Foreign Secretary outlines UK foreign environment policy

The British Foreign Secretary Robin Cook has spoken of the importance of the environment in Britain's foreign policy and of building an international coalition to respond to today's environmental challenges.


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Speaking to the Green Alliance on 15 February 1999, Cook announced a series of initiatives within the Foreign Office (FO) aimed at strengthening the UK’s commitment to environmental concerns, including a broad programme of secondments and the Climate Change Challenge Fund which will support climate projects in developing countries.

Cook called on business and commerce, pressure groups and the media to form “a global partnership to protect our global environment. It is a partnership around one clear message – ultimately, what we do to our planet we do to ourselves and our children.”

The Foreign Secretary said that the programme of secondments will strengthen the FO’s environment department. Cook said that the FO will invite a secondment from an environmental organisation, in order to build a closer dialogue between government and the environmental movement.

A secondment from business is intended to strengthen the FO’s partnership with business “both to protect the environment and to promote exports from Britain’s strong environmental industries.”

Cook said the FO had also agreed a series of secondments for “young future leaders from developing countries.” This programme will be organised through the ‘Leadership for Environment And Development’ programme based in New York and is intended to “break down the suspicion between North and South.”

The FO is also to contribute £500,000 to launch the Climate Change Challenge Fund. Set up in cooperation with the DETR, the Department for International Development and the Department of Trade and Industry, the fund will help the FO make use of British expertise in clean technologies and renewable energies. The fund will also help developing countries build the capacity needed to “combine healthy growth with low emissions of greenhouse gases.”

The UK government will shortly publish a White Paper on the Overseas Territories. The White Paper will set out the Government’s “renewed determination to protect their environments.” Cook said the FO aims “to build sustainability and proper resource management into their economies, to protect their fragile ecosystems from further degradation, and to find viable alternatives to the depletion of scarce resources. “

Cook also announced plans for a British-German forum on the environment, bringing together the two governments, NGOs and businesses to look at how to deal with environmental problems.

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