Connect 4 the climate
A new initiative designed to raise awareness of climate change is catching on in Egypt, reports Niveen Wahish
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Clockwise from top left: Poverty by Maha Rakha; Cairo Sunset, Al-Muqattam by Mohamed Rashed; Waiting for an Education by Islam El-Eissawi
Irritated by the garbage floating on the Nile? Worried about the erosion of the Alexandria beaches? Make your voice heard, seek solutions and even have the world see it through your eyes through the Connect4Climate (C4C) initiative.
Launched by the World Bank, the C4C initiative is a campaign, a photography and video competition, and a community that cares and seeks to increase awareness about climate change. The initiative is supported by some 30 partners, including international organisations, social media networks, UN agencies, NGOs, academic institutions, as well as civil society, private sector, public sector and youth organisations.
The initiative, which has an initial focus on Africa, was kick-started with a photography and video competition designed to raise awareness about climate change. People aged from 13 to 35 may submit entries in five categories, including Agriculture, Energy, Forests, Gender, Health and Water.
15 November is the deadline for submitting entries. Limited resources are needed: in fact, a mobile phone with a camera could be the only tool needed to produce photographs or video. The initiative capitalises on the growing number of mobile-phone users in Africa and their increasing connectivity. According to World Bank figures, there are over 500 million mobile-phone users in Africa.
Around 200 photos have so far been submitted, Giulia Braga of the C4C Communications and Marketing department told the Weekly. It is hoped that the connections made through the C4C Facebook group, together with the images and videos uploaded on the site, will stimulate a global exchange amongst young environmental and developmental activists. Already the Facebook group has more than 21,500 members. And Egypt boasts some 4,000 users, Braga said.
The winners of the competition will be announced at the December 2011 United Nations Conference on Climate Change in Durban, South Africa. Prizes include solar backpacks, video cameras, and computer tablets. The best entries will be featured in an exhibition at the Conference.
After Durban, the initiative will evolve into a global platform for climate change and development issues. It will feature user-generated and partner-produced stories, culminating in another event at the United Nations Rio+20 Conference in June 2012.
Such initiatives aimed at increasing awareness of climate change in Egypt are believed to be much needed. Mohamed Nada, an environmental activist, says that Egyptians have many misconceptions about climate change, with many believing it concerns depletion of the ozone layer. Although some people may know that the temperature of the planet is rising, they may not understand the implications of that extra heat on the sea level, agriculture, or coral reefs.
≥íPeople do not believe it will affect their everyday lives,≥" Nada said.
A global consultation on climate policy carried out some years ago showed that the knowledge of 55 per cent of the group surveyed in Egypt varied between knowing nothing to knowing a little and knowing some information about climate change. 49 per cent of those surveyed said they knew a lot. The survey was carried out as part of the World Wide Views initiated by the Danish Board of Technology with Care Egypt as a local partner.
World Wide Views on Global Warming involved roughly 4,000 citizens in 38 countries spanning six continents. It was carried out ahead of the United Nations Climate Conference in Copenhagen in December 2009.
To apply for the C4C competition visit: https://connect4climate.org. The Facebook group is at http://www.facebook.com/Connect4Climate