Geneva (CH), 8 March 2012
More than 200 regional government councillors and experts from around the world attended the conference "On the road to Rio: regions building the green economy” organised by the Assembly of European Regions (AER) and the R20 (Regions of Climate Action) in Geneva. The purpose of this event was to emphasize with concrete examples the important role that regions and federal states play in the transition to a sustainable green economy. The conference allowed regional politicians, representatives of institutions and business leaders to show that the fight against climate change cannot succeed without building a sustainable economy, by focusing on practical solutions and employing efficient standardized assessment tools.
“What unites AER and R20 is the certainty that economic growth and the fight against climate change are not incompatible," said Michèle SABBAN, President of AER. "Tomorrow's growth will be green growth or there will be no growth at all, and it will rely on our regions, which are the main actors of change in the field", she added.
Examples of the ability of European regions to face environmental challenges were given by several members of AER: Kenneth BACKGÅRD, County Councillor of Norrbotten (S) and President of the AER Working Group on Climate Change and Energy, Marianne SAENEN, Member of Parliament of Wallonie (B), Yves PIETRASANTA, Vice-President of Languedoc-Roussillon (F) in charge of Sustainable Development, Environment and Energy, and Rodrigo OLIVEIRA, Undersecretary for European Affairs and External Cooperation of the Autonomous Government of the Azores (P).
The message has now been heard by the Heads of State and Governments. In the presence of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Reta Jo Lewis, Special Representative of Hillary Clinton, invited President Sabban to come to Washington with a delegation of European policitians. The aim of this mission is to bring together the U.S. Federated States and Europe's regions to initiate joint projects in sustainable development. Being now aware that 50 to 80% of the actions having a positive impact on the environment are taken at the subnational level, the U.S. federal government is therefore particularly eager to join this project.
Today the General Assembly of R20 has elected Michèle Sabban as the President of its Board. The R20 was launched in the late 2010 with the objective of gathering the world’s regional authorities that are ready to implement concrete solutions against climate change. Arnold Schwarzenegger stays the Honorary President of R20.
The Assembly of European Regions (AER – aer.eu) is the largest independent network of regions in wider Europe. Bringing together more than 250 regions from 35 countries and 16 interregional organisations, AER is the political voice of its members and a forum for interregional co-operation.
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