Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou is a leading politician on environmental matters. She serves as the Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization (GWPO) in Stockholm, Sweden, and as the Head of Water of the Energy and Environment Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) in Paris, France. Dr. Avgerinopoulou has also served as the Chairperson of the Standing Committee for the UN Affairs of the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU), in Geneva, Switzerland, the Chairperson of the Circle of the Mediterranean Parliamentarians on Sustainable Development (COMPSUD), the Vice-Chair for the Mediterranean Commission for Sustainable Development (MCSD), and a Member of the Hellenic Parliament and Chair of the Environment Committee of the Hellenic Parliament, in Athens, Greece. In 2015, Dionysia-Theodora was nominated as a candidate for the position of the Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) by the Hellenic Republic. In 2013, she was nominated for the position of the Deputy Executive Director of UNEP by the Hellenic Republic.

She served twice as a Member of the Hellenic Parliament, as well as the Chairperson of the Special Permanent Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Protection, its Subcommittee of the Watercourses, and the Chairperson of the National Defense and Foreign Affairs Committee. She has served as the President of the Parliamentary Committee of Friendship between Greece and Botswana, the Secretary of the Parliamentary Committee of Friendship between Greece and the Netherlands, and a Member of the Parliamentary Committees of Friendship between Greece and the U.S.A., Russia, Kenya, Israel, and Albania. She has served as the Deputy Secretary of Volunteerism and NGOs and the Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector of the New Democracy Party. Dr. Avgerinopoulou was a member of the Committee regarding the Genetically Modified Organisms of the Greek Ministry for Environment, Energy and Climate Change.

In 2011, Dr. Avgerinopoulou was elected as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum for her leadership in environmental protection. In the same year, she received the “Green Star” Award by UNEP/OCHA/Green Cross International for her efforts in preventing and responding to environmental emergencies. She was also selected among the “40Under40” of the EU, namely among the most distinguished 40 leaders of the European Union under the age of 40.  In 2010, she also received a Special Congressional Recognition for her “outstanding efforts and invaluable contributions on behalf of Hellenic Students and the environment” and the Global Citizenship Award for Leadership in Assisting Humanity by Orphans International Worldwide in 2010. In 2009, she received the international Goddess Artemis Award by the Euro-American Women’s Council for her contribution to transatlantic cooperation between the U.S. and the EU on environmental and climate change issues, as well as a Recognition by the Mayor of Athens of “her contribution in promoting the Hellenic spirit worldwide.”

Dionysia-Theodora is also an attorney-at-law. She has previously worked, among others, at the Legal Service of the European Commission in Brussels, Belgium, the Permanent Mission of the European Union at the United Nations in New York, U.S.A., the Center on Environmental and Land Use Law of the New York University School of Law in New York, the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy and the Yale Law School in New Haven, C.T., U.S.A. and the International and Foreign Law Institute in Athens, Greece. She teaches Public International Law, International Environmental Law, European Environmental Law, Law of Sustainable Development, Climate Change Law and Energy Law.  She is also the Director and Co-founder of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology.

Dionysia-Theodora received a first degree in Law from the Faculty of Law of the National and Kapodestrian University of Athens, Greece, and an LL.M. in International Legal Studies from Georgetown University Law Center in Washington, D.C. She also holds a Doctorate in International Environmental Law (J.S.D.) from Columbia University School of Law. She is the author of several academic articles on environmental and international issues.

Books:

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Denial of Knowledge – How International Lawmakers Fail in Integrating Science in Environmental Laws and What to Do to Fix It, Springer Publ, 2019.

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The law and the practice of green finance (under development).

Articles:

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou: The Global Pact for the Environment and its Role in Global Environmental Governance (under development.)

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Justifying the Participation of Science of the International Environmental Lawmaking Processes – From Plato to Ecological Technocracy, in Publication of the 4th Congress of the Humanitarian and Social Sciences (I.A.K.E.) Institute (in Greek), 2018.

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou The Mediocre Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Law and Nature Journal (in Greek: “Περιοδικό ΝΟΜΟΣ+ΦΥΣΗ”), January 10, 2018, available at: http://nomosphysis.org.gr/17392/i-metriopathis-symfonia-ton-parision-gia-tin-klimatiki-allagi/

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou & Katerina Stollis, Recent Developments in International Space Law, 3 Eur. J. Law, Science & Technology 4 (2017), available at: www.eurilst.org

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Legal Qualification of Ship Repair Waste Under IMO and the Need for Harmonization of the European Union Legislation, 2 Eur. J. Law, Science & Tech. 4 (2016), available at: www.eurilst.org.

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Benefits of the Agreements of Economic Cooperation between Greece and Smaller States: the Case of the El Salvador, “Diplomatia” (2012), available at: http://www.diplomatic.gr/pd/ar- HYPERLINK “http://www.diplomatic.gr/pd/ar-augerinopoulou.htm”augerinopoulou HYPERLINK “http://www.diplomatic.gr/pd/ar-augerinopoulou.htm”.htm, (in Greek);

Michael B. Gerrard and Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Development and Future of Climate Change Law, in The Future of International Environmental Law and its Role in Development (United Nations University ed., 2009);

A Challenge for the New Secretary General: Reorganizing the UN to Effectively Combat Climate Change, in ENVIRONMENT AND CLIMATE CHANGE POLICY (A. Krishna Kumari ed., ICFAI University Press, 2007);

Approximation of European Environmental Criminal Legislation: Within or Out of the Community Law Mandate?, 13 Colum. J. Eur. Law 3 (2007);

The Role of the International Judiciary to the Settlement of International Environmental Disputes and Alternative Proposals in Environmental Jurisprudence – Country Perspectives (A. Krishna Kumari ed., ICFAI University Press, 2006);

Implementation and Compliance of Multilateral Environmental Agreements – The New EC Generalized System of Preference Scheme, 12 Colum. J. Eur. L. 3, 827 (2006);

The New EC Directive on Wastes, 12(2) Colum. J. Eur. Law 639 (2006);

The Law-making Process at the International Seabed Authority as a Limitation to Effective Environmental Management, 3 Colum. J. Envtl. L. 565, (2005);

The Rise of Global Environmental Administrative Law – Improving Implementation and Compliance through the Means of Global Governance, Conference Proceedings, Seventh International Conference on Environmental Compliance and Enforcement, International Network for Environmental Compliance and Enforcement (INECE), vol. 1, (2005), p. 131-139

Global Environmental Justice: The Role of the International Judiciary to the Settlement of International Environmental Disputes and Alternative Proposals, Background Paper for the Global Environmental Governance Workshop, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, New Haven, CT.  Oct. 2003.  Available at: http://www.yale.edu/gegdialogue/docs/dialogue/oct03/papers/Avgerinopoulou.pdf;

Global Environmental Governance: Policy Options. Background Paper for the Global Environmental Governance Workshop, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, New Haven, CT.  Oct. 2003.

A Roadmap to the Era of Global Environmental Wisdom, 15 Geo. Int’l Envtl L. Rev., 887 (2003) (reviewing Global Environmental Governance: Options & Opportunities, (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Daniel C. Esty & Maria H. Ivanova eds., Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 2002.)

 

Book reviews: 

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, A Roadmap to the Era of Global Environmental Wisdom, 15 Geo. Int’l Envtl L. Rev., 887 (2003) (reviewing Global Environmental Governance: Options & Opportunities, (Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, Daniel C. Esty & Maria H. Ivanova eds., Yale School of Forestry & Environmental Studies, 2002));

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Book review, 55 Revue Hellenique de Droit International (RHDI), 640 (2002) (reviewing Dispute Settlement in Public International Law – Texts and Materials (Oellers-Frahm – Zimmermann eds., Max-Planck Institute for Comparative Public Law and International Law, Springer Publ., 2nd ed., 2254 pp. (2001)).

