the social aspects of
development. Madani underlined the lack of democracy and political
participation in the Arab media, which weakened the opportunities
of development. He highlighted the need to deepen the tripartite
link between development, democracy and human rights during the
current world developments, noting that Arab media would not be
able to fulfill its role unless the necessary political will was
provided to ensure the means of disseminating information through
regulations of democratic governance, the rule of law and the
independency of media institutions.
Habib Al-Habr discussed the role of journalists in achieving
sustainable development in light of the "Sustainable Development
Initiative in the Arab World", which was launched in the
"Johannesburg Summit". Al-Habr, who clarified that the Initiative
did not include a mechanism of implementation due to the lack of a
mechanism of sustainable development at the regional level,
stressed the importance of developing guidelines for
environment-related information and a charter for the media work
on environment based on a mechanism for a free flow of
information. He also underlined the importance of establishing a
consultative committee on environment-related media to be issued
by the Joint Committee on Environment and Development in the Arab
In her intervention, Umayma Kamel suggested establishing an Arab
TV channel specialized in environment in order to highlight the
subject in a scientific style, which would turn the matter to
Then, Mr. Ali Shabo and Mr. Riad Tappuni briefed participants on
world campaigns on urban governance.
Upon the request of the participants, the second day of the
workshop witnessed a special session on the effects of the results
of the war against Iraq. Speakers at this session were: Mr. Hosny
Khordagui and Mr. Raghid El-Solh, a consultant at ESCWA.
In his intervention, Khordagui gave a wide description of the
results of a war in Iraq, which would devastate the environmental
system. He expected the war against Iraq to destroy the sources of
transport, energy and infrastructure, which would create a
favorable atmosphere for contagious diseases.
On his part, El-Solh considered that a war in Iraq would not serve
the sought political reforms and democracy in the region specially
that reforms needed an atmosphere of calm, stability as well as an
improvement in the economic and social situation.