9 SEPTEMBER 2003
Queen Noor of Jordan stepped into her role as patron of the World Parks Congress (WPC) on Monday, joining two South African leaders – President Thabo Mbeki and his predecessor, Nelson Mandela – at the once-in-a-decade global environment meeting in Durban.
Radiant in pink, Queen Noor shared centre stage with the two statesmen as they kicked off the ten-day congress, which aims to address issues related to protected areas around the globe, from national parks to marine sanctuaries. The 52-year-old widow of King Hussein spoke of the importance of partnerships as the only viable option for the preservation of the environment, and Mr Mandela promoted youth involvement as the key to the future.
President Mbeki, meanwhile, pointed out the links between alleviating poverty and improving conservation, saying: "It is critically important that alternative means of livelihood be found for the poor in the world, so that they are not forced to act in a manner that undermines the global effort to protect these ecosystems, driven by hunger and underdevelopment."
More than 2,500 dignitaries, local leaders, businesspeople and conservationists from over 170 countries are taking part in this year's event, which is run by the World Conservation Union.