A panel discussion on the topic of climate change in its multiple dimensions took stage 28 February, organised by the Embassy the Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency under the title, "Climate Action in Egypt: From plan to operation."
Cairo is one of the capitals of the world most struggling with pollution, with the issue adding urgency to the discussion and hanging over the speakers and audience alike.
The objective of the event was to highlight the outcomes of the 24th session of the UN Conference of Parties (COP24), linking them to different sectors in Egypt and encouraging different stakeholders to adopt measures to address climate change in Egypt.
Mr Louis Martens, deputy head of the economic sector at the Dutch embassy, caught the attention of the audience when he quoted Dutch Prime Minister Mark Rutte: "What affects us all should concern us all."
Martens pointed to the similarities between Holland and Egypt as delta countries and highlighted the urgency of addressing climate change in both.
He concluded his remarks with a reminder that the main objective of the Paris agreement was lowering emissions and limiting the global temperature rise preferably to 1.5 degrees Celsius, stating that Netherlands finds it essential for nations to assist each other in fighting climate change, with a fund created for that purpose
A simplified overview of the history of COP and some key Paris agreement articles, like the carbon market, climate finance and transparency, was presented by Maryam Gamal, a renewable energy engineer and climate advocate.
"The establishment of the Paris Agreement Rulebook bought executive regulations that make the Paris agreement operational," Maryam said, highlighting the climate threats facing Egypt, with its densely populated Nile Delta and coastal zones.
Next, Essam Mohamed, assistant professor at the Institute of Global Health and Human Ecology (IGHHE) at the Centre for Applied Research on the Environment and Sustainability (CARES) of the American University in Cairo, talked about the water crisis in Egypt.
"We are expected to reach extreme water scarcity in 2020 due to rising population levels and irrigation inefficiency, which consumes 85 percent of Egypt's fresh water capacity," he said.
Mohamed stated that if the economic feasibility issue was resolved, desalination plants could present a solution.
Young energy economist Rana El-Guindy, who is a senior specialist at the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency (RCREEE), took to the podium to discuss the link between renewable energy, energy efficiency and climate change, stating that the benefits of renewable energy transcend a positive impact on the environment to include benefits to the economy of the state and the creation of job opportunities.
"The state target is to have 22 percent of our energy mix from renewable energy by 2022, and 42 percent in 2035, and the green energy sector managed to provide 9,000 jobs in 2016," El-Guindy said.
"Biodynamic agriculture is the solution," said Kadria Abdel-Motaal, CEO of KAM Consulting and co-founder and former president of the Heliopolis Academy for Research, explaining that it is a holistic system that takes all environmental factors into consideration while developing out agricultural practices.
She explained how climate change affects the agricultural sector in Egypt in relation to the decline in land fertility and salinity, as well as the depletion of water resources.
"We need a more sustainable agricultural system," she said.
Young entrepreneur, green activist and CEO of Greenish and Mashana startups, Shady Abdallah, caught the attention of participants.
Greenish focuses on advocacy and public engagement to shed light on the environmental impact of waste, while Mashana delivers products from local producers following ecological practices in return for unwanted products to be recycled instead of being thrown away.