At the invitation of German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel, who chairs the G8 group this year, the environment ministers of the five major newly industrialising countries – China, India, Brazil, Mexico and South Africa – will take part for the first time in this annual ministerial meeting.
German Environment Minister Sigmar Gabriel: "This group of participants brings together the generators of some two-thirds of global greenhouse gas emissions and the users of about three-quarters of the biological capacity of the Earth. The Potsdam meeting offers a great opportunity to make real progress for biodiversity conservation and climate change mitigation.”
2007 is a decisive year for international climate protection. The first phase of the Kyoto Protocol is due to end in 2012. The ministers will discuss ways to launch comprehensive negotiations at the UN climate summit due to take place at the end of this year in Indonesia.
Environment Minister Gabriel: "The international climate negotiations urgently need fresh political impetus to cope with this task – the task of the century. We will engage in frank debate in Potsdam on the obstacles which have impeded progress up to now and the avenues by which to remove them.”
Regarding biodiversity conservation, the heads of government set the ambitious target of significantly reducing the loss of biological diversity by 2010 when they met at the 2002 Johannesburg sustainability summit. Three years before the set date, the international community remains far removed from that target.
Environment Minister Gabriel: "If we want still to achieve the target we set ourselves, we will need to step up our efforts considerably. The G8 states have the greatest economic capacity and are the largest consumers of biological resources. They thus bear a special responsibility to safeguard our natural life-support systems by taking resolute action now.”
The Environment Ministers Meeting is expected to agree upon joint initiatives in a range of fields – conservation and sustainable use of biological diversity, science, patterns of consumption and production, and financing.
Germany holds the G8 presidency this year. The Environment Ministers Meeting will feed into preparations for the G8 summit of heads of state and government due to take place from 6 to 8 June 2007 in Heiligendamm.