This profile was prepared when Mohamed Nagi was elected to the Ashoka Fellowship in 2003.
The New Idea
Mohamed, a lawyer, sees that most of Egypt's nearly 70 million people have no real understanding of the legal protections that exist for their health and safety and for the protection of the environment and natural resources. Whether in relation to occupational safety or air quality, few (especially the poorest, most vulnerable) know how to access the courts or apply the law and its protections. Mohammed encourages a new, proactive understanding of environmental rightsan understanding that to him means the freedom and the tools, resources, and know-how to protect against hazards and abuses. His efforts signify an important shift: putting citizens in charge and enabling them to operationalize environmental laws and regulatory mechanisms. Through advocacy and education, Mohamed joins the efforts of everyday citizens with experts and public officials to mobilize broad support and push for important legal wins. The hoped-for result is first of all a strong, assertive citizenry that will hold governmental institutions, businesses, and industries accountable for mismanagement of natural resources and breaches of safety requirements; and second, a cleaner, safer environment and accessible tools and resources to keep it that way.