In each country, Reef-World and the UN Environment Programme are proud to oversee Green Fins implementation with support from in-destination partners. As you may know if you’ve been reading this series, each active country has its own unique journey and challenges. We’ve already heard about some of the longer-standing Green Fins destinations. Now, it’s time for one of the newer active countries. It only launched a year ago (at the time of writing), but has already made huge strides in improving industry-wide sustainability. We give you: Green Fins Egypt…
2019: Green Fins Egypt is launched
The Reef-World Foundation had been receiving significant demand for the Green Fins programmes from dive centres across Egypt for some time. After much work and planning, implementation finally became possible in 2019. In June 2019, Reef-World’s Director Chloe visited Sharm El Sheikh for a scoping trip to determine the possibility of launching Green Fins Egypt.
Following a successful scoping trip, the Green Fins team piloted the programme in South Sinai Governorate in September 2019. Financing support from the United Nations Development Programme made this introduction and launch possible. The funding was part of its project “Mainstreaming the conservation and sustainable use of biodiversity into the tourism development and operations in threatened ecosystems in Egypt.”
Unlike most active Green Fins countries, the national government in Egypt was not able to support long term implementation costs. So, Reef-World needed to find a way to meet the high demand. We needed to make Green Fins accessible to Egyptian dive centres without government funding. The Chamber of Diving & Watersports (CDWS) kindly volunteered to lead Green Fins activities in the country. They are also absorbing 50% of the programme’s running costs with the other 50% being supported by the industry. Green Fins is one element of CDWS’ ambitious action plan to strengthen sustainability within the marine tourism sector across Egypt. The Ministry of Environment will be CDWS’ main counterpart in the implementation of Green Fins Egypt.
During the pilot, Green Fins certified four CDWS representatives as assessors. This means they can now recruit, train and conduct assessments of new Green Fins members in South Sinai Governorate.
About CDWS and Green Fins funding
CDWS is a non-profit organisation. Egyptian operators pay an annual CDWS membership fee of 5,500 Egyptian pounds (LE) to cover costs associated with audits. Those who would like to voluntarily participate in Green Fins will pay an additional fee to cover the programme’s associated. This is to ensure the programme is sustainable long term. CDWS is continuing to apply for grants to allow them to subsidise costs fully for the next few years.
Building on the successful pilot, Green Fins was expanded to be available to all dive and snorkel operators across Egypt (February 2020). The second phase of national introduction saw six new Green Fins Assessors trained in Red Sea Governorate. To ensure its members are fully compliant with the Code of Conduct, CDWS introduced a minimum environmental impact benchmark for certification. This is a world first for Green Fins.
Since the launch of Green Fins, CDWS has been rallying dive centres to join Green Fins and improve their sustainability. As a result, they can also attract eco-minded tourists. Hesham Gabr, Chair of the Chamber of Diving & Watersports, said: “In the coming year, we aim to certify 30 marine tourism operators, train 150 dive guides and raise awareness of sustainability best practice among 30,000 tourists. Green Fins is a critical part of our ambitious action plan to strengthen sustainability within the marine tourism sector across Egypt and we are excited to see the continued results.”
We were lucky to complete the roll out before the pandemic hit (March 2020) and travel restrictions prevented further implementation. However, the Green Fins Egypt team did not let this obstacle deter them. They have been doing all they can to assess members where it is possible and safe to do so.
2020: Arabic translations launched!
To reach more Egyptian dive guides with Green Fins’ messaging, CDWS and Reef-World unveiled new Green Fins Arabic translations. A representative from CDWS said: “It has been a year since we launched Green Fins Egypt. We are thrilled that these colourful, informative and fun awareness materials are now available in Arabic. There is a need for educational material in our language and those offered by Green Fins cover all aspects of the dive and snorkelling industry and their environmental challenges. We hope they will be used by the dive operators as a means to raise awareness.”