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SC Andorra 041017OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen (third from left) opens the Standing Committee meeting in Andorra on 4 Oct. 2017.

ANDORRA LA VELLA, 5 October 2017 – Cybersecurity, climate change and the importance of education as a guarantee of stability were the focus of debate among some 180 parliamentarians taking part in the OSCE Parliamentary Assembly’s 2017 Autumn Meeting in Andorra this week.

Under the theme of “Security in the OSCE Area: New Challenges, New Tasks,” parliamentarians from across the OSCE region exchanged experiences and ideas related to security in the modern world. The three-day conference brought focused debate on how to co-operatively meet common challenges such as migration, terrorism, and protracted conflicts.

Following the closure of the meeting today, OSCE PA President Christine Muttonen (MP, Austria) reflected on the importance of all OSCE countries working together to address these issues, which she noted transcend national borders.

“Today’s world can no longer be divided between winners and losers. All of our countries are feeling the impact of climate change. We all have to adapt to make sure that modern technologies are used for constructive purposes rather than attacks that undermine the very bases for our societies. And we must all invest in our future through education,” said President Muttonen.

“We have to adjust to new realities, but we do not have to do this in isolation,” she added. “Joint action among States can yield effective results, and the OSCE, with its comprehensive security concept, is well-placed to serve as a forum for such co-operation.”

The meeting in Andorra featured addresses by senior officials, including the Prime Minister and Parliament Speaker of Andorra, as well as a range of experts on topical issues.

Santos chairing 031017OSCE PA Vice-President Isabel Santos and Xavier Espot Zamora, Minister of Justice, Home and Social Affairs of Andorra, at the session on addressing cybersecurity, Andorra, 3 Oct. 2017.On 3 October parliamentarians heard expert presentations and engaged on debate related to cybersecurity. While technology has made remarkable progress in people’s lives, participants noted, it has also brought about a wave of uncertainty, speculation and misinterpretation within inter-state relations. This, at times, has fueled mistrust and heightened tensions between governments, they said.

In recognition of these dangers, the OSCE has created initial voluntary confidence-building measures in order to reduce risks for conflicts stemming from cyber-incidents, OSCE Co-ordinator of Activities to Address Transnational Threats Rasa Ostrauskaite pointed out during the session.

“Cyber-attacks represent a serious threat to security in every social sphere, including government as well as the private and public sectors. There is no ignoring this threat, and we would be foolish to underestimate it,” said OSCE PA Vice-President Isabel Santos (Portugal), who chaired the discussions on cybersecurity. She also highlighted the need to protect critical infrastructure and increase focus on cyber threats stemming from non-state actors such as organized crime and terrorists.

Session two of the parliamentary conference was dedicated to environmental security, and particularly the threat of climate change.

Dobre address 041017OSCE PA Vice-President Victor Paul Dobre and Chair of the PA's economic and environmental committee Nilza Sena at session two, 4 Oct. 2017.“Climate change is not simply an environmental challenge. It is time that we view climate also from the very serious political, economic, social and humanitarian challenges it presents,” said Victor Paul Dobre, Vice-President of the OSCE PA (Romania). “The disproportionate impact that climate change is having particularly on low-income countries, which often lack the resources for adequate responses, requires attention from us all to avoid further humanitarian disasters.”

Parliamentarians voiced broad support for the Paris Agreement on climate change and for the need to steadily reduce carbon emissions and other greenhouse gases, while developing and promoting cleaner, renewable sources of energy. The discussions highlighted a number of good practices that already exist in this field. With growing impacts of climate change, it was noted that efficient management of water resources becomes even more pivotal, requiring greater international co-operation. Parliamentarians encouraged proactive work by the OSCE in this field, together with other international bodies.

Earlier today MPs met for discussions around the topic of “Promoting Education as a Guarantee of Stability and Development.”

Battelli chairing 051017OSCE PA Vice-President Roberto Battelli chairing the session on education at the Autumn Meeting in Andorra, 5 Oct. 2017.“In an era of budget cuts, spending on education is all too often a target for ‘savings.’ But such savings are illusive, as we pay an immense cost in years to come if we are not willing to invest to promote innovation and inclusiveness,” said Roberto Battelli, Vice-President of the OSCE PA (Slovenia). “Education is not an expendable item but rather an essential tool of conflict prevention and development that we must invest in.”

In the discussion, parliamentarians stressed the ability for education to contribute to social and international stability through teaching principles of diversity and tolerance, to combat radicalization, and to promote healing in post-conflict settings.

Challenges related to striking an appropriate balance between ensuring that all citizens of a country are proficient in the state language while respecting the right of persons belonging to national minorities to education in their mother tongue was also discussed. Participants stressed the particular challenge of education for refugees, noting that an entire generation of child refugees risk missing out on education and the prospect to positively shape their futures.

Hosted by the Andorra’s Consell General, the Autumn Meeting also included meetings of the Mediterranean Forum, the Assembly’s Standing Committee, as well as ad hoc committees including on migration and on counter-terrorism.

For more information about the Andorra meeting, please click here. Photos from the Autumn Meeting are available at the Consell General’s Flickr page.