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Sustainable Development

The concept of sustainable development has been identified in the report of the International Commission on Environment and Development entitled “Our Common Future” in 1987 as development that meets the needs of the present without prejudice the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

The Basic Elements of Sustainability

It includes three dimensions taking into consideration each dimension and the principle of justice among generations:

  • Social Dimension: unemployment, local and regional development, health care and wealth, social cohesion, services distribution... etc.
  • Economic Dimension: economic development, competitiveness, economic growth, innovation and industrial development ... etc.
  • The Environmental Dimension: to maintain the beauty of nature, water, air and soil quality, climate change, biodiversity ... etc.

Procedural Elements of Sustainability

  • Decision Making: the three-dimensions should be analyzed and included in the decision making process.
  • Balance: there should be a balance among the three dimensions for the whole society.
  • Alternative Solutions: should be taken into account.
  • Popular Participation and Consultation: should be encouraged.
  • Impact Assessment Tools: must be applied in the process of decision making.

Sustainable Development Goals

The report of the Working Group on sustainable development of the General Assembly of the United Nations in August 2014 summarized sustainable development goals as following:

  • The eradication of poverty in all its forms everywhere.
  • The elimination of hunger and food security, improved nutrition and the promotion of sustainable agriculture.
  • Insuring healthy living patterns for all ages.
  • Ensuring equitable education for all and promotion of lifelong learning opportunities for all.
  • Gender equality and the empowerment of women and girls.
  • Ensure water and sanitation availability for all and its sustainable management.
  • Ensure an affordable access for modern reliable and sustainable energy services.
  • Promoting sustained and inclusive economic growth for all and sustainable, full and productive employment and suitable work for all.
  • Establishment of strong infrastructure and stimulating the comprehensive manufacturing for all, and encouraging innovation.
  • Reducing inequality within countries and among them.
  • Establishing sustainable cities and comprehensive safe human settlements.
  • Ensuring a sustainable production and consumption patterns.
  • Taking urgent actions to address climate change and its impacts.
  • Conservation of oceans, seas and marine resources and ensuring sustainable use for them to achieve sustainable development.
  • The protection and restoration of terrestrial ecosystems, promoting its sustainable use, sustainable management of forests, combating desertification, stop land degradation, and prevent biodiversity loss.
  • Encouraging the establishment of peaceful societies without marginalizing anybody in order to achieve sustainable development, and to provide universal access to justice, and to build effective, accountable and comprehensive institutions at all levels.
  • Strengthening means of implementation and stimulating the global partnership for sustainable development.

The objectives of sustainable development goals will have a more clear indicators that focus on measurable results, and it has action-oriented, an universal character, applicable to everyone, take into account the different facts, capacities and national development levels and respect national policies and priorities. It includes goals and objectives as well as social, environmental and economic aspects as well as recognizing the links between them to achieve sustainable development in all its dimensions.

Guidelines for the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals

Achievements of sustainable development goals need a consistent system that includes technological, economic and social policies in a comprehensive plan for development. This plan included the management of natural resources and human capital in an economic way to achieve economic growth; it aims to promote the quality of life of the Egyptian citizen while maintaining the quality of the environment and its natural resources for current and future generations.

The following is a guiding principles for ministries and agencies to make use in developing an effective policies that help in achieving sustainable development goals:

1- The principle of strategic planning:
The achievement of sustainable development requires political and institutional changes designed carefully to meet the needs that have been identified. This is achieved through the application of the principle of "strategic planning". This requires the application of strategic environmental assessment systems, and accumulative environmental assessment when setting goals, then the environmental impact assessment for each project. The application of strategic planning should be based on the broad participation of all relevant stakeholders to achieve the best results for everyone.

2- The principal of building the strategy process on good technical analysis:
The national strategy for sustainable development depends on a careful analysis of the current situation and future trends and risks, identifying the links between local, national and global challenges. For example the external pressures imposed on the country will be included, resulting from globalization or climate change impacts, this analysis will depend on the documented information on changing environmental, social and economic conditions in addition to the way to respond to it as well as how they relate to strategy objectives and indicators and it will use local capabilities and available data to conduct the analysis, and the analysis will reflect the viewpoint of all partners.

3- The principle of setting realistic and flexible policy objectives:
Goals are set to determine the quantity and quality of the expected outputs or wanted conditions. Goals accompanied by incentives to implement the most effective policy tools, that will be used when it is available, the goals will be a challenge; however, they are realistic and can be achieved.

4- The principle of interdependence between the budget and strategic priorities:
The strategy should be inserted in strategic planning process to ensure the provision of financial resources of the strategy components in order to achieve its objectives.

5- Principle of integrated policy between the different sectors:
The National committee of Sustainable Development will work to support sustainable development policies, and joint committees will be formed among relevant ministries if needed, the central authorities and governorates and local development units are working to integrate environmental protection and social cohesion in all sectoral policies. At the local level there should be an institutional adjustments required to reflect the needs of different sectors to achieve sustainable development.

National committee of Sustainable Development will be responsible for coordination among the strategies and sectoral plans and programs taking into account the social impacts and the necessity to integrate environmental and social considerations into sectoral policies such as agricultural, industrial and social policy, energy policy, transport ... etc. This will be done through the overall analysis of state policy in order to determine the different policies, plans and programs including:

  • National environmental action plans and strategies.
  • The national strategy for environmental diversity action plans.
  • National strategies to protect the environment.
  • National plans to combat desertification.
  • Poverty reduction strategies.
  • Structural reform programs.
  • Urban development strategies plans.

It is difficult to achieve full integration of policies in order to achieve a greater integration; we should begin by identifying and conflicting policies and their impacts and hence the balance can be achieved among policies using the appropriate methodological tools. Noting that, this policy integration will mainly depend on negotiation and build a collective opinion among the beneficiaries.