Selected Conference Background Papers, Presentations and Reports (political articles and presentations not included): 

REPORT BY THE SUBCOMMITTEE OF WATER RESOURCES OF THE HELLENIC PARLIAMENT (D. – Th. Avgerinopoulou ed., Hellenic Parliament Publ., 2013).

REPORT BY THE PERMANENT SPECIAL COMMITTEE ON ENVIRONMENTAL PROTECTION OF THE HELLENIC PARLIAMENT (D. – Th. Avgerinopoulou ed., Hellenic Parliament Publ., 2013).

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Review Bodies in Multilateral Environmental Agreements – Competences, Coherence, Coordination, 4th Global Administrative Law Seminar, New York University School of Law and University of Rome, Viterbo, Italy, 12-14 June, 2009, available at: http://www.iilj.org/GAL/documents/V5.Avgerinopoulou.pdf;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Upcoming Environmental Protocol to the UN Law of the Sea Convention: Challenges and Prospects, Conference on the Environmental Protection of the Black Sea, co-organized by the Turkish Ministry of Environment and Planning and Inten-Sygergy, Trabzon, Turkey, 16-17 June 2008;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Autonomy without Accountability – The case of the International Seabed Authority and the Enterprise, 2nd Global Administrative Law Seminar, New York University School of Law and University of Rome, Viterbo, Italy, 10-11 June, 2006.  Available at: http://www.iilj.org/global_adlaw/documents/Avgerinopoulou.doc;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Jews of Greece: an Introduction, Conference on the occasion of the anniversary of the Greek Resistance to the German Occupation, Columbia University School of Law, New York, N.Y., November 2005;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Cyprus, a Continuous Crime, Anniversary of the Occupation of the Island of Cyprus, Columbia University, New York, N.Y. July 2005;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Global Environmental Justice: The Role of the International Judiciary to the Settlement of International Environmental Disputes and Alternative Proposals, Background Paper for the Global Environmental Governance Workshop, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, New Haven, CT.  Oct. 2003.  Available at: http://www.yale.edu/gegdialogue/docs/dialogue/oct03/papers/Avgerinopoulou.pdf;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulo, Global Environmental Governance: Policy Options. Background Paper for the Global Environmental Governance Workshop, Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy, New Haven, CT.  Oct. 2003;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Sustainable Development in the Framework of Cooperation between Europe and Developing Countries, Hellenic Institute for Development and Cooperation (ELINAS) working group.  Athens, Greece. May 1999;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Environment and Development, A need for an International Environmental Court, presented before a Moot Parliament, organized by UN and SAFIA (Student Association for Foreign Affairs).  Athens, Greece. March 1999.

 

Research Academic Papers:

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Principle of Subsidiarity and European Community Environmental Policy.  Jan. 2002;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Polanyi’s Aspect for the New Economic Order.  Jan. 2002;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Role of the International Organizations as to Uniform Law.  Dec. 2001;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Formation of the International Customary Law through the Martens Clause.  Nov. 2001;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Statute of an International Environmental Court.  April 2001;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Animal Rights: A Legal Point of View.  Nov. 2000;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, International Factoring.  Jan. 2000;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, International Tendencies Concerning Labor Law.  December 1999;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, International Environmental Law: Selected Topics. Sept.  1998;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Implementation of the International and European Community Environmental Law by the Greek Courts. May 1998;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Greek Theory and Case Law Regarding the Protection of the Natural Environment and the Greek Heritage.   Dec. 1997;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, The Protection of the Rights of Minorities under the 1996 Framework – Convention of the Council of Europe.   May 1997;

Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Diplomatic History of the Islands of Dodecanese.  May 1996.

MEDIA

PRESS RELEASES

Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Chair of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the Hellenic National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Hellas) and Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy (ICC), participated at the ICC Roundtable regarding the UN Global Pact for the Environment, which took place on January 9, 2019 at ICC Headquarters in Paris.

The event was related to the Resolution 72/277 entitled “Towards a Global Compact for the Environment” adopted on May 2018 by the UN General Assembly, which initiated a process to negotiate an overarching framework to international environmental law aimed at further solidifying, consolidating –as well as advancing- International Environmental Law (IEL) in response to the pressing environmental challenges of our time. The ICC, in its capacity as Permanent Observer to the UN General Assembly and UN Environment Focal Point for Business, convened this high-level roundtable to discuss the business perspective on the UN global pact for the environment ahead of the first round of substantive negotiations, which will take place in Nairobi on 19 January 2019.

The panel discussed the purpose and the business perspective in regards to the UN Secretary-General’s Report A/73/419, entitled “Gaps in International Environmental Law and Environment-related Instruments: towards a global pact for the environment”. The main debates were about the nature and implementation of contemplated instrument as well as the substantive contents of contemplated instrument.

Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the Hellenic National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Hellas) and Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy (ICC), participated at the ICC Roundtable regarding the UN Global Pact for the Environment, which took place on January 9, 2019 at ICC Headquarters in Paris. The event was being held at a high-level of government representatives, environmental experts and thought leaders, among which, Mr. Laurent Fabius, President of the French Constitutional Council and Chair of the International Group of Experts for the Global Pact for the Environment.

 

The event was the result of the Resolution 72/277 entitled “Towards a Global Compact for the Environment” adopted on May 2018 by the UN General Assembly, which initiated a process to negotiate an overarching framework to international environmental law aimed at further solidifying, consolidating –as well as advancing- international environmental law in response to the pressing environmental challenges of our time. The ICC, in its capacity as Permanent Observer to the UN General Assembly and UN Environment Focal Point for Business, convened this high-level roundtable to discuss the business perspective on the UN global pact for the environment ahead of the first round of substantive negotiations, which will take place in Nairobi on 19 January 2019.

Dr. Theodora-Dionysia Avgerinopoulou addressing the Plenary of the UNFCCC COP24
on behalf of the business and industry constituency, Katowice, Poland, 12.12.2018.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen – My name is Dr. Dionysia-Theodora AVGERINOPOULOU and I am Chair of the Environment and Energy group of the International Chamber of Commerce in Greece.

It is my honour to address you on behalf of the business and industry constituency at this meeting and to thank the Polish Presidency for hosting us here in Katowice.

Since the Paris Agreement was signed in 2015, there has been an ever increasing number of commitments and actions across the private sector, from finance to investment, from agriculture to energy, from consumer goods to supply chains and operations.

These commitments and actions have come as business and industry prepare for the decades ahead, where the risks – and opportunities – of climate change must be factored into their own growth and development scenarios.

What has driven this ambition by the private sector is LEADERSHIP.

We are here at COP24 to ask YOU to also show LEADERSHIP. We are counting on you to demonstrate your leadership here in Katowice and deliver a robust Paris Rulebook that will send a strong  signal that climate change is high on the political agenda.

Business and Industry recognizes the complexity of the decisions that are to be taken by the COP. However, the magnitude of the consequences have never been clearer and you must achieve what you set out to do.

On this point, business and industry will rely on the IPCC report to help direct planning, investment and future operations.

Excellencies, distinguished delegates, ladies and gentlemen:

  • The science is clear
  • The will of all stakeholders is clear
  • The signals from business are clear

We ask you to make the Paris Agreement truly historical and deliver the implementation guidelines that will allow it to provide guidance for the future, increase ambition and result in us achieving inclusive and sustainable growth today.

