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written by  Dr.Salah Hassanein


THE CHALLENGE

The fast increase in air, water and soil pollution in Egypt has become a real threat to the people’s health. If we continue the present course, we shall be faced with a catastrophic and irreversible deterioration of our environment. The economic consequences in terms of dealing with the health effects in the next 5-10 years, such as cancer, emphysema, asthma, kidney & liver failures, heavy metal poisoning, will be staggering (in tens of billions of pounds).

We have to do something now to reverse the trend and restore healthier environment. The first step is to increase awareness among the people, the government and businesses. We have to make the environmental protection and restoration a national priority. We are seeking the cooperation of all segments of Egyptian society, the business, the government, the mothers and housewives, the students, the artists and all the professionals inside and outside Egypt.

THE VISION

Egyptians breathing clean air, drinking clean water, eating non-contaminated food. Living in an environment free of toxic chemicals like herbicides and pesticides. Egyptians having access to decent healthcare. Egyptians, their children and grandchildren, must live and grow up in a healthy & clean environment.

MISSION

Egyptians inside and outside will organize in an NGO to work in alliance with the Egyptian governmental agencies, Egyptian private or public organizations, businesses, educational & scientific institutions, and Egyptian media to:

1.Raise public awareness of all Egyptians on the environment so as to bring the environmental issue in the forefront and make it a national priority.
2.To stop and reverse the present trend of environmental deterioration
3.To develop re-mediation strategies for the environmental problems and monitor their implementation.
4.To help the government to develop national environmental goals, targets, and enforcement of the environmental laws through public vigilance.
5.To help the Business & Industry to produce environmentally friendly products & services with minimal adverse impact on the environment.

IMMEDIATE GOAL

To reach at least 10 million Egyptians, through media and educational programs, to increase their environmental awareness.

PROPOSED STRATEGIES

1.Increase environmental awareness of the population, industry & government through communication, and launching massive media and educational programs that reach at least 10 million Egyptians.
1.To work with the legislative & governmental agencies to develop rational & achievable standards and laws.
2.To work with all interested agencies and organizations to develop a national environmental management system that includes monitoring, surveillance, law enforcement and taking corrective measures.
3.To insist on proper environmental assessment and planning for all major projects, development and new industries.
4.To ban deleterious environmental practices and material (pesticide & herbicides, leaded gasoline, use of BCPs and CFCs). To substitute with more environmentally friendly substances and practices. To ban aerial spraying of pesticides.
5.To develop incentive, awards and assistance programs to help the industry and service providers to reduce pollution and become more environmentally friendly.
6.To establish effective environmental monitoring & surveillance, facilities and report the results to the public through the news media.
7.To develop recognizable symbols that can be used by all environmentally friendly products and services and processes. This will help the public to preferentially choose these products and services.
8.To encourage the development of local re-mediation and restoration programs and technologies.
9.To improve water treatment and waste handling & treatment
10.To develop strategies and laws to protect productive surfaces like agricultural land and water.
11.To improve air quality in the cities by increasing the number of trees and vegetation inside and around them.
12.To reduce public health risks by developing programs to assess the health risks and to implement measures and technologies to reduce hazardous and toxic chemicals in air, water &soil.
13.To make Environment a mandatory subject course during the first 9 years of school
14.To promote programs that would protect bio-diversity
15.To help in the transfer of Know how and experience in environmental protection from leading countries and industries.

This to invite all Egyptians who share the vision, and who are interested in a sustainable future for their children and grandchildren to serve with pride, without expectation of material gains. Their satisfaction and reward will come from the fact that they are helping to make the vision a reality.

All of us rich or poor, men, women or children, Muslims or Christians, intellectuals or illiterate, powerful or weak, Politicians, students, professionals, farmers, workers, house wives, breathe the same air, drink from the same source and eat food grown in the same soil. We are all in the same lifeboat and are biologically affected very much the same by the environmental conditions. Hence we all have a shared destiny as far as the environment is concerned.

All of us share the blame for the environmental conditions that exist today in Egypt and only with the solid resolve, team work, cooperation and combined serious effort of all of us (individuals, government, business, etc.), we can reverse the trend before we are all faced with an irrecoverable environmental disaster.

The only way, I see that things will change: is by making the people and government aware of the problem. Then developing  indigenous solution. This approach worked in Sweden (developed country) and Costa Rica (under-developed country).

For starters, If each of us writes 20 letters to his friends, family, media , Egyptian ministry of environment, Maglis El Shaab, and business. Each of us keep spreading the message. Add information and facts to it, share information with others. Ask questions tough questions.

If each of us ask his friends, family to do the same, to contact the media, to contact the famous artists so they can join and spread the message further. We can bring awareness and make the environment a national priority.

The approach is not to blame the government or industry or people, lets concentrate on solving the problems rather than assigning the blame.
Let’s work with everyone who wants to improve the environmental conditions, ministers, Member of Parliament, scientists, housewives, farmers, industrialists, students, artists…. Regardless of the past.
However, we should not accept delays, opportunists or people who want to control this grass root movement for their own agendas.

Well here is my challenge to the proud lovers of  EGYPT.

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