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AFED Secretariat presented its annual report
to the Board of Trustees, with overview of 2021, covering financial,
administrative and substantive aspects. The report started with a concluding summary:
In spite of the unprecedented challenging situation we have been facing in
Lebanon and the wider region, with its damaging effects on AFED operation and
funds, the use of AFED resources continues to increase. This should be a
message that, despite tough choices, the priority should be to finding ways to embolden
AFED operation, and widen the reach of its services, while strengthening its
online presence with continuous updates to the database. Financially, AFED has
to secure additional funds soon to ensure optimal operation. Below are
highlights of the report.
During 2021, recommendations of AFED reports resonated in national policies and development plans of more countries across the region, such as Green Middle East initiative announced by Saudi Arabia and various Green Economy initiatives in Egypt. AFED online manual on Environmental Education continued to be main resource for curricula, and AFED expert community and report authors continued to be sought after for professional panels, advisory committees and media appearances. AFED Secretariat acted as coordinating body.
In 2021, Essential services in Beirut literally collapsed, which made AFED operation a daily challenge, as we had to constantly improvise alternatives to secure survival. Due to measures related to the corona pandemic, travel was suspended and staff had to work long periods from home. The main aim in 2021 was to guard AFED presence, provide input to our main partners, and continue to update and provide unobstructed access to its resources.
- AFED 2020 Annual report on Health and the Environment had good reviews, was widely quoted and used as reference. Its printed version in book form was distributed to 300 contacts in the region and around the world, sponsored by AFED long-time associate ARAMEX courier service. Besides AFED members, recipients included ministries, embassies, regional and international organisations, research centres and universities of which are 22 selected top-notch universities outside the Arab region. In November 2021 AFED received the prestigious Parliamentary Assembly of the Mediterranean award for the report.
- All AFED reports and manuals were widely used online, by policy makers, researchers and the public, as demonstrated by citations and downloading. Other than on AFED own portal www.afedonline.org they were made available through depository services, such as Academia.edu.
- AFED news portal continues as the biggest daily updated public source on environment and development in Arabic. A glitch in the server which put some contents temporarily offline in March 2021 was fixed and all material could be restored. The site is updated on daily basis, with news and commentary, besides online monthly issue of Al-Bia Wal-Tanmia magazine. www.afedmag.com. The portal has been attracting an average monthly unique visits of 55,000 users.
- An average of 5 analytical papers and essays on selected issues related to environment and development matters have been prepared monthly and published on AFEDmag portal, as well as in a bi-weekly paper supplement in Asharq Al-Awsat newspaper.
- AFED Environmental Education manual online portal continues to be updated and freely accessible. It has been widely used across the region as curricula source by ministries, besides teaching material at schools. www.afed-ecoschool.org
- The Secretariat has organized the contribution of over 12 AFED associates and report authors as commentators/analysts for different major media outlets, including Al Arabia, Al-Ekhbaria, Al-Hurra, Bloomberg- Asharq, Sky News, BBC, TRT, Al-Aan. The Secretary General represented AFED in over 30 appearances during the year to analyse environment and climate policies for major broadcasters.
- AFED Secretariat and associates virtually participated in many consultations and panels, including COP26 in Glasgow, and provided comments/input to various international reports, mainly to UNEP’s Global Environment Outlook, where we stay on the Steering Committee.
EMERGENCY PLAN 2022
The report indicated that the main goal in 2022 is to keep advance AFED mission under stringent circumstances, by providing expert advice to selected regional and international bodies through AFED Secretariat and AFED associates, and making AFED online resources available and updated, including AFED Reports, News portal and Environmental Education portal, with related social media. An Advisory Committee of experts from AFED community will be created to implement the plan, and propose areas of interest.