Member-states of the South Asian Association for Regional Cooperation (SAARC) on Tuesday agreed to make a separate statement as an entity at the Copenhagen meet on climate change in December.

This was decided at the Delhi Statement on Cooperation in Environment that was adopted at the end of the SAARC Ministerial meeting here. Environment Ministers of seven SAARC countries parties participated in the meet while Pakistan was represented by its Environment Secretary.

“The SAARC statement will be in addition to the individual statements to be made by the countries. The statement will be made by Sri Lanka, current chair of the SAARC, on behalf of the member-states,” Minister of State (Independent charge) Environment and Forests Jairam Ramesh told reporters at a joint press conference of Environment Ministers.

As a side-event, the SAARC statement will highlight the vulnerabilities of the member-states and the actions taken by the countries domestically. All SAARC countries were vulnerable to floods, earthquakes, drought and vagaries of weather that have to be tackled together, Mr. Ramesh said.

It was decided to set up 50 automated weather stations in the region to monitor and measure variations to meet the challenges of climate change. The stations would come up in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Bhutan to begin with and the responsibility of opening these would largely be that of India. Afghanistan and Pakistan would be covered in the second phase and Maldives and Sri Lanka in the third phase.

Mr. Ramesh said India decided to extend a grant of $1 million for strengthening the forest centre at Thimpu and an equal amount for coastal zone management in the Maldives.

The Ministers recognised the critical importance of effective planning and management of environmental protection systems, including environmental pollution, and conservation of aquatic and marine ecosystems. They emphasised the need for cooperation in devising measures to develop capability for enhanced environmental management, Mr. Ramesh said.

According to the declaration, the Ministers underlined the importance of close cooperation in the run-up to the U.N. Climate Change Conference of Parties in Copenhagen with a view to enabling full, effective and sustained implementation of the UNFCCC.

They also underscored the need to fully implement the commitments under the Convention in accordance with its principles, especially that of equity and common but differentiated responsibilities and respective capabilities.

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