In Katowice, Poland, the 24th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change or COP24 as generally known, takes place with the message that “climate change is running faster than we do” as stated by the UN Secretary General, Mr. António  Guterres at the opening ceremony of the Conference. The goal remains the same as in COP23 to assess the impact of countries’ efforts to maintain or reduce their emissions to meet the Paris Agreement target of 2 °C, pre-industrial levels, and pursuing efforts to limit the temperature rise to 1.5 °C. This year’s annual Conference of the Parties is crucial for the implementation of the Paris Agreement on climate change, which was signed in 2015, since the countries are aiming to finalize a detailed set of rules to put the adopted accord into practice worldwide. Adopting a clear and comprehensive Work Programme consistent with what was agreed in Paris is necessary for putting the Agreement into practice, especially under the light of the recent special report from the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found that warming could reach 1.5 degrees as soon as 2030, with devastating impacts.

Businesses, local governments, cities and other organizations play a key role in the transition to a low-carbon and climate-resilient world, as was recognized in the Paris Agreement. The sharing of experience from the private sector side, on the conditions to achieve sustainability in practice, is extremely valuable. Under this perspective, the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) plays an active role in the Conference, represented, among others, by Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy and Chair of the Commission on Environment and Energy of the ICC Hellas. Dr. Avgerinopoulou will, having a strong background leading business engagement on sustainable development, draw attention to the need for transparency to facilitate long term private sector planning and investments as well as to the necessity of promoting low carbon and environmentally friendly technologies and products. Dr. Avgerinopoulou strongly believes that involving the private sector in defining a clear and comprehensive Paris rulebook is essential to achieving a just transition and tackling the climate challenge, while promoting simultaneously a sustainable economic growth as the Work Programme will provide the framework upon which businesses could strengthen their climate action. After all, “any delay in taking action will make it more difficult and more costly to tackle climate change,” as the presidents of the four previous COPs have stated.

Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Vice-Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization, member of the ICC Committee on the Environment and Energy and Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the ICC Hellas, was appointed as Head of the Working Group on Water of the ICC Commission on Environment and Energy for a two-year term.

The International Chamber of Commerce (ICC) develops global business policy views on key issues that affect companies’ ability to trade and invest across borders, and meet the challenges and opportunities of an increasingly integrated global economy. It was founded in 1919 to assist businesses in tackling the challenges and opportunities of globalization with a vision of promoting free international trade and investment. So far, the Chamber has promoted highly important issues, such as the fight against corruption, competition policy, environment and energy, through the creation of relevant Commissions. The mandate of the Environment and Energy Commission is, in particular, primarily concerned with developing policy recommendations and tools to address major global environmental and energy issues, including climate change and green economy within the framework of sustainable development, and making a substantive contribution to key intergovernmental discussions in these areas.

The Working Group on Water will strive to ensure that the ICC will continue to be a leader in responsible business engagement that promotes sustainable, inclusive economic growth in line with the UN Climate Change and Sustainable Development Goals, adding value to the policy development process. The Working Group is part of the evolution of the Commission’s strategy towards this direction, coupled with the ICC’s role as UNFCC’s Focal Point for business and industry as well as ICC’s Observer Status at the UN General Assembly.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou has pledged to drive the strategic direction of ICC’s work on water, taking into account current market and business issues, as well as develop a global business position on water, considering the views of technical and policy experts at governmental, stakeholder and business level. She is, also, personally invested in the realization of Sustainable Development Goals No. 6 and 14 and the sustainable water management, which will be the main field of action of the Working Group.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou would like to extend her gratitude towards the ICC Commission on Energy and Environment on her appointment to such a prestigious and influential role.

The climate and energy legal framework was presented by Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou, f. Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Environment of the Hellenic Parliament, Chairman of the Committee on the Environment and Energy of the Hellenic National Committee of the International Chamber of Commerce (ICC Hellas) and Executive Director of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology, during her speech at the Athens Energy Forum, which was held on February 15 and 16, 2018, with the participation of select speakers and experts in the energy sector.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou participated in the panel on “Sustainable Development – Climate Change and Energy” and referred to the steps for “cleaner” energy technologies, the responsible measures to be taken to cut carbon pollution, the innovation in the field of “clean” energy and the evolving policy framework. Dr. Avgerinopoulou, also, highlighted the challenges posed by the fragmentation of Public International Law and the lack of a coherent legislative framework, while mentioning that there are, indeed, important recent developments on the international, regional (EU) and domestic level that promote the deployment of Renewables. In addition, she underlined the role of education for energy transition and the emerging momentum seen by the potential of de-investing in the oil and gas intensive sectors.  Part of the speech was devoted to the comparative advantages of renewable energy sources in contrast to the current energy system that is neither effective, nor efficient or sustainable (financially, socially, environmentally) and to the available sources of funding for the shift towards affordable, reliable, sustainable and modern energy, as reflected in the Sustainable Development Goal 7. Funding is vital for the energy transition, as she pointed out, which, if appropriately exploited by Greece, it can generate enormous economic benefits and help the achievement of the EU targets as outlined at the 2020 climate and energy package and the new 2030 climate and energy framework. A major part of the speech was devoted to the several financial EU tools, such as the new Horizon 2020 Work Program 2018-2020 for Energy Efficiency that handles over 2 billion euros for energy related projects. Regarding Greece, she laid emphasis on both the continued interest in lignite units and the major legislative initiatives that were approved by the Greek Parliament, such as the L3851/2010 on “Accelerating the development of Renewable Energy Sources to deal with climate change and other regulations in topics under the authority of the Ministry of Environment, Energy and Climate Change”.

Concluding, Dr. Dionysia – Theodora Avgerinopoulou summarized the evolving policy framework and stressed the  need for new policies, market systems and technology enablers that can effectively deliver the required, timely and effective change to a more sustainable, affordable, secure and inclusive energy system. Lastly, she mentioned the gaps that still need to be addressed by the legislation and policy, such as the absence of science and technology – triggering regulations, the nexus between energy and water and the nexus between energy and food security. Thus, she noted that the policies and laws should enable technologies innovations in energy production, consumption and management, adopt financial aid for renewable energy sources, foster citizen education on clean energy, demand the expansion of CO2 capture, storage, and/or conversion and re-design smarter cities.

For further information please visit the official website of the Athens Energy Forum:

http://www.athensenergyforum.com/

The Chair of the Circle of the Mediterranean Parliamentarians on Sustainable Development (COMPSUD), Vice Chair of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization” (GWPO) and f. Chairman of the Standing Committee for the Environment of the Hellenic Parliament and its Subcommittee of Water Resources, and Director of the European Institute of Law, Science & Technology, Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, made the following statement on Water.

“In 1993, the UN General Assembly officially declared March 22 as World Water Day. The World Water Day is celebrated with the UN initiative and the participation of governments and cooperating institutions, including the Global Water Partnership Organization. Every year, March 22 reminds us that, although there has been some progress, we must take additional action to address the water crisis. Today in developing countries there are still 663 million people living without safe access to water, without water near their homes, and spend hundreds of hours to fetch water for their families. At the same time, both developing and developed countries need to step up decontamination efforts. Water resources are often polluted, even drinking water, and we must put our efforts into the decontamination process in order to protect public health and the ecological balance of ecosystems. Furthermore, the global water resources are being under pressure of climate change, resulting in strong water shortages to occur in many parts of the world. Let us not forget that water is a source of life, a cooperation and equitable development tool. The protection and sustainable management of water resources will determine the future of millions of people around the world in the coming years. The challenges -due to overexploitation, pollution and climate change- are great. The intensification of international cooperation, the emphasis on new financial instruments for the environment and adaptation to climate change, the development and use of innovative technologies, as well as sound management and desalination projects are aspects on which the international community should focus. The Global Sustainability Goal No 6 is related to access to safe water for all and adequate sanitation by 2030. Together we must succeed.”

