All countries in the Mediterranean region are concerned with the conservation and fair distribution of water, which needs a common approach, as water became a ground for tensions and conflicts, said the Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Egypt Christian Berger.
Berger made his statements during his participation in the joint green talk webinar held on Monday on water sustainability and clean oceans.
The webinar was organised by the Portuguese Presidency of the Council of the European Union, in partnership with the European Investment Bank (EIB), and the EU delegation in Egypt.
The webinar is part of the EU-Africa 30 days of dialogue on green transition and green investment between African and European partners.
It is a series of events and virtual meetings organised across Africa and Europe beginning on 24 March and culminating on 23 April, with the high-level EU-Africa Green Investment Forum, being held in Lisbon.
The forum and the green talks are unlocking a month of dialogue and debate between the two continents, paving the way to the preparation of the next summit between the European Union and the African Union.
“We need to work together to face the shared challenges of water resource management and ensure these are effectively addressed. We are working together with our Egyptian partners to this end. Today’s event is a cornerstone to remind ourselves that sustainable management of water resources, at both local and regional levels, requires global action,” said Berger.
“The benefits of strong international cooperation will extend well beyond the water sector. Everyone will have to play a part to enhance safe, secure, resilient, ecologically sustainable and inclusive access to water and sanitation, as this is a shared responsibility while offering an opportunity for our economies and societies.”
He also added that the EU invested, so far, about €5 million in the water and sanitation sector in Egypt, highlighting a number of projects that are currently being implemented in partnership with the EU.
He said that the region needs to invest in water and sanitation infrastructure and human capital as well as increase awareness about water scarcity and how to make it a sustainable resource, urging Mediterranean countries to meet their obligations towards the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) and to expand the circular economy as a way to achieve water sustainability and preservation.
On her side, Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat noted that water is the foundation for all development growth and economic stability.
“Through our international partnerships for sustainable development, Egypt is dedicated to supporting green growth and responsible consumption of all natural resources, with the Ministry of International Cooperation allocating more than 19.4 percent of its development financing to SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation in 2020,” said Al-Mashat.
Manuela Franco, Ambassador of Portugal in Egypt, said that climate change is a serious ongoing challenge that requires the acceleration of the green transition, either in Europe or in Africa, in order to build sustainable economies and prosperous societies.
“We need a clear understanding that we face the same problems, even though the approaches have been shaped differently by the history and culture of each nation. Different approaches, yet always aimed at the same objective: to provide water for all uses, in a sustainable manner, equitable and socially just, at a suitable price. This is why Portugal, currently in the presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, and the EIB, decided together to highlight the theme of Green Investment within the EU-Africa dialogue,” said the ambassador.
She added that the Cairo Green Talk will focus on water sustainability and clean oceans issues that are absolutely central to development and environmental sustainability.
Alfredo Abad, head of the EIB’s regional office in Cairo said that the EIB is the climate bank of the EU that supports high-impact investment across Africa and around the world.
“The objective of Cairo Green Talk is to foster a mutually beneficial exchange of views and lessons from a successful sustainable investment experience with partners. The Water sector is an important area of EIB investment, which the bank has been investing in heavily,” said Abad.
Three billion people depend on marine and coastal biodiversity for their livelihoods, while marine and coastal industries are estimated at $3,000 billion per year, representing 5 percent of GDP, according to Abad.
He added that oceans regulate the global climate as the largest carbon sink on the planet, absorbing almost 30 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions and 90 percent of the excess heat caused by global warming.
He also noted that 8 million metric tons of plastic waste is discharged into the world’s oceans every year, threatening marine ecosystems, people, and communities that depend on clean oceans, while 2 billion people lack basic waste collection services.
“Water is a sector and also a connector, connector of goods, cultures, and so many necessities across the world,” said Abad.