Egypt Archives - Earth Charter

Guest post from an Egyptian youth and e-GLO 3 participant

EC helped me shape my country!

By Janna El Hadad, Egyptian Youth and e-GLO 3 participant

Guest post from an Egyptian youth and e-GLO 3 participant

I first got acquainted with the Earth Charter in 2010 when I applied for e-GLO3 (Earth Charter Global Learning Opportunity). I had to do my research, going through every bit on the website, thoroughly reading the declaration and understanding it. By doing so, I came across many success stories from Business to Government and other sectors. I was so inspired that I felt that I had to be involved in the Earth Charter even if I wasn’t accepted into e-GLO 3.  Thankfully I was accepted and I joined the e-GLO community for the first session in September 2010.

e-GLO 3 was the first time I enrolled in an online course. It was a completely new and eye-opening experience for me. There were around 32 participants from all over the globe at each session, so, diversity and intercultural dialogue were an integral part of the course at all times.  During our sessions, we learned a lot about sustainability, leadership, social entrepreneurship, and many other topics.

Right after I finished the course, we Egyptians overthrew the government and President Mubarak and had our Revolution of January 25th come to life for history to record. Since then, we’ve toppled another regime, overthrown another president, invalidated two constitutions and the country has never been BETTER!

Looking back at my experience in e-GLO 3 and with the Earth Charter now after all that has happened in my country, I am proud. Proud that I applied for such a course and joined such a movement!

I was intending to write how the Earth Charter changed my perspective regarding the Presidential elections and constitutional referendums, but actually, it was the other way around.  Even though I believe I understood the declaration quite well, what we went through in Egypt helped me to see the Earth Charter and e-GLO 3 in a completely different way.

I came out of eGLO 3 with a very clear image of how I wanted my country to be. During some of the sessions, we were asked to come up with ideas and projects to help our communities and develop solutions for problems we were encountering. I suggested that Egypt establish an official Youth Parliament parallel to the regular Parliament under Hosni Mubarak’s rule and the old regime, to overcome the oppression and limited involvement of Youth in decision-making. I remember the speaker we had welcomed the idea but argued against its practicality and that our Government would not allow it. That was true then but now things have changed. After the revolution, this idea became an actual one proposed on National TV and talk-shows everywhere!

Similarly, when it was time for Presidential Elections, I recalled our sessions about Leadership and Youth Sustainability which helped me choose the President who best fit the circumstances in my country.

When we started living through electricity blackouts in Egypt, I really related to an e-GLO participant from Uganda. During one of the sessions, he told us that they didn’t have electricity at the moment and that he was online using a generator of his own. I experienced almost the same exact thing just a few months after the session. This made me realize that this world is utterly small and coexistent. What one country is facing now may sooner or later happen to another. Global partnership is not only essential but it is inevitable. This is something I learned from e-GLO and was proven to me in time!

Taking all that into consideration, I was overwhelmed at how genuine and actual our discussions in e-GLO were. We weren’t just debating random ideas, we were developing real action plans that could very well be implemented to change a whole nation! That’s what e-GLO was all about and I definitely consider it one of the most authentic and valuable courses I’ve ever been in.

I mentioned earlier how it was the other way around when our Constitutional Referendums made me perceive the Earth Charter in a different manner. You see, reading the declaration carefully and understanding it made me acknowledge what values and principles you’d want to rule a country by in order to build a just, sustainable nation.

I recognized the four pillars that I want in a constitution; Respect and Care for the Community life, Ecological Integrity, Social and Economic Justice, and Democracy, non-violence, and peace. Thus, the Declaration gave me the perspective that allowed me to vote to reinforce or invalidate a constitution. Which I proudly did twice! I realize how practical the Earth Charter is, it’s not just an inspiring document. It is something we should all adopt and reinforce in our nations!

Janna El HadadFinally, I believe the Earth Charter enabled me to have a clear vision for my country. I now know for a fact that Earth Charter is not only a declaration. It’s a pathway, a route for this world’s collaboration, development, and sustainability, all proven by real life-time experience. I owe a debt of gratitude to everyone working with the Earth Charter; you are making the world brighter every day. THANK YOU!

by Janna El Hadad

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Please Stereotype Me

I am not a writer and I am certainly not a political analyst. I am just a concerned civil activist interested in the field of the intercultural dialogue, conflict resolution and breaking stereotypes. For the last 4 years, I have had the opportunity to work with hundreds of people from different nations, religions, languages, thoughts and beliefs, but with one common link, and that is acknowledging the fact that we are all part of one human family.  

