Surprisingly Egypt topped the world Environmental Performance Index for the Middle East and North Africa region according to the world Environmental Performance Index prepared by Yale University in collaboration with Columbia University. The 2012 world EPI ranked 132 countries on 22 performance indicators including air pollution, water resources, forestry, fisheries, climate change and biodiversity. Not just that but Egypt also made it to the top five in the “trends list” (i.e., countries with the most significant gains) due to substantial gains made in the environmental health objective. This includes dealing with indoor air pollution, improving access to drinking water and sanitation. I know unbelievable.
Egypt was ranked the 60th most environmental country with an EPI Score of 55.18, followed closely by Israel (54.64) and the United Arab Emirates (50.91). Switzerland, which topped the chart, scored 76.69.
Green Prophet, a sustainable voice for green news on the Middle East region, met with Gamal Hamdan, head of the Muslim Brotherhood’s Think Tank on Environmental Policy to better understand their position on the environmental agenda. As expected, Hamdan links the Brotherhood’s support to the green movement to a hadith by prophet Mohamed but underscores that given Egypt’s current problems, environment is not a priority (but sharia is?). It’s good to know they are not good in multitasking. Excerpt from the interview below:
“Egypt in fact has good environmental legislation, but the Minister of Environment doesn’t hold executive powers. If somebody breaks the law he can’t do anything. In the past you could just sideline the environmental rules by paying the inspector, somebody in the ministry or by being close enough to Mubarak’s circle of power. Below Cairo, there are steel, cement and fertilizer manufacturers pumping poisonous chemical waste into the Nile, without anyone knowing it. They only recently started cracking down on this. And most of this is already embedded in the Delta Region, where 70% of Egypt’s food agriculture needs are being developed. The value chain is broken and it won’t be easy to fix it.”
Image from NASA: Toshka, Egypt. Left: September 13, 1984 to September 29, 1987. Center: August 23 to September 2000. Right: March 21 to 28, 2010. Lake Nasser water levels fell after 1998 and flow to Toshka ceased in 2001. At the current rate of decline, the new lakes will be lost to evaporation within the next few years.