During the first half of the 1990''s and particularly since the Rio Earth Summit, environmental sustainability has become a policy-making theme worldwide. An unprecedented awareness of the magnitude of environmental problems has erupted and a new environmentalism is being adopted throughout the planet. As nations struggle to forge development paths that provide economic prosperity for their citizens and good stewardship of the environment, governments are rejecting the outmoded development vs. the environment prototype, in favor of the new environmentalism based on ecologically sustainable development.
Sustainable development essentially means meeting our present needs and aspirations without compromising the ability of future generations to meet theirs. It requires a modification of human attitudes and behaviors; it requires global vision.
While environmental problems are pervasive in most countries and continue to escalate worldwide, more than 100 countries have introduced environmental concerns into their national development process. In approximately one-half of these countries, substantial changes in sectoral and cross-sectoral policies are evident.
Throughout the Mediterranean region great strides are being made as citizens and governments develop strategies to ensure the sustainable development of communities and nations. Public awareness campaigns and environmental education programs are making an impact on the population, but there remains a need to provide a working model that will dispel any doubt that environmentally sound and ecologically sustainable development makes good economic sense.
Responding to the Need
In response to this need, the Mediterranean Center for Sustainable Development Programs (the Mediterranean Center) was founded in 1999. Its permanent headquarters is located on 120 feddans overlooking the Nile River in Beni Suef Governorate, a geographic area targeted by the Egyptian government for urban development and investment promotion. The Center is situated 22 km from Beni Suef on the eastern bank of the Nile River, on the main highway connecting Cairo with Minia Governorate.
The Mediterranean Center in Beni Suef will be a living environmental laboratory for biodiversity conservation, environmental management and appropriate technology applications; a recreation hub based on the principles of sustainable rural tourism and a self-reliant educational center that teaches, practices and promotes the concepts of human rights and democracy within the framework of sustainable development.
The Mediterranean Center will provide hands on opportunities for developmental field practitioners, educators, students, non-governmental and governmental institutions, universities and research centers to experience the benefits of good governance on the sustainable development process. The Mediterranean Center will be self-reliant. It will teach and practice the concepts of proper stewardship and demonstrate that sustainable technologies, methodologies and associated attitudes and behavioral patterns, can be socially, environmentally and economically rewarding.
- Provide technical and advisory services to government, NGO and private sector institutions
- Promote sustainable solutions to economic, social and environmental problems using a participatory approach and multidisciplinary techniques and influence decision-makers at all levels to choose sustainable development as the most viable option for good governance
- Provide hands-on practical sustainable development experience by creating a living laboratory for the practices of good governance and appropriate technology applications
- Establish a regional information center to promote the use of electronic communications, networking, information exchange and research activities
- Promote technology transfer, act as a broker, and provide technical assistance and services to regional private and public sector stakeholders implementing state-of-the-art sustainable development practices
- Build local, national and regional capacity in sustainable development planning, leadership practices, democracy and human rights principles through leadership programs for youth and women, internship opportunities, and training seminars and workshops in strategic planning, small business development, organizational management and good governance
The Mediterranean Center was incorporated under the Egyptian Investment Law #8/1997. By carefully examining this law''s provisions for incorporation, the company has capitalized on the code''s most favorable aspects, which include incentives, tax breaks, and duty exemptions through 2014. Additionally, the company''s articles of incorporation provide a cost effective and hassle-free mechanism for foreign investment. Foreign shares in the Mediterranean Center are permitted to a ceiling of 49%. The American company the Center for Sustainable Development International, Inc., currently owns 8% of the company''s shares.
Furthermore, the center''s areas of intervention were defined in the broadest terms possible in order to facilitate our response to the ever-changing demands and aspirations of the Euro-Mediterranean community. By building a multi-faceted approach into the company''s legal framework, the Mediterranean Center can continue to take an active and proactive approach towards sustainable development and the environment without administrative or legal limitations.