If you think the last line is just part of my routine to get you to pay attention then please stop reading this article, but if you agree with it, please read on!

As an icebreaker in all trainings and meetings I attend, I usually introduce myself by saying: “I am Karim Gaber– a young Egyptian Muslim man, and don’t worry I don’t have a bomb on me, they took it away at the airport!”

Over the last decade, media has been promoting the three following words heavily: stereotypes, prejudice and discrimination, (three words that we, as doctors in psychology consider to be very much related). First, you have to have stereotyping thoughts which resemble our expectation and beliefs about someone, which then leads to prejudice, which is the emotional response, and finally to discrimination which is the action.

This brings me to reflect on the recent real life situation that took place by an unknown American who produced a low budget movie that promotes hatred speech against Muslims and The Prophet Mohamed (Peace be upon him), which then made its way to the air waves on 9/11/2012. Once it reached the Middle East and the Arab world, violent acts against U.S embassies around the world broke out. This makes me sad, because it seems that every time progress starts to be made, something as insignificant as this video comes out and automatically it becomes a violent, Arab-Muslim act of violence, which only perpetuate islamophobia throughout the United States and other parts of the world.

I believe we should fight ideas with ideas, not with violence and so I am against all the violent acts against U.S embassies in Middle East because if the prophet Mohamed (PBUH) himself was alive, He too would be against it.

That brings me to a serious thought–how would prophet Mohamed (PBUH) react if he were alive? And what does Islam tells us to do against hate speech!

The Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) said: “He will not enter Paradise whose neighbor is not secure from his wrongful conduct.”- (Sahih Muslim, Hadith 15.) He also said “The best (Jihad) is (to speak) word of justice to an oppressive ruler.”—(Sunan of Abu-Dawood, Hadith 2040)
He is the one who said: Do not kill women or children or an aged, infirm person. Do not cut down fruit-bearing trees. Do not destroy an inhabited place.”(Al-Muwatta, Volume 21, Hadith 9 and 10). That is what the prophet says we should embrace and so, I am not angry with the movie, because probably prophet Mohamed (PBUH) wouldn’t be angry either. He would probably go and work more to spread peace, instead of attack embassies. It makes me sad that some Muslims I know who love the prophet don’t follow his rules and attack embassies instead.

It seems that if you call a man black, you are considered a racist, but if you promote hate speech against prophet Mohamed (PBUH) and Islam or any religion it’s called freedom of speech. I am not against freedom of speech, and to prove that I will ask you proudly to please stereotype me! Yes, please stereotype me; at least by doing that you spare some of your time thinking about me which means that you acknowledge my existence!

Recently, SHIFT Network (Euro-Arab Youth Initiative), which I am the president of, Bibliotheca Alexandrina and Earth Charter International have started to take more active steps together to build a platform for a productive sustainable intercultural dialogue based on integrity and respect to counteract the effect corrupt media has had in Arab countries. In May, 2012 in Alexandria, Egypt, The Euro-Arab Youth Leadership, Sustainability and Ethics Forum – Moving beyond Just Tolerance took place at the Bibliotheca Alexandrina. The forum was divided into two stages–the first stage included four interactive and engaging online sessions for two hours a week, with the active participation of 15 European and 15 Arab youth, representing over 17 different countries regionally. To read more about the forum and its outcomes please click here.
So congratulations, you’ve taken a huge step! Please Stereotype me with all the hate speech you want, but before you transform those thoughts into emotions that judge me, take a moment and come talk to me. I won’t expect you to like me at first, but at least we can say we had a dialogue.

Written by Karim Gaber
(Euro-Arab Youth Initiative)
 
 

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Second Stage of Euro-Arab Youth Sustainability Leadership Forum

Alexandria, Egypt. From 2-7 May, Earth Charter International in partnership with SHIFT Network (Euro-Arab Youth Initiative) participated in the Euro-Arab Youth Forum in Alexandria.  The forum was organized in partnership with an Egyptian youth organization, Shift Network (Euro-Arab Youth Initiative), the Earth Charter International, and UPEACE. Funding for the forum was provided by the Swedish Institute of Alexandria.

