Linking the Green and Brown Agendas: A Case Study on Cairo, Egypt


The green agenda in cities is about ensuring the natural ecosystems of land, water and air are part of the city and its management. The brown agenda is about managing wastes, energy, transport and buildings. This paper uses the case study of Cairo to illustrate how these two agendas can be integrated and how town planning is necessary to facilitate this process.

There are few cities that have managed to bring both aspects of the environmental agenda into any kind of coherent set of policies. Cairo is by no means a shining example of success but it does show some promising signs. Cairo faces the very real struggles of a mega city to achieve a better future for its inhabitants in light of its many environmental challenges in both the green and brown agendas. Developing mega cities like Cairo may lag behind in providing many aspects of the “developed city”, such as sufficient service provision, efficient infrastructure and adequate housing for the population, but they are linking the green and brown agendas in earlier stages of development. Indeed, in observing the successes and failures of Cairo, there are lessons to be learned by all cities.

Like many developing countries in the last half-century, Egypt has been faced with increasingly difficult urban planning challenges due to its economic and population explosions. Cities within Egypt have undergone massive urbanization due initially to the in-migration of rural populations and, currently, to escalating fertility rates, putting much strain on public service provision and quality of life. Cairo, as Egypt’s largest city and economic capital, has been the primary victim of the problems arising from such rapid growth. Yet, with a booming population and economy also come opportunities for sustainable development provided appropriate measures are taken. Egypt has a history of environmental policy making and sustainability has become a primary concern for the country since the Rio de Janeiro Earth Summit in 1992. The globalization of environmental concerns has perhaps provided the extra incentives needed to synthesize the country’s local environmental initiatives and link sustainability and development through the city’s planning.

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Publisher UN-HABITAT
Year 2009
Author(s) Duquennois A N, Newman P
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