Sharm El-Sheikh to be free of single-use plastic bags in June ahead of COP27: Environment minister

Mai Ghandour, Wednesday 16 Mar 2022

Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad announced on Wednesday that Sharm El-Sheikh would be a city completely free of single-use plastic bags as of this June, in parallel with various other measures to turn it into a green city, coinciding with its preparation to host the UN Conference of Parties on Climate Change (COP27) this November.

Yasmine Fouad
Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad

Fouad noted that the national event of the National Climate Dialogue at the end of March aims to engage citizens in the process of confronting the effects of climate change, providing an opportunity for the local community of the city to choose appropriate alternatives to those bags.

The minister said the step comes within the national strategy to reduce single-use plastic bags and is in line with Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly’s announcement to transform the Red Sea resort city into an eco-friendly city in parallel with its hosting of the COP27, according to a statement on Wednesday by the cabinet.

Fouad’s remarks came during her meeting with Japan’s Ambassador to Cairo Oka Hiroshi on Wednesday, where they discussed cooperating in reducing plastic waste and other climate projects in preparation for the COP27.

According to a Back to Blue Report produced by Economist Impact in association with the Nippon Foundation, Egypt ranked 22 overall on the Plastics Management Index (PMI) out of 25 countries in relation to plastics management, systemic capacity, and stakeholder engagement. The report said that when compared to other countries, Egypt’s stakeholders had a late start in dealing with plastic waste.

In addition to combating single-use plastic bags in Sharm El-Sheikh, Fouad explained that the city is witnessing a set of other measures and various environmentally-friendly projects in the fields of electric transportation, waste management, use of renewable energy, and green tourism in hotels and diving centres.

Concerning cooperation with the Japanese side, the Egyptian minister hailed the Japanese role in providing technical support for the environment ministry since its inception, welcoming further discussion in reducing plastic waste, especially in marine areas, said the statement.

For his part, Ambassador Oka stressed that the environment field is one of the most successful fields in the Egyptian-Japanese partnership over the years.

He proposed to build on this cooperation by leveraging Japanese expertise in reducing plastic waste — especially Japanese technology — proposing biodegradable bags as an alternative for single-use plastic bags.

Moreover, they discussed the possibility of supporting the implementation of the first package of projects of the 2050 National Climate Change Strategy, especially in the fields of renewable energy, agricultural crops, managing coastal areas with nature-based solutions, and solar plants, in addition to electric transmission.

The Japanese official referred to an agreement Japan signed during a G20 meeting to reduce plastic waste and protect marine life, and further welcomed the possibility of cooperation with the Egyptian side in this regard.

Oka also emphasised his country’s interest in climate finance — which is evident through a commitment of $100 billion to support climate action in developing countries along with the allocation of $12 billion for five years to climate finance, which was increased in Glasgow to $14 billion — with a commitment to discuss a collective goal for climate finance and climate technology.

Late last year, Egypt – on the behalf of Africa – was selected to host the COP27, garnering massive attention from policy and decision-makers to combat climate change.

During the COP26 that was held in Glasgow in November 2021, Egypt launched the 2050 National Climate Change Strategy 2050 on the sidelines of the conference to achieve four objectives, including fostering climate change action governance, increasing sustainable economic growth, strengthening adaptation and resilience, and enhancing scientific research.

The country has become among the first developing countries to adopt decisive policies regarding climate change, whether by green transformation through building green cities, switching to clean transportation, or issuing green bonds.

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