The United Nation's Environment Programme's (UNEP) description of the state of the world at the onset of the third millennium should have served as sufficient warning: "The global human eco-system is threatened by grave imbalances in productivity and in the distribution of goods and services. A significant proportion of humanity still lives in dire poverty, and projected trends are for an increasing divergence between those that benefit from economic and technological development, and those that do not. This unsustainable progression of extremes of wealth and poverty threatens the stability of the whole human system, and with it the global environment."
And yet, more than five years later the global system continues to plunder what remains of our natural heritage bringing local and global accountability into stark relief. Bearing this responsibility in mind, Al-Ahram Weekly is launching, as of this week, its first monthly Environment page dedicated to the investigation of environment-related challenges.
In this issue, we bring together the global (in a review of the recently released UN Millennium Eco-system Analysis), and the local, with a focus on industrial environmental responsibility.
Egypt's first comprehensive environmental law, passed in 1994, stipulated that Egyptian industry had until 1 March, 1998 to clean up its act. Since then, however, the government has repeatedly noted the difficulty in implementing the law -- arguing that mass closures of offending factories would have dire economic consequences. It is also true, however, that continued violations are wreaking irreversible havoc.