§ Mr. Gummer
With the Austrian Minister of the Environment, I co-hosted and chaired a meeting of a number of Environment Ministers from western and eastern Europe at Lancaster house on 12 and 13 June to discuss key issues for the forthcoming Sofia conference and to guide the officials engaged in the detailed preparations. There was a consensus that the conference should focus on further implementation of the environmental action programme for Europe under which countries of central and eastern Europe are being assisted to tackle their most serious environmental problems, and that to this end enhancing environmental investment, encouraging the private and business sectors to become fully involved and protecting biodiversity were key areas for attention. My colleagues agreed that the Sofia conference should produce a number of concrete projects to demonstrate how new ideas could be realised, including the development of pilot projects for joint implementation under the climate change convention and the sulphur protocol.
In addition we have co-sponsored with our Austrian colleagues a study of impediments to environmental investment from the perspective of central and eastern European countries and we are assisting the Bulgarians directly with the conference preparations through the provision of a high-level adviser.