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The Hague Conference on Environment, Security and Sustainable Development

The Peace Palace, The Hague, The Netherlands

9 - 12 May 2004

The Peace Palace, The Hague

The IES led the organisation of a comprehensive international Conference on Environment, Security and Sustainable Development attended by senior decision makers and representatives from governments, non governmental organisations, development institutions, the private sector, and academia, at the Peace Palace in The Hague, 9-12 May 2004.

Pieter van Geel

In opening the conference, Pieter van Geel (photo), State Secretary for Housing, Spatial Planning and the Environment, The Netherlands, highlighted the importance of linking environmental policy to security. He noted the significant humanitarian consequences of serious ecological problems, most notably, climate change and the far-reaching impacts of failure to deal with that challenge.

He also asserted the importance of addressing the nature and scope of institutional reform that will be needed to solve the emerging global survival challenges. Mr. van Geel pointed out that current UN reform processes have not adequately addressed the environmental security challenge.

While the international community may not be ready for a UN Environmental Security Council, he did maintain that fundamental changes within the UN system were essential. To that end, he suggested that working towards environmental security could form a "bridge between the two extremes of the UN's objectives, namely education and poverty reduction, and Security Council issues."

The ultimate objective of the conference and its follow-up is to promote more sustainable relationships between people, their environment and the natural resources they depend on for their well-being on the basis of precaution, equity, efficiency and choice. This will require building understanding of the relationship between environment and security, and how this relationship affects sustainable development.

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