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Editorial: Compelling mission
Published in Al-Ahram Weekly on 29 - 11 - 2007


By Seheir Kansouh-Habib
Beyond does not claim to be a scientific journal. However, its editors, and the wider AFICS family, being a multi-disciplinary group of scholars, scientists and development practitioners, believe that it is incumbent on us to offer another type of journalism in Egypt. We are taking upon ourselves the task of acting as a go between to bring closer together theory and practice, scientific thinking and policy making, and to make it all more accessible to civil society. We have received praise for our previous handling of serious issues in Beyond. But we also were cautioned that we may be too serious for the Egyptian reader.
We beg to differ with this latter view as there is a plethora of newspapers and magazines that focus on the lighter side of life (nothing wrong about that), or are too politicized, either when praising achievements, or by denying all progress. There are the technical reports and scientific journals that are read by specialized groups only. There is also the internet with its wondrous contribution to information and knowledge sharing, entertainment and communication. We may be among the few that seek to offer scientific thinking to the lay reader. If we are to make the hoped-for transition to democracy we all long for, we should be prepared to make informed decisions on issues that shape our lives.
The increasingly dire warning of impending disaster caused by the unprecedented global warming phenomenon comes as a shock to many of us, especially in the developing world, where the preoccupation of both our leaderships and civil society with pressing issues of socio economic problems, leads us to view matters related to the global environment as a luxury and henceforth remain low on the national priority agenda.
This is gradually changing thanks to environmental activists, the most prominent of whom is Al Gore, former Vice President of the United States. It is in view of his status and his personal motivation and stamina that he was able to launch his worldwide awareness campaign which was instrumental in drawing global attention to the climate crisis. We may not all have his power or status, but, quoting Dr. Saad Nagi, there is a need for a "community of solutions" by all individuals and the collectives.
We hope that our thematic approach to addressing issues , even if it only offers a "bird's eye view" of major issues of concern, enriches the reader's knowledge and contributes to raising awareness of risks and threats surrounding us. We also aim to show that there are many thinkers and practitioners in our midst who have valuable contributions to make on solutions to the problems we face.
The major question confronting us is: Will we as a society come together to steer action towards meeting the global challenge that is expected to be particularly harsh on our country and our region? Having scientists of the caliber of Mostafa Tolba, Abdel-Fattah El-Qasas and Mohamed El Raey, and having tools such as the UNDP Human Development Report give us hope. If we only succeed in making their voices heard, we will have done something in the right direction.
We all count.


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