The Egyptian Sustainable Development Forum (ESDF) launched a public platform on climate action on Friday as part of the National Week for Sustainable Development. The platform aims to encourage civil society to participate in preparations for COP27, slated to be held in Sharm El-Sheikh in November.
The launch came in tandem with the ESDF’s Our Country Hosts Climate Summit initiative, organised in cooperation with the Arab Office for Youth and the Environment and the Arab Network for Environment and Development. It was attended by Minister of Environment Yasmine Fouad, chair of ESDF’s board of trustees Emad Al-Din Adly, and representatives from different governorates.
During her participation in the activities of the eighth National Week for Sustainable Development, Fouad announced the launch of a nationwide competition for small and medium-sized enterprises to turn Egypt’s provincial cities green. She urged university students to become involved in the project in which she said every governorate is taking part.
The government wants the environment to be a priority concern for everyone, the minister continued. Fouad then pointed out that the state has re-formed the National Council for Climate Change under the presidency of the prime minister and has launched a National Strategy for Climate Change 2050.
The government, she said, is pursuing a three-pronged plan on climate action which includes reducing carbon emissions, especially in the energy, waste, transport, and industrial sectors, and success depends on securing cooperation between the state and NGOs.
The state has compiled a list of projects and identified what is needed to advance mitigation and adaptation, and is opening the door to private sector participation in areas including transport, renewable energy, decarbonisation of the petroleum sector, beach protection, agriculture, the production of crops that can withstand climate change, and desalination of sea water.
The projects, Fouad continued, will be implemented through innovative financing tools, including joint financing of long-term loans, grants and microfinance, and the first batch of energy, water and food projects is currently being finalised.
The minister also referenced the National Dialogue on Climate Action, recently launched by the Ministry of Environment in Sharm El-Sheikh, which stresses the importance of adopting daily habits that contribute to reducing environmental damage, and Science and Technology Day which will coincide with the upcoming COP27 and focus on presenting international reports on climate change.
Meanwhile, the minister of higher education is overseeing the creation of a network of university climate researchers whose work will be showcased during the UN conference.
It is important that everybody becomes involved in mitigating the impacts of climate change, including children, said Fouad. She noted that climate change, biodiversity and environmental sustainability were added to school curricula two years ago and Egypt, like many other countries, is integrating environmental concepts into different school subjects to raise pupils’ awareness of environmental issues.
Insisting that critical times call for radical measures, Adly called on state institutions and NGOs to work together to reduce the effects of climate change and spread awareness of the threats the planet faces.
The eighth National Week for Sustainable Development, Adly continued, offered an opportunity to publicise the National Strategy for Climate Change 2050, which Egypt launched in May, and to detail the role of NGOs in the strategy.
The event is coordinating with the Our Country Hosts Climate Summit initiative across local platforms in order to encourage cooperation between NGOs and state bodies to pursue sustainable development based on Egypt’s Vision 2030, and the ESDF has called for awareness raising campaigns and activities on the ground to be intensified in order to increase the public’s knowledge about the devastating impact of untrammelled climate change.
The Ministry of Planning and Economic Development’s Mohamed Alaa underlined that tackling the economic and political aspects of climate change requires a multi-sectoral approach, including government bodies, civil society, the private sector, research centres and international institutions, and that addressing climate issues requires technical and financial support, technology transfer, and a coherent focus on sustainable development.
The cost of green projects in the 2022-23 budget is targeted at LE336 billion or 40 per cent of total public investments, he noted, and the goal is to reach 50 per cent of total public investments by 2025.
Egypt is also the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to release green bonds, currently worth $750 million, said Alaa, who went on to highlight the government’s package of tax incentives to boost investments in the green economy.
A version of this article appears in print in the 23 June, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.