Egypt celebrated its first National Environment Day on 27 January. Under the theme Live Green: The Way to Sustainability, events were held to increase public awareness of the importance of preserving the environment and protecting natural resources.
The date was chosen to mark the first environment law issued in Egypt, on 27 January 1994, and after the Ministry of Environment designated January the month of afforestation, explained Emad Adly, head of the Arab Office for Youth and Environment.
Afforestation, which aims to combat climate change through tree planting, “is the fastest and cheapest way to confront air pollution and climate change impacts,” said Environment Minister Yasmine Fouad ahead of the celebration. At the event on 27 January Fouad said designating a day for the environment would encourage people to partake in activities that preserve the environment, change people’s attitudes towards natural resources and boost sustainable use policies.
Egypt issued its first law on the environment 26 years ago. Law 4/1994 comprises 104 articles in four chapters. Building on the legacy created by the first piece of environmental legislation the government is encouraging people to adopt environmentally friendly behaviour and establish effective civil dialogue around Egypt’s Vision 2030 to achieve sustainable development.
Activities held during the month and organised in cooperation with the Arab Council for Youth and the Environment included seminars, workshops, competitions, and clean-up and tree planting campaigns, and within the framework of a cooperation protocol between the ministries of agriculture and the environment, landscaping campaigns.
The ministries of the environment and education have been cooperating to integrate environmental concepts into school curricula to raise a generation that prioritises the health of the planet and its resources, said Fouad. During the celebrations recycling models created by students were showcased.
The Live Green initiative aims at raising people’s awareness of the importance of preserving the natural resources and will tackle a different environmental subject each month with nationwide events.
Fouad said celebrations would include competitions for recycling waste, poster design, landscape photography and awards for the most environmentally friendly neighbourhood and street.
Other activities include clean-up activities at nature reserves and lectures at protectorates.
A tree planting campaign was in full swing in Old Cairo, starting at the Hanging Church and ending at Amr Ibn Al-Aas Mosque. A march was organised by scouts on the National Environment Day to let pedestrians know about the celebration and the importance of preserving the environment and its natural resources to ensure they are passed intact to future generations.
Several bishoprics and the scouts of the Hanging Church participated in the campaign.
The governors of Cairo and Giza, ministers and MPs were among the many officials who helped mark the first National Environment Day.
“Environment in Egypt is no longer a concept to combat pollution. It has become a development tool that is advancing in tandem with scientific research,” said MP Mohamed Atta.
*A version of this article appears in print in the 30 January, 2020 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.