UNDP Egypt Appoints Omar Samra as National Goodwill Ambassador

UNDP Egypt Appoints Omar Samra as National Goodwill Ambassador

Photo: Handout from UNDP Egypt

Adventurer and public speaker Omar Samra was appointed Sunday as UNDP Egypt’s national Goodwill Ambassador to promote and advocate for the protection of the environment and youth empowerment, in line with the newly adopted Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Samra, acclaimed for his social engagement and passion for nature and travel, is the first Egyptian to complete the 7-Summits and the Explorers’ Grand Slam, after which he set up an adventure travel company, Wild Guanabana. In addition, he is engaged in numerous philanthropic activities for children. Samra is also set to become Egypt’s first astronaut.

Upon asking him what difference can one person make, UNDP Country Director Ignacio Artaza told Egyptian Streets that he believes that Samra has a projection that can reach many people.

“I think that obviously there [are] very few people in the world that can do anything by themselves, hence the importance of partnering together. We see that this partnership… is potentially very fruitful because we can match the passion, the ability to inspire others with what he does that Omar has through his achievements or our mandate, [with] our capacity to work in these areas,” Artaza said.

UNDP and Samra are set to work together for the next two years on a number of initiatives in an effort to increase sustainability, promote and explore protected areas in Egypt and encourage youth to become agents of change through entrepreneurship and innovation.

Samra will strive to advocate for the protection of the environment, calling for people to behave responsibly towards nature while enjoying it, as well as raising awareness about the impacts of climate change. He will also play a critical role in encouraging Egyptian youth to work and innovate to solve the most pressing development issues in their communities.

In pursuing his role, Samra will be conducting joint activities with the UNDP, whether through going to the field, meeting with youth, or going to various events, explained Artaza.

During the Sunday ceremony, Samra said, “I firmly believe that together with UNDP, we have found the perfect partnership to help effectively tackle some of the biggest challenges relating to conserving our environment and empowering our youth today. I hope that many more people and organizations join us on this journey. I’m confident that with our work, and the media’s voice, we can make a lasting positive difference that is felt by everyone.”

Speaking of the government’s efforts when it comes to environmental issues, Artaza stated that at a time of economic challenge and rising regional security concerns, “the government doesn’t have all the elements we wish to have to invest in all the areas that are of equal importance.

“There are choices that need to be made; education, health, job creation, security come as obviously the usual priorities,” he said.

Nevertheless, the Egyptian Ministry of Environment and the UNDP have managed to set up 30 protected areas in the country.

The UNDP is working with the ministry to ensure that there is a better management system in 15 of the 30 areas, in terms of access control to generate revenue through ticketing. The revenue could be invested back in the protected areas, so there can be better management of waste, better management of natural resources, promoting environmentally-friendly activities and facilities.

Broadly, Samra is to generate support for the SDGs, 17 global goals the UNDP put forth to shape the future in the next 15 years. The SDGs came into effect in January 2016 and they will continue to guide UNDP policy and funding for the next 15 years, according to the UNDP’s website. The SDGs include no poverty, peace, justice and strong institutions, quality education, affordable and clean energy, as well as gender equality.

“[This is] a call for action for all of us to call for sustainable development, to pursue universal peace and share prosperity in a way that we’re going to leave a better world for the future generations,” Artaza said.

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Aya Nader is an independent journalist based in Egypt, published in Open Democracy, Daily News Egypt, The National, and Al-Monitor, among others. She is an MA candidate in International Relations at the American University in Cairo.

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