Dr. Dionysia –Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Greece’s candidate for the position of Under-Secretary General of the UN and Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme” (UNEP), is attending the COP21 Opening today in Paris, France. The opening ceremony of the Leaders’ Event head starts the UN Climate Summit that is taking place from Monday 30th to Tuesday 8th December 2015, with the participation of  190 UN member nations’ Presidents and Prime Ministers. The objective of the 2015 Conference is to achieve, for the first time, a legally binding and universal agreement on climate. The ultimate goal of the Convention of the Parties is to reduce greenhouse gas emissions in order to limit the global temperature increase to 2 °C above pre-industrial levels and support nations in implementing adaptation policies.

Dr. Avgerinopoulou, has joined the national delegation and is attending the opening ceremony of COP21 in a dual capacity: as Chair of  theCircle of Mediterranean Parliamentarians for Sustainable Development (COMPSUD) and a Member of the Steering Committee of the Global Water Partnership Organization (GWPO).  Dr. Avgerinopoulou, an environmental leader and dedicated politician regarding environmental issues, is a specialized attorney in International, Environmental and Sustainable Development Law, and the recipient of the Green Star Award presented by UNEP, OCHA, and Green Cross International, for her leadership in prevention, preparedness and response to environmental emergencies. The United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) is the leading global environmental authority that sets the global environmental agenda, promotes the coherent implementation of the environmental dimension of sustainable development within the United Nations system and serves as an authoritative advocate for the global environment.

Introduction

Distinguished guests, dear friends and colleagues,

 

I am very honored to be here with you today.

First, I would especially like to thank Dr. Agni Arvanitis-Vlavianos, President of the Biopolitics International Organization – one of the most important non-governmental organizations regarding the protection of the earth and the “bio”, a Greek word that means “life”, on earth – and a Peace Nobel Laureate Candidate, for her invitation to be here today. In addition, I would especially like to thank the Hellenic Chapter of the historic Club of Rome for their invitation and support to the event, as well as the Greek Office of the European Parliament for hosting the event.

The aim of the event today is twofold, because it aims to shed light to two parallel global processes that have already started and will conclude in 2015, while they shape our common future; first, in the view of the climate change negotiations, it is important to raise awareness regarding the significant impacts of climate change and how to combat them. Secondly, both State actors and the civil society should participate in the global dialogue regarding the development of the Sustainability Development Goals (SDGs). Both of these instruments, on climate change and the SDGs, will shape the future developmental agenda (2030 Development Agenda) and the new economic world order in the years to come up to 2030.

Our meeting today takes place on a very timely manner, since the global society stands before, first, the Annual Hearing of the Interparliamentary Union (IPU) at the UN Headquarters regarding the SDGs that will take place next week, on Nov. 18-21, 2014, and the upcoming global climate change conference that will be held on Dec. 1-12, 2014, in Lima, Peru.

 

 

Part A: The Sustainable Development Goals

 

The Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are the overarching framework for development after 2015 and until 2030. After a rigorous international, multi-stake process that is still on, there are up to present 17 SDGs, including, among others:

Goal 1: the complete eradication of poverty;

 

Goal 2: the eradication of hunger, the achievement of food security and improved agriculture, and the promotion of sustainable agriculture;

 

Goal 3: the insurance of healthy lives and promotion of well-being for all at all ages;

 

Goal 4: the insurance of inclusive and equitable quality education and promotion of life-long learning opportunities for all;

 

Goal 5: the achievement of gender equality and empowerment of all women and girls;

 

Goal 6: the insurance of availability and sustainable management of water and sanitation for all;

 

Goal 7: the insurance of access to affordable, reliable, sustainable, and modern energy for all;

 

Goal 8: the promotion of sustained, inclusive and sustainable economic growth, full and productive employment and decent work for all;

 

Goal 9: the establishment of resilient infrastructure, the promotion of sustainable industrialization and fostering of innovation;

 

Goal 10: the reduction of inequality within and among countries;

 

Goal 11: the restructuring of cities and human settlements in order to be inclusive, safe, resilient and sustainable;

 

Goal 12: the ensurance of sustainable consumption and production patterns;

 

Goal 13: the undertaking of urgent action to combat climate change and its impacts;

 

Goal 14: the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas, and marine resources for sustainable development;

 

Goal 15: the protection, restoration and promotion of sustainable use of terrestrial ecosystems, sustainability management of forests, combating desertification, and stopping and reversing land degradation and biodiversity loss;

 

Goal 16: the promotion of peaceful and inclusive societies for sustainable development, the provision of access to justice for all and the building of effective, accountable and inclusive institutions at all levels (the governance goal that the IPU insisted it should be included in the list);

 

and Goal 17: the strengthening of the means of implementation and revitalization of the global partnership for sustainable development.

 

In these processes, the Inter-parliamentary Union (IPU) serves in an exemplary way as a platform/forum to convey the voices of the ordinary people on the international level through their parliamentary representatives. If representative democracy regimes within the countries deploy all of the necessary institutions available to inform, discuss, and negotiate the SDGs with their people, then IPU could bring to the attention of the international community the voices of the peoples we all need and ought to hear, before the final adoption of the SDGs in 2015. The IPU is the body better equipped to quickly materialize a bottom-up approach to the formation of the SDGs and enhance in this way stakeholder involvement and cooperation.

Why is that? or else: what is the IPU and what is its role in the SDGs development?

 

 

 

What is the IPU?

The IPU is the international organization of Parliaments. It counts as the oldest international (though not inter-governmental, but rather inter-state) organization, established as early as in 1889. It represents more than 189 parliaments around the world, while the delegations of the parliaments are being comprised by all of the political parties that have been elected in their respective parliaments. The Union is the focal point for world-wide parliamentary dialogue and works for peace and co-operation among peoples and for the firm establishment of representative democracy.

Among others, the IPU, that contributed to the establishment of the UN, today supports the efforts of and works in close co-operation with the United Nations, whose objectives it shares. The IPU convenes legislators around the main global issues under consideration by the United Nations.

The IPU Standing Committee on UN Affairs, which I have the honor to chair, is a newly established committee that, among others, assists in developing the IPU’s activities around major issues and processes under the UN System, including the SGDs. There is also another committee that directly deals with the subject-matter, the Standing Committee on Sustainable Development, Finance and Trade. Within this institutional framework the IPU is since long time closely working with national parliaments and the UN towards the development of a coherent notion on Sustainable Development and adoption of the SDGs and the Post-2015 agenda.

 

 

The Work of the IPU and the National Parliaments on the SDGs

The Quito Communite

The IPU has developed its Strategy for 2012 – 2017, which is a basic instrument that underlines the major goals of the IPU for the current five years we are going through. The promotion of the SDGs is so fundamental for the IPU, that there is a Strategic Objective 5 as part of this Strategy that specifically addresses the issue on how to build parliamentary support for the SDGs and to contribute to the post-2015 agenda.

Specifically in April 2013, in Quito, the final Communique of the 128th IPU Assembly set the tone for the IPU’s engagement in the UN-led consultations on the new set of the SDGs. The main conclusions of the Quito Communique included the need for a new economic model of development centered on human well-being as opposed to pure economic growth, and for a stand-alone goal on democratic governance.

A major stepping stone in bringing the views of parliamentarians to the UN was the November 2013 Parliamentary Hearing before the UN in NYC.  To advance this vision, the IPU engaged actively in the year-long work of the UN Open Working Group on SDGs, which issued its final report in July.

We need to remember that Democratic Governance is both an end and a means of sustainable development. Democratic governance is a pillar of sustainable development.