European and Arab young people face common challenges about sustainable development, but have very different ways of understanding and viewing it, especially in regards to environmental, economic and social sectors, as well as the achievement of human rights, including access to education, decent employment, migration and gender equality. In this context, the aim for this cooperation is to promote peace and social justice, through stronger cooperation at a bi-regional level by fostering intercultural dialogue and enhancing the exchange of experiences amongst European and Arab youth. To achieve this, sustainable development needs to be placed at the heart of this endeavor and the Earth Charter serves as an ethical framework towards building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

The forum was divided into two stages–the first stage included four interactive and engaging online sessions for two hours a week, with the active participation of 15 European and 15 Arab youth, representing over 17 different countries regionally. There were also some excellent guest speakers who joined the programme in our online sessions to share their experiences about intercultural dialogue and how we can apply them in our contexts, including Dr. Amr Abdalla, the University for Peace’s Vice Rector. At the end of the first stage, participants were divided into four mixed groups (Europeans and Arabs) and were asked to develop an Intercultural Youth sustainability project using the Earth Charter as their ethical framework.

During the second stage, the same 30 Arab and European youth, along with 50 other youth representatives from relevant organizations were invited to Alexandria to present their projects with the aim to share and network with each other, as well as exchange ideas and potential funding to get some of the intercultural projects started. In addition to the 80 participants, hundreds of Egyptian university youths from Alexandria participated in the opening and closing ceremonies, as well as some of the workshops throughout the week.

You can find more information and pictures of the forum here .

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Euro Arab Sustainability Leadership Youth Forum

Presented by: Shift Network (Euro-Arab Youth Initiative) & Earth Charter International

Why a Euro-Arab youth forum?

European and Arab young people face common challenges about sustainable development, but have very different ways of understanding and viewing it, especially in regards to environmental, economic and social sectors, as well as the achievement of human rights, including access to education, decent employment, migration and gender equality. In this context the aim for this cooperation is to promote peace and social justice, through stronger cooperation at a bi-regional level by fostering intercultural dialogue and enhancing the exchange of experiences amongst European and Arab youth. To achieve this, we will be using the Earth Charter that will serve as an ethical framework towards building a more just, sustainable and peaceful world.

Purpose

The problems of today’s world are more complex than ever, they are highly interconnected and interdependent. We face climate change, vast exploitation of natural resources, population growth, growing gap between rich and poor, and social inequity, among many other challenges. To be able to respond to these challenges future leaders need a new and innovative interdisciplinary approach. At a time when major changes in how we think and live are urgently needed, we challenge them to examine our values and to choose a better way.  This approach calls upon us to search for common ground in the midst of our diversity and to embrace a new ethical vision shared by growing numbers of people in many nations and cultures throughout the world. What we need are sustainability leaders.

Overall Objective

Young people in the Euro-Arab region promote and contribute to the transition to sustainable ways of living and to a global society founded on a shared ethical framework that includes respect and care for the community of life, ecological integrity, universal human rights, respect for diversity, economic justice, democracy, and a culture of peace.

Stage One:

Stage One will take place online through Earth Charter International’s online platform, which will provide an interactive, creative and innovative space for the participants to work together.

This stage will consist of 4 sessions once a week for two hours each and the projected start date is February 28th, 2012.

Session One:  Youth sustainability leadership

This session introduces the Earth Charter using Donella Meadows’s approach on visioning for a sustainable future.

Session Two: Intercultural Dialogue | Intercultural Communicative Competence

Through the process of dialogue we will build the basis for mutual understanding and demonstrate how Intercultural Dialogue can contribute towards the construction of a more peaceful world.

Session Three:  Sustainable ways of living

All of us leave traces wherever we go; our ecological footprints depend on our lifestyles. Through this course, participants can be guided to choose a better way. Transition is possible!

Session Four: Planning for Sustainable Action Projects

A key lesson from successful stories is that the pursuit of sustainable development requires innovation in the ‘how’ rather than the ‘what’. Now the course participants will present their own intercultural ideas!

Stage Two*:

Stage two will take place from May 1st-6th, 2012 in Alexandria, Egypt, where the participants will meet each other and be able to present their projects and continue the intercultural dialogue they started virtually.

We chose Alexandria because it is home to the famous Alexandria Bibliotheca and therefore an ideal place for young people to come together to have an intercultural dialogue.

There will also be a fair for NGO and youth initiatives from the Euro-Arab region who are interested in intercultural dialogue and are able to represent their work and future projects by providing a live platform for Networking.

*Full cost of Accommodation during 2nd stage in Alexandria, Egypt will be covered, 70% of travel fees will be refunded.

Criteria for individual applications:

  • Age range: 18-25 years old
  • Good proficiency in English.
  • People with Interest to know other cultures.
  • Be Interested to learn about other cultures.

