The nature of the environmental problem requires strengthening civil society groups, harmonizing national efforts, and seeking regional and global cooperation. Accordingly, the necessity has emerged for an independent non-governmental Arab forum, active and influential in promoting policies and projects to support sustainable development and defining common environmental issues, in a manner which helps in designing plans to tackle future challenges. Here lies the essence of collaboration between civil society, governmental environment bodies and international organizations, allowing and encouraging citizens to express their own opinions on environmental policies and bear their responsibilities in protecting the environment.
As a result of a debate launched by Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia (Environment and Development) magazine, a group of Arab environmentalists have expressed their interest in founding a regional forum, grouping environmental NGOs and experts with academic institutions, research centres, media and the business community interested in advancing the principles of sustainable development. In consequence, the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED) has been created as a regional non-governmental, not-for-profit organization, which brings together those who are concerned about the issues of environment and sustainable development in the Arab world.
The setting out of a region-wide Arab forum for environment and development is equivalent to launching a major centre for dialogue and exchange of expertise on an institutional level. Common environmental problems demanding regional Arab cooperation are not few, among the most acute are water resources, air pollution, land degradation, desertification, and contamination of regional seas with the ensuing problems of low productivity. In order that the Arab countries may occupy a decent position in the new world market, we hope that this forum will succeed in encouraging Arab businessmen and economic institutions to collaborate in the direction of opening an Arab common market for products which are friendly to the environment as well as in the direction of unifying environmental measures. On this level, the Forum fosters the creation of links among Arab chambers of commerce and industry and among scientific research centres and educational institutions in the Arab world aiming, through environmental collaboration, at the development of joint environmental programmes. The Forum will seek to prompt governments to adopt and develop environmental laws in conformity with the nature of the problems currently prevailing in the Arab world, with an emphasis on putting these legislations into effect.
Propagating environmental awareness by means of supporting the role of environmental education and information and of non-governmental organizations active in the field of environment.
Bringing together those who are concerned about issues pertaining to environment and development in the Arab countries, in order to discuss regional and national problems in the light of changing conditions, and help to better resolve environment and development challenges.
Inciting Arab societies towards the protection of environment, the rational utilization of natural resources, and the realization of sustainable development, through the positive interaction of planners, decision makers, businessmen, civil society, media and others who are interested in environmental and developmental issues.