CAIRO: A group of government ministers joined experts, dignitaries and representatives of NGOs and international organizations at Cairo House, Fustat, on Thursday to celebrate World Environment Day (WED 2008).
The event, which takes place on June 5 each year, is seen as an opportunity to raise awareness of environmental issues and their solutions. Ministers at Thursday’s event took the opportunity to point out the government’s own efforts towards this end.
In past years cities such as Barcelona, Tokyo, and Moscow have served as the primary hosts. Egypt joins the celebrations with activities held at Azhar Park on June 7 and Bibliotheca Alexandria on June 12.
Leading the group of ministers, who celebrated the event under the slogan Kick the Habit! Towards a Low Carbon Economy, was Maged George, minister of state for environmental affairs.
During the event, George announced the issuance of his ministry’s annual report. The report sums up the achievements of the ministry during the last three years, including promoting the use of natural gas as a clean fuel, the vehicle inspection program, monitoring air pollution, and the preparation of a survey of gas emission sources.
The ministry also issued a booklet on climate change, as well as special editions of its magazine Eyoun Al-Biya (Eyes of the Environment) and Bezra (Seed) magazine for children.
Egypt has taken big leaps in using clean development mechanism. It has become an attractive center for investors in the carbon trade, George said, adding that investments in clean development projects in Egypt were to the tune of $1.137 million spent on 38 projects until now.
He predicted that Egypt would reduce gas emissions by 6.5 million tons as the number of related projects hits 53.
George paid tribute to the work of several figures, from both government and civil society for their contributions to environmental protection.
Chief among them were Mohamed El-Guindy, former attorney-general, for his contribution to the environment conservation law, and Major General Sherif Goma, first assistant of the Ministry of Interior, for his efforts in implementing the law.
He also noted the contribution of Mohamed Salem, head of South Sinai natural reserves, for his efforts in developing the reserves.
Aside from detailing government success on environmental issues, the main message issued by ministers was that responsibility for protecting the environment falls not only to the government, but also to civil society.
In line with these comments, George praised Mohamed Abdel Moneim Al-Sawy, chairman of El Sawy Culture wheel in Zamalek, for his efforts in raising the public awareness of environmental issues.
Other attendees included Nadia Makram Ebeid, head of the Center for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), as well as representatives of European Union and United Nations bodies.
Other ministers in attendance were Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, president of the World Water Council and minister of water resources and irrigation; Hassan Ahmed Younes, minister of electricity and energy, and Ali Eddin Helal, minister of higher education.