In light of the UN Conference on Sustainable Development, known as RIO +20, Cairo Climate Talks held its 8th monthly panel discussion on the topic “Paving the way to a Sustainable Egypt” in the premises of the DAAD. The panel was moderated by journalist Amira El-Ahl.
Dr. Günther Bachmann, Secretary General of the German Council for Sustainable Development, having been to RIO +20 gave a short overview on the outcome of the UN conference. As environmentalists we should not be disappointed: on a factual level the countries with full participation of civil society, renewed their commitment to sustainable development and to ensuring the promotion of an economically, socially and environmentally sustainable future for our planet and for present and future generations.
Dr. Ibrahim Abou Leish, Founder and Chairman of SEKEM Initiative, acknowledged a difference in the concept of sustainable development in the industrialized and developing countries. “Differences reflect the level of consciousness. In Egypt we need much more awareness and education on the subject.” The newly established Heliopolis University for Sustainable Development wants accomplish exactly this.
Dr. Abou Leish also recognized the process-nature of sustainability: everyone predicted failure when he started his project 35 years ago. “Time proved otherwise. Organic products have a market in Egypt” he added. “True, customers are health conscious and more educated, but the circle is expanding.”
Syada Greiss, Head of Environmental Protection Association, said “sustainable development and environmental protection go hand in hand. For example solid waste management goes parallel with recycling.”
Syada Greiss focused on the gender perspective in the discussion. “No society is sustainable without the integration of its other half: women. We believe in the participation of women, because they suffer under cultural barriers. In a non-sustainable business world a lot of exploitation exists: often female employers are rejected because of the fear of maternity leave, Greiss explained. Yet they raise children who will be future citizens of this country.
Dr. Bachmann also explained “the concept of the green economy simply means regarding nature’s wealth as capital, and take into account when drafting financial plan.” Kyoto protocol was a successful tool by putting a price label on the CO2 emissions. Sustainability includes leading a responsible lifestyle that avoids high consumerism, with rationalization of water and electricity, Greiss added. The government organizations can set an example. Commenting on the evening H.E. Mr. Michael Bock, the Ambassador of the Federal Republic of Germany stated that we should not perceive the issue in abstract terms. Sustainable development simply means using the resources responsibly to make sure they exist.
Above quotes are excerpted from “Press Release (English)”.
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