Individual Application link:

https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dFR3YjFvUEc4Y1NCaHpBc056blIwWGc6MQ
Deadline : 18/2/2012

Criteria for organizational applications:

  • Organizations interested in the field of intercultural dialogue that are located within the Euro-Arab region)

Each organization will be able to recommend one representative for the first stage, and a maximum of 3 representatives for the 2nd stage in Alexandria!

Organizations Application link:
https://docs.google.com/spreadsheet/viewform?formkey=dDhMbTlVejJmeldUU1E2WEdLWEJtZ3c6MQ
Deadline : 18/2/2012

For any inquires please contact :

Euro-Arab Team:
[email protected]

Karim Gaber
President of Shift-Network
Euro-Arab youth initiative
[email protected]

Nora Mahmoud
International youth coordinator
Earth charter organization
[email protected]

Main Partners:

         

Partner Organizations:

           

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Global Eco-village Network Conference

The Global Eco-village Network organized a conference in Cairo, Egypt from November 18-21 in Sekem, a village located 60 km from Cairo. The purpose of the conference was to gather with youth from all the regions of Africa and share their projects on environment protection, conservation and others. The Sekem eco-village served as a great example of  a village that benefits and operates using sustainable ways of living.

Program of the conference:

Day 1:

The first day started with the presentation of the Global Ecovillage Network (GEN) by Kosha, the president of the organization.

The Ecovillage has 4 long-term dimensions for sustainability: culture, ecology, social, and economic.

What are they doing?

The organization aims to raise awareness, promote education, coordinate and monitor work with all the local eco-villages in the world, build networks and alliances across sectors.

GEN is an initiative that builds networks and connects other eco-villages across continents.

Visit to the Farm:

A good example of an eco-village is the Sekem village. It uses organic food and products. Sekem farm started with very with few hectares using compost instead of water. Then, it started to grow. Now it has a laboratory and a university. The community that lives there works at the farm and the kids and youth go to school and to the university there. There is a place for art and music. The community meets in a big circle every Thursday. The objective of the meeting is for each one to tell what s/he has done during the week so that everyone knows what’s going on in the farm.

Activities on the farm:
– Quality Control
– Fumigating herbs and spices
– Storing products separately
– Anis and mint processing
– Crushing and grinding cinnamon and raw materials

Day 2:   Presentation of projects by African participants

Presentation 1: Eco-village Strategies in D.R. Congo by Lula

The village uses energy-friendly solar panels and solar cookers, and operates using natural and recycled materials to build houses and harvest water.
The community in this village has partnered with Lush, a cosmetic and manufacturing company that makes handmade cosmetics. Lush funds and supports trainings for the community as well.

Despite the political situation in D.R. Congo, the village works hard towards maintaining a sustainable community.

Presentation 2: Morocco, the loop, sustainable development challenges by Fouad

Fouad talked about the gap between the urban and rural areas in Morocco. He highlighted the issues that Morocco faces, such as flood threats and water waste. There is now a growing sustainable community in a rural area in Morocco called Penyon Bay Ecovillage.

Day 3:
Presentation 2: by Kosha, President of the GEN Program

Kosha explained how to create eco-villages and discussed the GEN willingness to train and mentor anyone who wants to create an eco-village in his/her community.
She gave examples of existing eco-villages all over the world, even in indigenous areas, such as the one in India.

Presentation 3: Lovans (Country Activator of the Earth Charter in Ghana)

Lovans talked about tropical agriculture in villages in Ghana. He is currently working on an eco-village that helps farmers with ecological projects.

The area works on a Moringa tree from which it makes oil, cream, soap and ointment. The program also supports women in the community and there are initiatives in schools for youth trainings.

The village works also on mushroom farming, organic oyster, and composting (organic pest control, composting, and organic manure in vegetables).

The Earth Charter (EC) and the Global Eco-village Network (GEN):

The Global Eco-village Network (GEN) is a global organization that has as a vision for sustainable communities. It tries to link different communities and create networks for eco-villages across the world. Its aim is to connect NGOs, youth, ecological corporations, scientists, experts, and civil society through information exchange, advocacy to individuals and communities in order to cultivate a sustainable social, spiritual, economical, and ecological living.

The Earth Charter is a declaration of fundamental ethical principles for building a just, sustainable and peaceful global society in the 21st century. It seeks to inspire in all people a new sense of global interdependence and shared responsibility for the well-being of the whole human family, the greater community of life, and future generations. It is a vision of hope and a call to action. To read the Earth Charter, please click here.

