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MENAFN - Arab News - 02/02/2013

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(MENAFN - Arab News) The European Union (EU) has invited the six-member Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) to join an international network to counter the risks posed by hazardous waste produced by various industries.

This invitation was extended during a conference in Abu Dhabi. Participants included officials and representatives from the EU, Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates (UAE), Oman, Bahrain and Qatar.

The conference concluded last week. It was co-hosted by the UAE and the European Commission.

The conference was opened by Ambassador Adam Kulach who represents the European Union in the Gulf region. He called for greater cooperation in countering and managing hazardous materials.

"There is a need for high-level cooperation to respond to risks from chemical and other materials. Such cooperation is important for the Gulf region, to protect industrial installations, for example," he added.

He said participants in the international network will have access to experts and international best practice. During the conference, the EU officially launched the initiative on risk mitigation in the areas of chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear (CBRN) materials.

According to a report published in Construction Week magazine, the construction industry in the GCC is responsible for over half the GCC's waste while only accounting for 5.6 percent of the region's Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

Oil and gas revenues making up 40 percent of the region's GDP. The construction industry accounts for 55 percent of the GCC's total waste, with municipal waste at 20 percent, industrial waste at 18 percent and hazardous waste at seven percent, said the report. The GCC is expected to produce more waste in years to come because of several planned industrial and nuclear projects.

Kulach said that the program is being set up in eight different regions worldwide. He pointed out that the UAE has confirmed its readiness to host a regional secretariat to facilitate work in this area. This means that experts will gather in Abu Dhabi to discuss issues related to preparedness and responses in the field of CBRN risk mitigation.

In a statement issued recently, the Riyadh-based EU Delegation said that the GCC countries were invited to set up a national focal point and a national CBRN risk mitigation team to allow them to participate effectively in the international network. "As a next step, country-to-country presentations on the initiative will be held in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Kuwait, Oman and Qatar."

The statement said that the creation of the CBRN Centers of Excellence (CoE) aims to implement a coordinated regional and international strategy for CBRN risk mitigation. The origin of the risk can be criminal (proliferation, theft, sabotage and illicit trafficking), accidental (chemical, nuclear, waste treatment and transport) or natural pandemics.

The CBRN CoE has been developed by the European Commission with the assistance of the United Nations. More than 60 countries in eight regions of the world are starting to exchange best practices and confidence-building measures in the area.


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