Date(s) - 29/04/2015
On April 29th 2015, stakeholders of the Green Med Initiative (GMI) gathered in Alexandria for the conference “Fostering Recycling in the Mediterranean”, seeking to promote the implementation of the concept of recycling within the Mediterranean region.
Funded by the European Union under the umbrella of the ENPI CBC Med program for cross-border cooperation projects in the Mediterranean and implemented in Egypt by the Confederation of Egyptian European Business Associations (CEEBA) and the Association of Enterprises for Environmental Conservation (AEEC), the conference took place in the premises of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.
After the conference was opened by Mr. Ahmed El Wakil, Chairman of the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce and Dr. Alaa Ezz, Secretary General of CEEBA, the floor was given to Mr. Diego Escalona Paturel, representative of the EU Delegation to Egypt.
Mr. Diego Escalona Paturel strongly emphasized that the European Union is willing to face and solve environmental problems not only within its own borders but especially with neighboring and partnering countries such as Egypt. The bilateral cooperation plays an important role in the implementation of the Egyptian National Solid Waste Management, funded by the EU with around 60.1 million Euros. Mr. Paturel stated, that the EU is very happy to further evolve projects in the future, related to water management, waste treatment and recycling, integrated coastal zone management, as well as renewable energy and energy efficiency.
Mr. Paturel then passed the word toH.E. Mrs. Soad El-Kholy, Vice-Governor of Alexandria who stressed on the importance of the project for the Alexandria Governorate while stating facts about the current waste management status in the area. To manifest the commitment of the Alexandria governorate to the project and the concept of recycling a Memorandum of Understanding was signed between the governorate, the EU, the local GMI partners and the Alexandria Chamber of Commerce.
As successful recycling mechanisms can only be implemented by cooperating with society, the conference also gave voice to various stakeholders including schools, local authorities, ministries, universities, donor organizations with programs in the waste management sector and private organizations involved in recycling initiatives.
The conference provided space for debate and discussion in order to emphasize the importance of recycling. Waste is a resource that can be turned into profitable outputs if treated by efficient modern technologies. But this idea – this vision of using waste as a source for alternative usage and energy – needs to be spread among decision makers and young people.
GMI and its local partners first objective is to implement the usage of Reverse Vending Machines piloted in schools and universities in 5 Mediterranean countries: Egypt, Italy, Lebanon, Spain and Tunisia. In order to discuss difficulties and challenges of implementation on a regional level, the GMI project partners were participating at the conference on Fostering Recycling in the Mediterranean and voiced their opinions.
Diana Kobayter – Project Manager of GMI and representative of the Chamber of Commerce of Beirut and Mount Lebanon – delivered a first impression on the project pilot which was implemented in Barcelona, Spain in cooperation with ASCAME, the Barcelona Chamber of Commerce and Funditec. The three organisations collaboratively launched Reverse Vending Machines in Universities in the Catalan region, in order to make campuses not only cleaner but also to increase ecological awareness of young people and students.
After the audience learned about the first steps of a successful recycling project, Dr. Alaa Ezz continued the discussion in order to debate the chances and challenges of implementing recycling mechanisms in Alexandria. The audience, especially directors and representatives from schools and universities from the Alexandria governate but also stakeholders from various ministries engaged in this highly fruitful debate.
Last but not least Ms. Reem Hatem gave a presentation about the “Out to Sea? The Plastic Garbage project”.This project aims to raise awareness towards the importance of recycling and reusing plastic waste all over the world through encouraging action and changing behavior.
One of the promises of this event was to include and involve various kinds of stakeholders who could support and benefit the process of implementation. The strong enthusiasm of participants has shown that this goal was reached and that together with highly committed organizations and institutions first successful steps towards a stronger awareness for the importance of recycling initiatives in the Mediterranean were made.