By: Ibrahim Eldeeb and Norhan Mahmoud
CAIRO, Dec. 13 (SEE)- Al-Shorouk Academy in collaboration with the IEREK organized the first International Conference on Sustainability, “Environmental Efficiency for Human Well-being,” in the presence of a number of Egyptian, Arab and international personalities including Dr. Ahmed Sayed Abdel Rahim, General Secretary of the Union of Arab Universities, Mourad Amer, Chief Executive Officer of IEREK and Abud Jaber Saeed, Minister of State of Sudan for Environmental Affairs.
This conference aims to bring environmentalists, scientists, urban planners, engineers, economists and other stakeholders together to discuss critical topics and share extensive knowledge about water and sanitation services, new and renewable energies, climate change and its effects, safe and sustainable cities and human settlements.
On his part, Mourad Amer, CEO and Founder of IEREK, said that the institution was established to provide opportunities to disseminate knowledge in various fields in an attempt to stimulate development and keep pace with global technological development. “At IEREK we rely on organizing conferences as a means of connecting students and university professors from around the world to share scientific knowledge and brainstorm.”
Former Deputy General-Secretary of the United Nations Shu Zukang stressed that peace is the only way to sustainable development and that proposals are no longer new as plans began in the 1970s in the United Nations, pointing out that its absence means the fall of important pillars and there must be social justice.
“The international community has agreed on the importance of sustainable development with increasing climate change and desertification, and the local government in China is doing all it can for sustainable development,” added Zukang. “Unless any agenda is put into action, is not worth even the value of the paper its wrote on.”
Prof. Rob Roggema who leads the Urban Research Network at UTS noted that Cities need to generate its own energy, opt for clean water and create space for nature. “The urban design indicates whether we are successful in integrating these elements, people understand that sustainable city is closer when they see actual designs. We should come up with innovative possibilities to survive on this planet.”
Rogemma stressed that developers should not rely on theoretical solutions to reach sustainable cities through using their imagination, yet People do not understand this sadly, elaborating: “We need to use our imagination because without it we will live in the past and will not take any step towards the future.”
In the same context, Bassem Fahmy, Representative of the Regional Office for Arab Countries of UN-HABITAT, said that 55% of the world’s population lives in cities and this is expected to level up to 65% by 2050, pointing out that UN-HABITAT supports sustainable development. “The population of Arab countries has quadrupled in the last 30 years and the Arab population is expected to reach half a billion people over the next 30 years.”
Dr. Abdullah Al-Suhail, Deputy Director General of the Arab Institute for Urban Development, said that the Arab Towns Organization is working to achieve the goals of sustainable development launched by the United Nations, and that this conference will lead us to clear visions that help officials and decision makers.
Regarding environmental crisis, Dr. Nadia Makram Ebeid, Executive Director of the Centre for Environment & Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE), noted that such issues will contribute to the elimination of development obstacles, because the environment around us is one of the pillars of the delicate balance of sustainable development. “We are now living in an era of digital transformation and the main challenge remains the relationship of man to machine and that our main challenge is time as President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi previously noted.”
Moreover, Aboud Jaber Saeed, Sudanese Minister of State for Environmental Affairs, said that neglecting the environment is a human abandonment and that the world must strengthen its efforts in the field of sustainable development. He called upon institutions to initiate awareness and intellectual campaigns globally and regionally in the environment.
Dr. Amr Ezzat Salama, Secretary General of the Union of Arab Universities, said that the conference is a positive indication of the well-being of people and that sustainable development is a scientific project worthy of attention in a better future for Egypt and the Arab world.
“The strategy of Egypt 2030 and some Arab countries has laid out its plan to achieve the goals of sustainable development and put it in partnership between government agencies and various representatives of the state sectors,” noted Salama.
The Union of Arab Universities is working to achieve quality standards through implementing a number of projects related to the classification of Arab universities, the quality assurance program in higher education and the extension of academic and research cooperation between Arab universities.