Last week the American University in Cairo hosted a conference to launch the WinWin Initiative as part of the Hanns Seidel Foundation’s efforts to promote activities which observe both human and environmental interests in the sustainable development process.
The conference, titled “Exploring Win-Win Strategies for Sustainable Local Development: A MENA Initiative on Poverty-Environment Mainstreaming,” was attended by government officials, academics, members of civil society, and non-governmental organizations.
The aim of the conference was to explore ways to reduce poverty and at the same time protect the environment, based on tested “win-win” strategies for sustainable local development in the Middle East and North Africa.
To achieve this an online forum has been developed that seeks to create an interactive network of innovative local practitioners and researchers seeking practical ways to improve people’s lives and safeguard the environment in the region. This new online forum also presents those interested with the medium and the opportunity to exchange knowledge on the issues.
The opening session of the conference included speeches by senior officials from the Hanns Seidel Foundation and the German government, alongside government officials from Egypt’s Ministries of Information and the Environment.
Ambassador Ismail Khairat, speaking on behalf of Minister of Information Anas el-Fikki, highlighted the importance of the conference: “Environmental causes have served to unite the world in order to address these issues.”
While welcoming this initiative, Atwa Hussein, deputy chair of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, who was speaking on behalf of Minister of State for Environmental Affairs Magid George, highlighted the need for further partnerships between government agencies and international organizations in order to address environmental issues together.
Michael Bock, the German ambassador to Egypt, warned attendees of the decisive nature of environmental issues, saying that the future of mankind is dependent on whether or not these are addressed. “We urgently need to stop the vicious cycle we are living in and have positive development instead,” Bock said.
Such urgency was further highlighted by Christian Ruck, a German MP. “The environmental problems we are encountering today are of new proportions. Action is needed to save us from ourselves,” Ruck said.
Ruck proposed going back to a basic way of life while mainstreaming the environmental agenda through a bottom-up approach, creating more room for individual action leading to greater and more positive contributions without waiting for government intervention.
Originally published by Egyptindependent.com here.