6- Principle of good governance:
To achieve sustainable development, the governance on national, local levels and the governorates should be based on transparency in decision-making and participation of citizens and civil society in decision-making as well as responsibility and accountability in the implementation. There should also be a clear bases regarding the allocation of resources and using public funds, cost reduction and rationalization of expenditures and paying attention to social issues.

7- Decentralization of authority and the mandate principle:
It is necessary to gradually achieve the decentralization of decision-making to the lowest possible level, where responsibilities and specifications transfer from the central level to the regional and local levels. However, the government has the upper hand in policy-making and the development of legal frameworks that enable them to achieve their specific objectives.

8- Principle of raising awareness:
This principle emphasizes on the importance of education and capacity building to raise awareness and the recognition of all people of the issues of sustainable development and increase public awareness with these issues. Sustainable development will not be achieved without effective cooperation among all segments of society.

9- Principle of justice among generations:
Natural resources should be kept for future generations as much as the current generations received this wealth, in order to provide the same opportunities or better opportunities for future generations to meet their needs, as well as the current generation.

10- The principle of achieving justice for the current generation:
This principle calls for the equitable distribution of income and securing basic human needs for all segments of society. Nothing that the social inequity within this generation, can lead to social frustration and misuse of natural resources and destruction.

11- The principle of natural resources conservation:
This principle calls for the rational use of natural resources to ensure development sustainability and using the natural resources in a way that secures the biodiversity conservation and the protection of values, landscapes, where the renewable resources shall not transgress its ability to renew, in addition to using the non-renewable resources in a way that ensure the continuous, long-term and effective use, or by replacing them with other available resources or other manufactured materials such as replacing fossil fuels and replacing other non-renewable energy resources with renewable one and energy recovery resulting from waste.

12- The principle of polluter must pay:
If any activities of an entity caused any pressure on the environment, or its products, used or traded in environmentally harmful manner, these entities will be fined for causing this environmental degradation. Also these entities will bear the full cost to recover the environmental damages occurred. The principle of imposing pollution costs on the polluter provides incentives for industry to minimize or reduce the pollution, where the reduction of pollution will be an investment that will generate income.

13- The principle of user must pay:
This principle provides that any individual uses any natural resources should pay a realistic price in return for his use, provided that this value covers the costs of treatment of waste generated .This principle applies to services such as drinking water supply, and collecting sanitation water and its treatment, and collecting municipal waste and its disposal ...etc.

14- Principle of shared responsibility:
The achievement of sustainable development requires the common sense for users and their responsibility towards the reduction of development pressures on the environment, natural resources and community pressure.

15- The prevention principle:
The prevention from pollution is more effective than pollution treatment. On this basis, we should avoid activities that represent a threat to the environment and human health where these activities will be implemented in a way leading to:

  • Causing the least change to the environment.
  • Less dangerous to the environment and human health.
  • Reducing pressures on the environment and the rational use of raw materials and energy in construction, production, distribution and use.
  • Reducing impacts on the environment at the pollution source.

This principle will be applied through the implementation of the environmental impact assessment and using the best available techniques.

16- The principle of planning, urban development and land uses:
The urban planning and land-use planning is considered as a major tool to achieve sustainable urban and rural development, in addition to the sustainable land use and allocation of resources taking into account securing the economic and social efficiency, health and prosperity of rural and urban communities.

The State Approaches to Achieve Sustainable Development

The Egyptian Constitution of 2014 deepens Sustainable Development and its principles, and its three dimensions (social - economic - environmental) are clear. The social and economic dimensions are reflected directly in chapter (social fundamentals) and the second chapter (economic fundamentals) of Part II (the basic components of society), and some articles in the Constitution reflect both development dimensions indirectly.

It is clear in the social fundamentals of the Constitution that the State is committed to achieve the following:

  • Social justice and ensuring a good life for all citizens.
  • The achievement of equal opportunities for all citizens.
  • Equality between women and men in all civil, political, economic, social and cultural rights.
  • Protection of women against all forms of violence, and to provide care and protection of motherhood, childhood and woman breadwinners, elderly women and women in most need.
  • The provision of social security services for all citizens.
  • The provision of integrated health care for all citizens.
  • Free education for all stages in state educational institutions.
  • Freedom of scientific research and encouraging its institutions.

As reported in the chapter of rights, freedoms and public duties to emphasize the equality of rights, freedoms and public duties without discrimination for any reason.

As it is clear in the economic fundamentals chapter of the Constitution, that the economic system aims at achieving prosperity in the country through sustainable development and social justice, to ensure increasing the real growth rate of the national economy, and raising the standard of living and increase employment opportunities and reduces unemployment, and poverty eradication.
Economic system is also committed to transparency and governance standards, and supporting the competitiveness and encouraging investment, balanced growth and geographical, sectorial, and environmental growth and ensuring equal opportunities and equitable distribution of development revenues.

It is noteworthy that environmental dimension of sustainable development is integrated with various other articles of the Constitution, such as articles (44, 45, 46, 50) where the state is committed to the following:

  • Protection of the Nile River and not to waste its water or pollute it and the right of every citizen to enjoy it.
  • Protection of the seas, lakes, beaches and waterways of the state from any infringement or pollution.
  • Protection of fauna, flora and fish resources and the protection of the threatened species of danger or extinction.
  • Rational use of natural resources to ensure sustainable development achievement, and to ensure the rights of future generations.
  • Conservation of the civilizational, cultural and moral heritage of Egypt, and its maintenance.

It is clear from the foregoing that the three main dimensions of sustainable development (social - economic - environmental) are not separate from each other, and without the integration of these dimensions, the real change will not be achieved, which is necessary to secure a decent life for the Egyptian citizen and protect its environment on the short and long term.