Promising opportunities to invest in climate action in Middle East and North Africa: Mohieldin

Ahram Online , Sunday 26 Feb 2023

Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN climate change high level champion for Egypt, said that the Middle East and North Africa region has opportunities and resources that make it ripe for investment in climate action and a just transition.

Mahmoud Mohieldin
UN Climate Change High Level Champion for Egypt and UN Special Envoy, Mahmoud Mohieldin


Mohieldin, who is also the UN special envoy on financing the 2030 sustainable development agenda, made his remarks on Sunday during a session titled "Advancing Positive Climate Policies in the Middle East and North Africa" within the activities of the Accelerating Green Investments in the Middle East and North Africa conference.

The conference was organised by the Regional Council of American Chambers of Commerce in the Middle East and North Africa.

The conference witnessed the participation of Ambassador Daniel Rubinstein, acting US ambassador to Cairo; Tarek Tawfik, president of the American Chamber of Commerce in Cairo and chairman of the Regional Council of the American Chambers of Commerce in the Middle East and North Africa; Sarah El Battouty, UN ambassador for climate change; and Marty Durbin, senior vice president of policy and the president of Global Energy Institute at AmCham, as well as a number of heads of major companies and heads of the American chambers of commerce in the region.

Mohieldin stated that countries in the Middle East and North Africa share the same challenges of climate change, such as water scarcity, desertification and sea level rise. They also have vast renewable energy resources such as solar and wind and have great ambitions regarding green hydrogen.

He indicated that countries of the region are strongly motivated to implement holistic, well-balanced climate action, but they need more cooperation from developed countries and international organisations with regard to knowledge sharing, financing and capacity building.

Mohieldin added that Egypt, for example, has promising energy projects such as wind power plants in Zafarana and the solar power plant in Benban in the south of the country, in addition to several other distinguished projects. This is thanks to good management that combines technology solutions and cooperation with international development partners.

Moreover, Egypt has created a model for local climate action through the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, which contributed to raising awareness of climate issues and created an investment map across the country’s governorates.

Mohieldin reviewed the most prominent results of COP27, explaining that Egypt organised a successful climate conference despite the great challenges and crises experienced by the whole world. The conference generated important outputs, most notably the establishment of a loss and damage fund, the launch of the Sharm El-Sheikh adaptation agenda and the demand for reform of the global financing system to serve climate goals while maintaining emission reduction pledges, he added.

The climate champion expressed confidence in the UAE's ability to organise a successful climate conference this year based on the results of the Sharm El-Sheikh conference. The UAE has adopted a comprehensive approach that balances the different dimensions of climate action and links them to other sustainable development goals, he explained.

Mohieldin explained that climate action needs the concerted efforts of governments, civil society and the business sector, which is seen in climate action initiatives in many countries in the region, in Africa and developing countries in general. He pointed to the African Carbon Markets Initiative, which receives substantial attention from African governments and enjoys the active participation of the private sector, making it a promising opportunity to invest in climate action in Africa.

The climate champion stated that enhancing international efforts in the face of climate change requires developed countries to expand the funding and implementation of climate projects to different regions of the world. They must balance the attention paid to various areas of climate action, explaining that reducing emissions, adapting to climate change and dealing with the loss and damage caused by this phenomenon are equally important lines of defence against climate change.

Mohieldin pointed to what UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres stressed about the need for the world to redouble efforts to halve emissions by 2030, strengthen cooperation to create a more climate-resilient environment and deal seriously with the loss and damage caused by climate change.

He said that achieving the goal of reducing emissions is possible if there is genuine will and conscious leadership from governments and various organisations to optimise the use of technological solutions and direct financing to the most deserving areas.

In this context, Mohieldin explained that existing financing development and climate action is insufficient, inefficient, unfair and unbalanced. He stressed that overcoming the financing crisis needs reducing dependence on debt, swapping debt for investment in nature and climate and enhancing the participation of the private sector in climate action. In addition, international financial institutions and multilateral development banks should redirect finance towards different dimensions of climate action in a balanced way.

Mohieldin praised the initiatives launched by Egypt to strengthen the local and regional dimensions of climate action, such as the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, which included six categories of projects. This includes large-scale projects, medium projects, small local projects, especially associated with the Decent Life Initiative, projects submitted by startups, development projects related to women, climate change and sustainability, and non-profit community initiatives and participation. The initiative aims at involving all local actors in development and climate action, he added.

He also noted the Five Regional Roundtables initiative launched by the Egyptian presidency of COP27 in collaboration with the United Nations regional economic commissions and the Climate Champions Team, which resulted in dozens of regional projects worldwide covering various dimensions of climate action.

Mohieldin stressed the need for the international community to pay attention to middle-income countries, medium-sized enterprises and middle social groups, calling on financing institutions to adopt criteria for grants and soft loans, including setting an interest rate not exceeding one percent with long-term repayment and grace periods, explaining that middle-income countries should benefit from these grants and soft loans as well as the low-income countries.

Short link: