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Egypt-Environmental Policy Making in Egypt

Article excerpt

Environmental Policy Making in Egypt,

by Salwa Sharawi Gomaa. Miami: University Press of Florida, 1997. xi + 62 pages. Appends. to p. 81. Notes to p. 87. Bibl. to p. 93. Index to p. 100. $39.95.

This book is about the Egyptian government's efforts to deal with environmental problems, including the establishment, in 1982, of an Egyptian National Action Plan and an Environmental Protection Law. The study is divided into four chapters together with a brief introduction and conclusion. There are numerous figures, tables and appendices in a rather short assessment of environmental policies in Egypt.

The author's analysis of the interaction between the government, environmental non-governmental organizations, Egypt's Green Party (established in 1987), and foreign donors sheds light on the growing concern about the degradation of the environment among Egyptian policy makers, who have the legislative means to enact a successful environmental policy but lack sufficient resources to implement it. Gomaa argues that "unlike the industrial states in Europe and the United States, where environmental concern started through 'grassroots' movements, ... in Egypt it was the state that first demonstrated interest in environmental issues" (p. 5). Furthermore, in Egypt, the author argues, "those who are the most responsible for environmental pollution and the most affected by it are those who are least aware of it" (p. 29). The government must shift its resources toward pollution in order to accommodate environmental needs. It is unusual for a Third World society to be concerned about environmental problems while grappling with acute issues of poverty and basic needs, and, as such, Egypt represents a model for other Third World countries.

The Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency (EEAA) is an organization that other countries could certainly emulate. It is a public agency the responsibilities of which are "to support sustainable development programs taking environmental considerations in perspective and [to provide] a life fit for its citizens" (p. 35). What is unique about the Egyptian model is that it is aided by external bodies such as: the Technical Cooperation Office for the Environment (TCOE), a nationally executed United Nations Development Program Project affiliated to the EEAA. This office assists the EEAA in dealing with foreign donors and attempts to cut red tape and reduce bureaucratic delays. The role played by donor countries and agencies, the author argues, "can play a positive role in some of the [environmental] policy making process, from policy initiation and agenda setting to policy formulation and decision making" (p. …