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Middle East

A new “Green” revolution, time to seize the day

Revolution is in the air in Egypt these days and many organizations see this time as an opportunity to gain influence in the decision making process. New parties are registering and trade unions and small NGOs are gathering strength.

There is a feeling of “everything but Mubarak” is the right way to move and that gives climate NGOs a whole new platform to work on.

Now is the time for relatively small groups of climate activist to unite and seize the day to change the future climate policies in Egypt. The conditions are just right.

With the announcement of the new Prime Minister, Essam Sharaf, Egypt has gotten a man with a very technical background and not a military history. As a civil engineer and a former Minister of Transportation there is a chance that he might listen more to climate agencies, also because Egypt is facing three major climate challenges they have to deal with in the near future.

The first major challenges are the rising sea levels that will have severe consequences for Egypt.

The second challenge the government is facing is as much a climate challenge as a very political challenge. Food scarcity was one of many triggers why people started to protest in the Middle East.

The last major challenge is the education system. The knowledge and awareness about climate change is very limited and the education system is partly to blame for this.

The small loosely organized environmental groups can use their background and experience on two levels. The first level is to plant an “environmental awareness” seed in the youth who seems to be open for a revolutionary change in the country. This could be done through class room teaching, public campaigns or through the policies of the many new parties. A good place to learn from is WESC.

This leads me on to the second level; which is for the environmental NGOs to influence the policies of the future parties in the government. Like it has been in other parts of the world for decades, green Think Tanks can write complete climate policies based on serious research and then hand them straight over to the parties that has to build up from scratch.

The different environmental related organizations might be few and small in Egypt but they have certain advantages. First of all, they have been able to organize relatively freely in comparison with other NGOs in the country. The organizations are also mostly based on volunteerism and people that already have a strong passion for the subject which means that they have been able to do certain projects (like the 350) with limited funds. Another great example of where to start would be: http://www.ecooptionsegypt.com/

Lastly, the European Union and some countries, particularly the Scandinavian countries, have a lot of well-funded projects that they would like to share to the region.

The project of uniting environmental and climate organizations and to spread awareness is a major project but a necessary project. It is not an impossible task, especially not in times like this.

If the environmental organizations manage to size the day, Egypt can be not only the first Arab country in the region with a democratic election but also the first Arab country with a serious climate policy.


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