UN Climate Change High Level Champion for Egypt and UN Special Envoy Mahmoud Mohieldin
His remarks came during a session about the green urban future in the shadow of the climate crisis, during the 38th annual African Union for Housing Finance Conference being held 28-30 November in Cairo.
Mohieldin, who is also the UN special envoy on financing 2030 sustainable development agenda, added that building green cities will help provide job opportunities and lower the cost of infrastructure, stimulate businesses productivity, increase the value of tourism, achieve long-term economic growth and increase food and water security.
He noted that transitioning to green urban societies will provide cleaner air and water, enhancing human health and increasing habitat for endangered species. Nature-based solutions will also increase finance efficiency and raise the value of the available funds for climate action, he added.
According to Mohieldin, cities play a key role in activating climate action for many reasons. First, they contribute to the climate crisis by emitting the largest amount of greenhouse gases, which require mitigation. Second, most urban areas are located on coasts threatened by rises in sea level, which demands adaptation measures.
Third, cities can reduce loss and damage from climate change by hosting early warning systems and providing social protection for people. In addition, cities are economic engines that can mobilise finance for climate action.
"The COP27 Presidential Sustainable Urban Resilience for the Next Generation (SURGe) initiative aims to enhance and accelerate local and urban climate action through multi-level governance, contributing to achieving the Paris Climate Goals and Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as a whole," Mohieldin said.
Mohieldin said that high level climate champions (HLCs) can work with non-state entities in cities to help achieve the NetZero target through mitigation. HLCs can also push for implementing the Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda accelerate the transition of sectors including food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans systems, human settlements and infrastructure in a way that enhances resilience to climate change.
"The Five Regional Roundtables initiative launched by Egypt’s presidency of COP27, UN regional economic commissions and HLCs resulted in a pipeline of projects that help urban societies reduce emissions and adapt to climate change in a holistic approach that aims to achieve SDGs through involving all stakeholders including private sector," Mohieldin stated.
Mohieldin said the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects has provided an Egyptian model for localising climate action. It has also created an investment map for Egypt’s governorates, stressing that this efficient model could be repeated in different countries.
He explained that of the Race to Resilience signatory cities, 80 percent reported having a climate action strategy in place. The HLCs can push towards turning these strategies into actual implementation in order to achieve resilience for four billion people by 2030, he added.