The Earth Charter Initiative is a worldwide network that promotes the principles of the Earth Charter. Within this initiative, there is a youth network that involves active young people from over 100 countries, with more than 90 Earth Charter Youth Groups (ECYGs) and numerous partners around the world by offering free online courses on youth leadership, sustainable development and ethics, and more.

The Earth Charter International Secretariat guides and liaises with efforts to bring the Earth Charter to the fields of education, youth, business and religion, manages communications with the larger Earth Charter network, and promotes the use of the Earth Charter as an international soft law document.

Both the GEN and the ECI share similar values towards achieving sustainable development, specifically with respect to the importance that is given to ecological integrity. As stated in the Earth Charter Principle 5: “Protect and restore the integrity of Earth’s ecological systems, with special concern for biological diversity and the natural processes that sustain life.”

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Launch of Middle East and North Africa Earth Charter Network

On 23 and 24 November 2010, a special celebration of the 10th Earth Charter anniversary took place in Jordan, under the patronage of HRH Princess Basma Bint Talal and the Jordanian Hashemite Fund for Human Development  (JOHUD).  The objectives were to raise awareness about the EC in Jordan and in the region, share experiences and forge collaboration between regional organizations.  As a result, a regional Earth Charter network for Middle East and North Africa was created, and strategic actions and way forward were discussed and agreed.

The first day of the event, around 200 people gathered at Movenpick Hotel in the Dead Sea, Jordan, where HRH Princess Basma offered her views on the importance of the Earth Charter for the region, she said:  “the Earth Charter is in line with our region’s culture and lifestyle. Our commitment to the EC is evident, but we need to do more actions, we need to do what is simply right”.   She offered an overview of the contributions of Jordan society to the drafting process of the Charter,  and actions that have taken place during this last 10 years.  She highlighted the translation of the EC Teacher’s Guidebook into Arabic and how this resource was distributed to schools throughout the country.   At the end of her speech, she expressed hope that this meeting leads to more use and promotion of the sustainability vision that is articulated in the Earth Charter.

In this occasion, IUCN regional office launched a toolkit in Arabic of the water initiative called WANI. Mr. Mark Smith from IUCN Headquarters presented this material and made the official launch. In addition, he reflected on the complementary missions of IUCN and Earth Charter Initiative.

In the first panel discussion, Prof. Peter Blaze Corcoran offered, on behalf of the Earth Charter International, a thorough presentation of what have been the most important highlights and outcomes of the Earth Charter in the last ten years, in areas such as education, private sector, youth and global governance.   In addition, Mr. Odeh Al-Jayyousi, IUCN Regional Director highlighted the importance of the EC as an educational tool for sustainable development and the importance of a continued collaboration.  Dr. Sawsan Majali, Director of ZENID offered an overview of actions to put in practice the Earth Charter in Jordan.   Finally, Mr. Mustafa Naseredin, from TAG group, offered his views on the importance of the Earth Charter as a framework to motivate new ways of doing business.  He reflected on the complementarities between EC, Global Compact and GRI.

A second panel was organized to share experiences of the Earth Charter in action, each panelist discussed one of the four pillars of the Earth Charter.  Mr. Ibrahim Al-Zubi from Emirates Diving Association discussed about Respect and Care for the Community of Life;  Mr. Yehya Khaled from Royal Society of Conservation of Nature shared thoughts on the notion of Ecological Integrity; Mr. Emad Adly from RAED Network reflected on his work on Social and Economic Justice and Mr. Melhem Mansour from Greek Orthodox Patriarchate of Syria about Democracy, Non Violence and Peace.

Then, participants divided into five groups to discuss the role of the Earth Charter in education, private sector, youth, policy making, planning and in evaluation and assessment for sustainability.

The second day of the meeting, the working groups identified priority actions for each area discussed, they started to develop a regional plan for putting the actions identified into practice, and discussed on a collaboration effort to start a regional Earth Charter network.

Participants representing organizations of 11 countries (Governmental, International and Non Governmental Organizations) committed to get involved in this network.  The countries represented were:  Bahrain, Egypt, Iran, Lebanon, Jordan, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.

There was an agreement to have JOHUD as the coordinating entity for this network, who will be in close communication with the members and ECI Secretariat.    The participant’s commitment is expressed in a final declaration signed by all, which was presented to HRH Princess Basma on the last day.

Find here the Dead Sea Declaration (in Arabic and English).

Also, a video that presents JOHUD’s work in Jordan, and how it reflects the principles of the EC.

Finally, a report of the event done by JOHUD staff (only in Arabic), some photos and an article from the Jordan Times.

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