The SGDs should be governed by a holistic, eco-centric approach, if they are to be sustainable. The first rules to include in the systems are the rules of environmental sustainability, which are not obvious in the enumeration of both the goals and targets we have up to now. For instance, there is no reference to the principle of the respect to the carrying capacity of the ecosystem, one of the main principles of sustainable development or, as otherwise placed, there is no mentioning of ‘limits to growth’, ‘planetary boundaries’ or the physical limits of Planet Earth, as the background documentation of the conference comments.

The SDGs, along with other international instruments should lead to a goal of development that we could summarize as “smart, inclusive sustainable development”. The SDGs are the overarching, ultimate goals that every other multilateral agreement should also serve. Regarding the people, we should invest in the openness and transparency in the forthcoming negotiations on the Post-2015 Agenda and the climate change negotiations.  IPU is here to contribute to this! To this end, the IPU supports a parliamentary component also regarding the ongoing negotiations on climate change that will take place next month in Lima, Peru.

 

 

 

Part B: The Climate Change Processes

 

Lima should pave the way in order to reach a climate agreement in Paris in 2015. The most important outcome of the Climate Change Conference will be the draft text that will be the negotiating instrument for a binding agreement that the countries will have to sign next year, in order to replace the binding Kyoto Protocol that will expire in 2015.

In 2015, during the Climate Change Conference in Paris, the world will be attending breathless what both the traditional and new and emerging Powers will decide; namely, whether they will bind themselves with an obligatory agreement or not – a fact that will not only impose on them legal and enforceable obligations, but it  will, most of all, signify their decisiveness to actually contribute to the mitigation and adaptation to climate change.

Until August, the messages we were receiving were not that encouraging. However, a seminal event just occurred that has changed our prospects on the issue and shed bright light regarding the upcoming negotiations; the seminal 2014 Climate Summit that took place on September 23, 2014, at the UN Headquarters in NYC organized by the Secretary-General of the UN, His Excellency, Mr. Ban Ki Moon. Countries have agreed on the need for a meaningful, robust, universal, legal climate agreement by 2015.

The Summit served as a public platform for leaders at the highest level – all UN Member States, as well as finance, business, civil society and local leaders from public and private sectors – to reduce climate change emissions and strongly support political will for an ambitious global agreement by 2015 that limits the world to a less than 2-degree Celsius rise in global temperature. The UNSG asked leaders from government, business, finance and civil society to crystallize a global vision for low-carbon economic growth and to advance climate action on five fronts: cutting emissions; mobilizing money and markets; pricing carbon; strengthening resilience; and mobilizing new coalitions.

Indeed the meeting created Convergence on a Long-Term Vision. A comprehensive global vision on climate change emerged from the statements of leaders at the Summit:

World leaders agreed that climate change is a defining issue of our time and that bold action is needed today to reduce emissions and build resilience and that they would lead this effort;

Leaders acknowledged that climate action should be undertaken within the context of efforts to eradicate extreme poverty and promote sustainable development (SDGs related;)

Leaders committed to limit global temperature rise to less than 2 degrees Celsius from pre-industrial levels;

Leaders committed to finalise a meaningful, universal new agreement under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) at COP-21, in Paris in 2015, and to arrive at the first draft of such an agreement at COP-20 in Lima, in December 2014;

Leaders concurred that the new agreement should be effective, durable and comprehensive and that it should balance support for mitigation and adaptation. Many underlined the importance of addressing loss and damage (in case of natural disasters related to climate change events);

Many leaders affirmed their commitment to submit their Intended Nationally Determined Contributions (INDCs) for the new agreement in the first quarter of 2015; and

Many leaders reaffirmed the objectives and principles of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), including the principles of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities. In addition, others highlighted that the global effort to meet the climate challenge should reflect evolving realities and circumstances.

 

 

Cutting Emissions

Without significant cuts in emissions by all countries, in key sectors, the window of opportunity to stay within less than 2 degrees will soon close forever:

Many leaders, from all regions and all levels of economic development advocated for a peak in greenhouse gas emissions before 2020, dramatically reduced emissions thereafter, and climate neutrality in the second half of the century;

European Union countries committed to a target of reducing emissions to 40 per cent below 1990 levels by 2030;

Leaders from more than 40 countries, 30 cities, and dozens of corporations launched large-scale commitment to double the rate of global energy efficiency by 2030 through vehicle fuel efficiency, lighting, appliances, buildings and district energy;

The New York Declaration on Forests aims to halve the loss of natural forests globally by 2020 and strives to end it by 2030;

Twenty-four leading global producers of palm oil as well as commodities traders committed to contribute to the goal of zero net deforestation by 2020 and to work with Governments, private sector partners and indigenous peoples to ensure a sustainable supply chain;

The transport sector brought substantial emissions reduction commitments linked to trains, public transportation, freight, aviation and electric cars, which together could save $70 trillion by 2050 with lower spending on vehicles, fuel and transport infrastructure;

Some of the world’s largest food producers and retailers committed to help farmers reduce emissions and build resilience to climate change.

 

 

Moving Markets and Mobilizing Money and New Policies

Moving markets across a wide range of sectors is essential in order to transform economies at scale. Mobilizing sufficient public and private funds for low carbon, climate resilient growth is essential to keep within a less than 2 degree Celsius pathway.

The insurance industry committed to double its green investments to $84 billion by the end of 2015, and announced their intention to increase the amount placed in climate-smart development to ten times the current amount by 2020.

Leaders of the oil and gas industry, along with national Governments and civil society organisations, made an historic commitment to identify and reduce methane emissions by 2020.

A new coalition of more than 160 institutions and local Governments and more than 500 individuals committed to divesting $50 billion from fossil fuel investments within the next three-five years and reinvest in new energy sources.

We have to restructure agriculture. The warming of the planet is already affecting yields of crucial crops. Moreover, approximately one-quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions come from land-use, making sustainable practices in agriculture critical.

We also need to rebuild our cities. Being responsible for about 70 per cent of global greenhouse gas emissions, cities can play a critical role in reducing these emissions – especially as their populations surge over the coming decades and many cities struggle with aging and inadequate infrastructure. Climate change increases the risk and stress to water, sewer, drainage and transportation systems, as well as infrastructure, as these systems are more exposed to the impact of increasingly powerful hurricanes, typhoons and other natural disasters. Clear greenhouse gas reduction goals, viable strategies, enhanced capacity and tangible financing are essential for cities to reduce emissions and become increasingly resilient.

Last, we need to rethink Energy. About 80 per cent of the world’s energy is supplied through the combustion of fossil fuels, which releases carbon dioxide and other pollutants into the atmosphere. At the same time, energy demand is growing. A shift toward renewable sources of energy, such as solar, wind and geothermal — along with greater energy efficiency in appliances, buildings, lighting and vehicles — is essential to use the world’s resources sustainably, diversify economies and successfully address the challenge of climate changes.

An initiative led by the United Nations and World Bank has set 2030 as a goal for doubling the global rate of energy efficiency improvement, doubling renewable energy’s share in the global energy mix, and ensuring universal access to modern energy services.

 

In addition, I would like to draw your attention to a development that occurred last year, in Warsaw, regarding the adoption of the Warsaw Mechanisms on Loss and Damages of developing countries, including effects related to extreme events and slow onset events, in developing countries that are particularly vulnerable to the adverse effects of climate change. Let’s remind ourselves that also the region of the Mediterranean Sea, where we all live, is vulnerable to climate change.

 

Conclusion

Countries are presently working toward a new climate agreement and a new set of sustainable development goals, two international instruments that will both be concluded in 2015. The objectives of both of these processes present an unprecedented opportunity for nature and humanity. Eradicating poverty and restructuring the global economy to hold global temperature rise below 2 degrees Celsius are goals that – acted on together – can provide prosperity and security for the current  and the future generations.

