IPS – Inter Press Service News Agency
May 6th, 2008

At a bread queue in CairoThe Regional Media Forum “Fuelling Hunger in the Middle East: Biofuel Subsidies Drive Food-Price Inflation”, was held in Alexandria, Egypt, on 17-19 April, jointly organized by the Global Subsidies Initiative, the Library of Alexandria, and IPS – Inter Press Service. The purpose of the Middle East Media Forum was to bring journalists and experts together to analyze and discuss the links between subsidies and sustainable development.

With the focus on the rising cost of food, which has led to mass protests in several countries in the Middle East and North Africa.

Senior experts from Germany, Sweden, the US, FAO, and the International Institute for Sustainable Development as well as from The Arab Network for Environment and Development, made detailed presentations on this key issue.

Emphasis was put on the factors that were contributing to sky-rocketing food prices. One of the key causes is the expanding production and consumption of biofuels, spurred by subsidies and mandatory targets in Europe and North America.

Senior journalists from major media in Egypt, Morocco, Tunisia, Syria, Lebanon and Turkey actively participated in the Forum and had also the chance to develop investigative story ideas on the links between subsidies and sustainable development, with the help of experts and senior media representatives in the region as well as GSI and IPS.

The Forum had large media coverage, with Nile TV and CNN World Reports, Alexandria TV and The Alexandria Library TV airing interviews with participants. Printed media in Egypt, such as Al Ahram, as well as in other Arab countries also covered the event.

The Alexandria Media Forum followed shortly the one on Subsidizing the Biofuels Boom: What Consequences for Latin America? held on 27 – 28 March, 2008, at the Incae Campus, Alajuela, Costa Rica and jointly organised by GSI, the INCAE Business School, and IPS Inter Press Service Latin America news agency.

Both the Latin America and the Middle East and North of Africa Media Forums are part of an ongoing series of regional media events designed to provide journalists a better understanding of the decisive role that subsidies play in key emerging challenges that face policy makers striving for a more sustainable world.

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