Regarding the leaders, now it is time for them to join the race for transformative action that can drive economic competitiveness and sustainable prosperity for all.

According to Christiana Figueres, Executive Director of the Secretariat of the UNFCCC: “The only safe path forward is to arrive in a carbon neutral world in the second half of this century”  – I would add: the earlier, the better. This is our common goal. We know what we want and we know how to achieve it.

Let’s bring, through our policies, the harmony all living beings need. Last, let me refer to the Rio+20 Outcome Document; let’s shape together ‘The future we want’! I welcome all of you in this joint effort!

 

Thank you!

By invitation of Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, M.P., Chairperson of the Special Permanent Committee on Environmental Protection of the Hellenic Parliament, the fourth seminar in Friends of Europe and EuropaNova’s European Young Leaders: “40 under 40” programme took place in Athens, Greece. Dr. Avgerinopoulou, selected among the first group of European Young Leader in 2011-2012, welcomed the “40 under 40” group who met in her home-country from June 13-15 2013, highlighting the challenges and the arduous efforts of the Greek people to overcome the crisis and build a better life for future generations.

The European Young Leaders ’40 under 40’ programme, launched two years ago and led by the think-tanks EuropaNova and Friends of Europe, aims to promote a European identity and develop leadership by engaging 40 of the European Union’s brightest minds in initiatives that will shape Europe’s future. Each year, forty young leaders, from diverse professional and cultural backgrounds and various European nationalities, are carefully selected to take part in a series of biannual 3-day meetings. The Young Leaders are asked to reflect upon the major problems confronting Europe and to generate innovative ideas that can provide lasting solutions. The European Young Leaders ‘40 under 40’ programme is a unique European leadership initiative that aims to create a new generation of opinion leaders shaping the future of our continent and joining forces to foster our decision-makers’ long-term vision.

New generation of European Young Leaders met in Athens and discussed about the economic future, as well as the overall European integration dynamic, using Greece as an example. Issues discussed at the seminar included democracy and fighting extremism, youth unemployment and prospects for a European “renewal”.

The seminar kicked off with an open discussion between the Young Leaders and the former Greek Foreign Affairs Minister Dimitris Avramopoulos. Building a strong post-crisis Europe will be contingent on fostering unity in union, Avramopoulos said, adding that “we must get away from our fatalist analysis of our situation and offer hope, direction, and a cohesive narrative to younger generations of Europeans.”

Dr. Avgerinopoulou addressed the issue of Euro-Mediterranean Partnership, as a way of positive cooperation between EU Member States, African and Middle East countries. In her speech Dr. Avgerinopoulou said that the EU should devote more funds and expertise in order to further support neighboring countries efforts in achieving environmental and energy goals. She also emphasized on the importance of European Young Leaders and the new generation of Europeans as a whole in developing and promoting a sustainable, inclusive economic model for the region and the world.

At the panel discussions Guillaume Klossa, President of EuropaNova, and Giles Merritt Secretary General of Friends of Europe made the opening remarks, while Ioannis Karkalis, Special Advisor to the Director of the European Public Law Organization (EPLO) welcomed the “40 under 40” to the Sounion installations of (EPLO). Assia BenSalah Alaoui, Ambassador at Large of King Mohamed VI of the Kingdom of Morocco, Dawood Azami, Senior Broadcast Journalist for the BBC World Service and Souad Mekhennet, Journalist for The New York Times, ZDF and Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung were among the speakers of the seminar.

Dr. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, M.P Chairperson of the Special Parliamentary Committee on Environmental Protection, is representing the Hellenic Parliament in the United Nation’s Framework Convention on Climate Change that is being held in Doha, Qatar.

Ms. Avgerinopoulou, having extensive experience in international law, environmental protection and climate change, will be attending three meetings. First is the informal ministerial meeting organized within the framework of the international Convention. The second meeting will showcase an Innovative Finance Pillar to deal with climate change. The final meeting, “Women for Results”, will examine how women can build momentum for stronger climate action. Our country should be present, voicing its opinion on these important issues since, as an EU member state, these international agreements will be legally binding, should they be voted into law.

195 nations and international organizations are taking part in the UN’s Framework Convention on Climate Change. The Conventions’ mission is to develop the framework that will deal with climate change while supporting sustainable development for the planet.

The conventions’ priorities revolve around four main axes: adapting natural ecosystems and socio-economic systems to climate change, funding research and adaptation activities from national, international, public, private and alternative funding sources, and the curbing of greenhouse gases. Carbon dioxide emissions increased by 70% from 1970 to 2004, with a further increase expected over the next decades. The international conference will examine how new technologies can provide the necessary tools to develop and share environmentally friendly practices that achieve sustainable development.

In 2010, an agreement was reached by all participants regarding the reduction of greenhouse gases like carbon dioxide, so that the average temperature of the planet will not increase by more than two degrees Celsius. The question today is whether this agreement is being implemented.

Promoting policies that can address the youth unemployment problem and attract more foreign investments to Greece, is Mrs. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou’s goal during her participation at the inaugural Annual Curators Meeting of the “Global Shapers” community, organized by the World Economic Forum.

The Meeting began yesterday evening in Switzerland and will last until August 28. It brings together the Curators of the “Global Shapers”, the largest and most significant youth platform, a community of entrepreneurs, academics, scientists, activists, politicians between 20 and 30 years, who exchange views, ideas and take initiatives, in order to shape the world, serving common good.

At the first Annual Meeting of the «Global Shapers» curators of the World Economic Forum representatives from 168 cities from all over the world, will be attending debating on education, environment and employment.

Ms..Avgerinopoulou, M.P stresses that individuals, countries and businesses need to give more educational and professional opportunities to young people in order to overcome the economic crisis. This is even more pressing, in countries like Greece, or Spain where rates of youth unemployment have exceeded 52.1%.

Ms..Avgerinopoulou, holds the responsibility of establishing the «Global Shapers» hub Greece, as she was selected a “Young Global Leader” by W.E.F in March 2011.

The «Global Shapers» community offers young people the opportunity to exchange ideas, undertake projects and shape the global policy agenda on a number of global challenges. It also improves their career prospects through training programs in famous foreign universities and  makes it possible for them to attend international and regional meetings of the World Economic Forum.

Members of the “Global Shapers” Greek hub of the World Economic Forum held their third meeting in a row yesterday, at the OpenFund offices in Athens. Young people between 20-30 years old, gathered at the initiative of Ms.Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou M.P., member of the “Young Global Leaders” of the World Economic Forum who is the Curator of  the Global Shapers community in Greece.

The Greek hub’s members are young people with hopes, ideas, and will to change the world. They have the opportunity to shape the future, the future of Greece, serving common good. Each and every one of them have already demonstrated exceptional skills, vision and remarkable talents in their fields. M.s Avgerinopoulou stressed that her primary goal as a Curator is to help young people get in touch with companies and universities abroad.

Members of the Global Shapers community of Greece have already participated in the conferences of Davos and Constantinople, and they were excited to be given the unique opportunity to meet with representatives of the biggest companies in the planet, and exchange views and ideas with some of the most prominent business leaders of the world. They were also thrilled to have opened new professional and academic horizons.

In their last meeting, Global Shapers Athens hub agreed to create a communication platform in order to facilitate young people with exceptional qualifications and skills to find a job or study abroad. This is an initiative that aims to deal with soaring youth unemployment. It was also decided to further promote Ms. Avgerinopoulou’s initiative “Platform for Greece” in order to attract more foreign investments to Greece.

Ms. Avgerinopoulou will participate in the inaugural global meeting of all Curators of the Global Shapers Community of the World Economic Forum, that will be held in Switzerland between 22-27 of August.

The crucial message of upgrading prevention, co-ordination and regional co-operation in response to environmental emergencies was stressed by members of the international Steering Committee on Environmental Emergencies during their recent three-day visit and meeting in Greece. UN Officials of the Joint United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA) convened for the first time in Ancient Olympia. They conferred with Members of the Hellenic Parliament and visited areas of the Ilia region destroyed by the wildfires of 2007, accepting the invitation of the “Green Star” awardee, Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou Member of the Hellenic Parliament.

The visit of the Steering Committee took place from November 30-December 2 and was a successful one, by all means. The Committee discussed, amongst others, issues of particular interest to the Greek people and including ways of raising preparedness levels of the civilian protection mechanism in order to respond more efficiently in cases of environmental emergencies and natural disasters.

On November 30, the Steering Committee had discussions with four competent Committees of the Hellenic Parliament, in a special working session. Mr. Chris Dijkens, Chair of the Steering Committee on Environmental Emergencies presented to parliamentarians from all sides of the political spectrum, the role of the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environmental Unit. Mr. Dijkens stressed the importance of preparing for environmental emergencies and explained the significance of strengthening the capacities of Regional Organizations to respond to environmental crises in their region, and of further supporting the Environmental Emergencies Centre, a major project of the Joint Environment Unit.

Ms. Avgerinopoulou M.P has since last February proposed the foundation of a Regional Co-Ordination Center, to be headquartered in Greece, so that it can quickly coordinate volunteers to neighboring countries in case of environmental emergencies. In her welcome speech, Ms. Avgerinopoulou restated that Greece has the capacity and the ability to play a key role in such a regional organization and strongly supported the position document on environmental emergencies that was submitted by the Advisory Group on Environmental Emergencies to the Earth Summit on Sustainable Development (Rio+20).

It was these propositions that took a center stage at the special public event presenting the accomplishments of the Steering Committee at the King George Hotel, that was organized that same night by the President of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology (E.I.L.S.T), Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou. Members of the Hellenic Parliament, diplomats, and representatives of institutions that helped restore and provided assistance to villages of the Ilia Prefecture, scientists, representatives of the civil society and dozens of Greek people were informed on the role and work of the Steering Committee. During the public event, Ms. Avgerinopoulou, President of E.I.L.S.T , a research non for profit N.G.O, referred also to the extensive pro bono work done by the institute for the restoration of Ilia and honored  people and volunteers that provided help.

A “Prize of Excellence in Solidarity” was bestowed to the “Marianna Vardinogiannis Institute”, to the Republic of Cyprus, to the Mayor of Ixelles Mr.Willy Decourty and the “Paneliakos Association of America and Canada” for their solid assistance to devastated villages Makistos, and Artemida, as well as the Zacharo municipality and the Ilia Prefecture, in general.

On December 1, the Steering Committee had their successful meeting in the birthplace of the Olympic spirit, the place that was the cradle of the ecumenical spirit of solidarity, volunteerism and excellence. Their meeting took place, at the premises of the International Olympic Academy (I.O.A), by courtesy of the I.O.C (A?).

On December 2, the Steering Committee accompanied by Ms. Avgerinopoulou and state and local officials had the opportunity to meet and discuss with emergency responders of the Ilia area, and with people affected by the 2007 wildfires. The Steering Committee visited the fire brigade outpost in the city of Krestena, the “2000 Natura” protected ecosystem of Lake Kaiafa, and the villages Artemida and Makistos, that still suffer the consequences of the fires. The Steering Committee was informed by the local people, members of the forestry authority as well as volunteer emergency responder groups on the challenges that they continue to face.

At the end of their field trip at the afflicted areas a special public event was organized by Ms. Avgerinopoulou in Pyrgos the capital of the Ilia Prefecture.  The Steering Committee was applauded by the public, not only for choosing to visit their area, but also because they offered various suggestions to the audience on improving the response to environmental and natural disasters.

During the vivid discussion with local people, local volunteer rescue teams and environment associations the President of the General Assembly of the International Civil Protection Organization, Dr. Jean Pierre Nana, called Greece to join the organization and proposed support in setting up a Regional Training Center for Civil Protection units in Greece and assistance in training Greek members of civil protection forces, assistance in boosting the capacity of volunteer responders, and assistance in setting up an “early warning system” of emergencies. From his part, Mr. Rene Nijenhuis of the Joint Envrionment Unit promised to share the know-how acquired by his team and the “Guidelines of the International Search and Rescue  Advisory Group (INSARAG)” with local volunteers to base their future actions on.

The event was closed by Mr. Dijkens who warmly thanked Ms.Avgerinopoulou for hosting the Meeting in Greece, not only because it provided the Steering Committee with useful exchange of experience but also for the Greek hospitality and its symbolic nature. During the public event, Mr. Vladimir Sakharov, OCHA, Chief of the Joint UNEP/ OCHA Environment Unit thanked Ms. Avgerinopoulou for the warm hospitality, for her stamina in promoting environmental emergencies issues and presented her with a token of appreciation, a small UN flag.

A video interview with Chinese state news agency, Xinhua, was given yesterday by Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou MP, in the wake of the economic turbulence, which was caused after Standard &Poor’s downgraded the creditworthiness of the United States of America.

Ms. Avgerinopoulou noted that the recent sharp swings in the financial markets prove that the problems of the global economy are inherent, existed for several years, and are certainly not limited or caused by the problems of the Greek economy, as it is evident by the problems of debt and sluggish growth of the major economies of the world.

“Global crisis has its roots in unsustainable policies. The imbalances that are caused need to be addressed immediately through global co-operation. Short-term and long term solutions that will re-engineer international practices and international institutions need to be devised and implemented without delay. Especially for the Eurozone the issuance of Eurobonds is certainly necessary”.

Ms. Avgerinopoulou also stressed that during the reorganization of the UN that is in play and within the Economic and Social Council of the Organization, international practices and procedures that have proved to be inadequate can be regenerated in response to new social and economic challenges.

Dionysia Avgerinopoulou MP, also a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum noted that in their current modus operandi, and as their score has proven so far, the assessments of Credit Rating Agencies are only indicative of the economic progress of countries and companies. Apart from a European Rating Agency, whose establishment is now proposed by the European states a Credit Rating Agency with an international scope and with active participation of states needs to be established in order to provide greater reliability and transparency.

To avoid deepening of the global economic crisis, developed and developing countries as well, need to tackle high unemployment rates, and instill a new vision for the global economy. Restructuring the global economy based on better education of the human capital will bring about innovation in all productive sectors. In the interview with the largest Chinese news agency, Ms. Avgerinopoulou as Deputy Head of Environment Sector Policies of her party, New Democracy, emphasized strongly on the need for “sustainable and rapid” development for Greece. She noted that orchestrated effort is necessary to be put in new but also traditional economic sectors such as tourism, shipping and agriculture. “Greece has rich resources. We only need to find efficient tools for managing them, “she said.

In an honorary ceremony that took place at the new Congress Hall at the premises of the International Olympic Academy, in Ancient Olympia, “Green Star” Award winner for her pro bono work on environmental emergencies, Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Member of the Hellenic Parliament, dedicated her award to the people of her hometown, Zacharo, and the Prefecture of Ilia, Greece.  Ms. Avgerinopoulou serves as the Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector of the New Democracy Party and Director of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology (EILST), a non-profit, non-governmental organization.

Ms. Vicki Pantazopoulou, Honorary Consul of Kenya in Greece, presented the “Green Star” Awards, that recognize those who have made remarkable efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to environmental emergencies around the world. A joint initiative between the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Green Cross International and the UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA), introduced in 2007 and presented every two years, the Award aims to raise awareness of environmental emergencies and disasters; encourage increased international efforts to prevent, prepare for and respond to such disasters; amplify the connection between environmental impacts of disasters and emergencies, and the consequences for affected populations and providers of humanitarian assistance. Ms. Avgerinopoulou received the Award for her consistent efforts in preventing, preparing for and alleviating the consequences of natural disasters both in her home-country, Greece, and worldwide.

Ms. Avgerinopoulou acknowledged the important humanitarian and environmental work by the United Nations Environment Programme, the Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs and the Green Cross International, while she publicly thanked the aforementioned agencies for the special honor bestowed to her.  In a symbolic gesture, Ms. Avgerinopoulou stressed that the award belongs to people of the region and the people that voluntarily helped the natural environment and those in need. She emphasized the importance of the United Nations efforts in addressing serious challenges after environmental disasters. She also assured the people of Ilia Prefecture that the international community has not forgotten them, as this award shows. Ms. Avgerinopoulou expressed her gratitude to Mr. Isidoros Kouvelos, President of the International Olympic Academηυ, Mr. Spiridon Kapralos, President of the Hellenic Olympic Committee and Mr. Dionysios Gaggas Director of the International Olympic Academic for their support to the event.

Due to her Presidency at the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology Green Star award winner Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou gave special recognition and nominated academics, diplomats, scientists, school children, teachers and journalists who voluntarily contributed in a ten-month reconstruction program in Ilia.

A Volunteers’ Award was bestowed to Mr. Nektarios Polychroniou, Consul of Botswana in Greece and to his wife, Angelika Katsigianni, for their contribution in raising awareness among foreign nations, as well as for providing pro bono legal advice to the local communities. Volunteerism award was given to Mr. Nikos Chronis, assistant professor in bio-medical engineering (University of Ann Arbor, Michigan), who helped coordinating contributions of foreign universities to the reconstruction efforts at the Ilia Prefecture, as well as his overall humanitarian and research work.

Volunteerism Award was also given to Mr. Christos Skouteris and the photographic team of the High-school in Zacharo for depicting the first flowers flourishing on the burnt land and offering, thus, hope to the people of the region. Another Award was bestowed to Mr. Ioannis Kanellopoulos, professional photographer, for co-organizing the largest photographic exhibition on the theme along with the EILST, the Union of Foreign Press/reporters and the Association of Greek Photo reporters.

Awards were also given to Mr. George Keramitzoglou, reporter of “SKAI” radio and television for organizing reforestation programs in the area, as well as for assisting in the set up of the initiative “Observatory of Ilia” cooperation with “Ionion Fm”. Special Award was given to Ms. Eleonora Meleti, journalist of “Star” Channel for her constant efforts in addressing local challenges and for promoting tourism in healthy part of the burnt areas. Volunteer’s Award was also given to Ms. Katerina Bassakali, Foreign News Editor of “Apogevmatini” newspaper for her coverage of climate change and how the phenomenon is affecting Greece.

Awards were bestowed to the honorees by Olympic Medalists Ms. Sarah Wincless (Gr.Britain), Ms. Inga Babakova (Ukraine), Ms. Sylvia Poll (Costa Rica), Mr. Razvan Florea (Romania), Mr. Steven Mesler (USA) and Mr. Michail Nestruev. The latter were decorated by the M.P. and Director of EILST, Ms. Avgerinopoulou, for conveying the message of the Olympic solidarity worldwide.

In a special ceremony honoring leaders in environmental protection, that took place in Bern  on May 18, 2011, Switzerland, Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou, Member of the Hellenic Parliament, was bestowed the Greenstar Award by the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP), the Green Cross International and the UN Office of Coordination for Humanitarian Affairs (OCHA). Ms. Avgerinopoulou received the Award for her consistent efforts in preventing, preparing for and alleviating the consequences of natural disasters both in her home-country, Greece, and worldwide.

The Green Star Awards recognize those who have made remarkable efforts to prevent, prepare for, and respond to environmental emergencies around the world. A joint initiative between the UNEP, OCHA Green Cross International, introduced in 2007 and presented every two years, the Award aims to raise awareness of environmental emergencies and disasters; encourage increased international efforts to prevent, prepare for and respond to such disasters; amplify the connection between environmental impacts of disasters and emergencies, and the consequences for affected populations and providers of humanitarian assistance.

Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou is an international lawyer, specialized in International Environmental Law, a Member of the Hellenic Parliament and the Deputy Head of the Environmental Policy Sector of the New Democracy Party, the major opposition party in Greece. In 2005, Dionysia served as Special Advisor to the Permanent Mission of the European Commission to the United Nations. In this role, she supported the development of infrastructure for environmental emergencies in under-developed regions, while in early 2007 she proposed the establishment of a Climate Change Center for the Mediterranean and the Black Sea, which may also correspond to environmental emergencies in these areas.

Following the wildfires that devastated parts of her hometown in south-eastern Greece in 2007, under her capacity as the founder and president of the European Institute of Law, Science and Technology (EILST), a non-profit research organization that seeks to improve international and national legislation through better integration of scientific and technological achievements in laws and policies, Dionysia led a major pro bono project to support reconstruction efforts.

Following the devastating earthquake in Haiti in February 2010, Dionysia, as a member of the Euro-American Women’s Council, contributed to the fundraising efforts to reconstruct Haiti and to this end she was also awarded the Global Citizen Award for Leadership in Helping Humanity by the “Orphans International Worldwide” (OIW), an international NGO. She currently supports one of the projects of the OIW to found a university at Port-au-Prince. Further, Ms. Avgerinopoulou, as a Young Global Leader of the World Economic Forum, supports an initiative led by other Young Global Leaders, to offer high quality education to orphans after the earthquake and the tsunami in Japan in 2011.

In her capacity as the Deputy Head of the Environmental Sector of the New Democracy Party, the major opposition party in Greece, Dionysia places additional importance to the prevention and preparedness policies of the country, while she often exercises parliamentary control over the completion of the reconstruction efforts in various places in the country.  She also participates in reforestation efforts both in Greece, and abroad, such as in Haifa, Israel, after the fires of February 2010.

Last, but not least, Dionysia proposed the establishment of a regional voluntary coordinating unit for disaster response for Southeast Europe and the Middle East under the auspices of the European Union and the United Nations to facilitate efficient and effective coordinating assistance, while she supports the work of the newly established Environmental Emergencies Center under the auspices of the Joint UNEP/OCHA Environment Unit (JEU). Dionysia, upon receiving the award, asked the international community to place additional emphasis on the prevention of man-made environmental emergencies and she devoted her award to her compatriots in the Prefecture of Ilia, Southeastern Greece, since the region has not yet recovered after the wildfires in 2007.

(For more information on the award, please visit: www.unep.org/greenstar and http://www.unep.org/greenstar/laureates/2011/theodore.asp.)

Οn the occasion of this year’s commemoration, paying tribute to the victims of the Greek, Armenian and Assyrian Genocides, organized and hosted by Panthracian Union of America ‘Orpheus’ and supported by the Hellenic League of America, outside the United Nations in New York, Ms. Dionysia-Theodora Avgerinopoulou sent the following message:

Dearest friends and colleagues,

I join my voice with you here today, while you pay tribute to the victims of the Greek, Armenian and Assyrian Genocides. It is time to remind to the whole world, as represented by the United Nations, that these genocides occurred and they constitute crimes against humanity.

The recognition of the Genocides is an important act both for Hellenism all over the world and for the international community that should be largely supported. Such recognition will promote the rule of international law and will restore the historical truth and international justice. Most of all, it will educate future generations through the lessons of history and protect them from suffering under any similar devastating experience in the future.

Today, we honor those who passed away and we protect those that will be born.

My warmest greetings