Egypt-ICF2022: From pledges to implementation

Doaa A. Moneim, Tuesday 13 Sep 2022

The second edition of the Egypt International Cooperation Forum took place in the New Administrative Capital last week on the theme of “From pledges to implementation” on climate change, writes Doaa A. Moneim

 

Organised by the Ministry of International Cooperation, the Egypt International Cooperation Forum (Egypt-ICF2022) brought together hundreds of dignitaries and representatives of international financial institutions.

Twenty-three African countries participated in the event and contributed to drafting recommendations that will provide guidelines for work at the UN 27th Conference of the Partners on Climate Change (COP27) that Egypt is set to host in Sharm El-Sheikh in November.

The forum came up with two nationally innovative projects to accelerate mitigation and adaptation efforts to climate change in Africa: the Egypt Country Platform for the Nexus on Water, Food, and Energy (NWFE) and the Sharm El-Sheikh Guidebook for Just Financing.

 

THE NWFE GOES LIVE: The Ministry of International Cooperation launched the NWFE, a national platform for green projects, at the Egypt-ICF2022, with the objective of producing a list of national projects in energy, food, and water that are all aligned with Egypt’s National Strategy for Climate Change 2050.

The NWFE is a unique and home-made model for an accelerator of climate action amid the severe impacts that climate change is causing, particularly in Africa. It presents main messages from Egypt ahead of the COP27 Conference and aims to stimulate the participation of the private sector in achieving the country’s 2030 National Agenda, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

It is a national scheme meant to implement Egypt’s nationally determined contributions (NDCs), a document which has been recently submitted and details Egypt’s commitments to lower emission targets by 2030.

It is part of the International Cooperation Ministry’s efforts to benefit from development funding and increase private-sector participation through blended finance de-risking tools in development projects, seeking to mobilise concessional development finance for a package of priority green development projects in the food, water, and energy sectors.

The programme falls within Egypt’s national agenda for supporting climate action, climate resilience and green projects (such as renewable energy), food security, and agricultural productivity, alongside sustainable infrastructure and transport aiming to achieve sustainable, low-emission development and enhance scientific research and technology transfers in the climate change field.

Part of the support for the NWFE programme will be provided in the form of a grant, while the other part will be soft financing and investment by the private sector at a total cost of nearly $10 billion.

The NWFE’s three sectors of focus are being supported and catalysed by a key international institution for each. The European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is the catalytic leader for the Energy Pillar. The UN’s International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is the catalytic leader for the Food Security Pillar, and the African Development Bank (AfDB) is the catalytic leader for the Water Pillar.

This is along with the support of other international financial and development institutions.

“The NWFE sets an example for a country-climate programme that integrates climate action into development efforts,” Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat told Al-Ahram Weekly, adding that Egypt targets leveraging partnerships and catalysing investments for climate action in line with its National Strategy for Climate Change 2050.

The aim is “a people-powered economy not just for Egypt but for the whole African continent as well,” she said.

Al-Mashat indicated that a key message of the NWFE is technical support, which is much needed for the African countries. At the same time, the SDGs will be intertwined with projects in the water, food and energy sectors.

President of the EBRD Odile Renaud Basso underlined the bank’s support for the Egyptian government in implementing the Energy Pillar of the national platform. She highlighted key features, including the closure of old gas-fired power-generating capacity and the delivery and rapid development of renewable generating capacity that would exploit Egypt’s solar and wind resources. There would be the targeted deployment of public money to unlock massive private investment, she added.

AfDB vice president for power, energy, climate change and green growth, Kevin Kariuki, said that consultations with various international financing institutions (IFIs) that are keen on supporting Egypt’s NWFE platform had leveraged pledges amounting to $2.37 billion, including $1.325 billion for water desalinisation using renewable energy, $102 million for scaling up solar pumps for irrigation, and $945 million for improving agricultural climate resilience by modernising on-farm practices.

Speaking to the Weekly, Kariuki stressed that the NWFE programme is well-aligned with the bank’s strategies and is line with its five priorities: to feed Africa, to light up and power Africa, to industrialise Africa, and to improve the quality of life for the people of Africa.

The NWFE is also in line with the bank’s water strategy, he said. “The bank’s vision is of a water-secure Africa, where there is equitable and sustainable use and management of water resources for quality socio-economic transformation,” Kariuki said.

“The bank intends to play a leading role in actively promoting the development of Africa’s water, agricultural and energy sectors through sustainable financial assistance and advisory services,” he added.

THE GUIDEBOOK FOR JUST FINANCING: The Ministry of International Cooperation also revealed an early draft of the Sharm El-Sheikh Guidebook for Just Financing, an operational tool meant to guide all stakeholders pumping finance into climate-action projects in Africa and to be a model to follow in other areas across the world.

The final version of the Guidebook will be officially launched during Finance Day, one of the days organised during the COP27 Climate Conference.

According to the draft, the Guidebook aims to help translate climate commitments into implementable projects. For the first time in the climate action sphere, it sees all capital providers as key players in climate financing and aims to ensure just financing outcomes.

These providers include policy-makers, public and private capital, export credit agencies, bilateral and multilateral funds, venture capital, philanthropy, private debt providers and banks, and national development banks, all key in providing the required finance to the shift from climate pledges to implementation.

During his participation at Egypt-ICF2022, Chair of the Institute for Global Change Tony Blair said the Guidebook was a practical tool that identified the challenges caused by climate change affecting the African continent and how to leverage public and private-sector finance to mitigate and adapt to them.

“It is now about implementation,” Blair said, in terms of accelerating climate-action efforts and fulfilling the developed countries’ financial commitments to the developing economies for adaptation and mitigation.

“We have to increase our commitments to the developing countries. It is more important now, besides fighting climate change itself,” Blair added.

The infrastructure gap in Africa is estimated at between $60 and $210 billion, according to the AfDB vice president for the private sector, infrastructure and industrialisation, Solomon Quaynor.

The biggest challenge is finding bankable projects to bridge this gap, he said, adding that he hoped the Guidebook would play a key role in mobilising climate finance for the continent. The AfDB has established the Africa50 bank to handle the infrastructure project-development challenge, he added.

Africa50 is an investment bank for infrastructure in Africa that focuses on high-impact national and regional projects in the energy, transport, ICT and water sectors. “We’re looking to raise about $500 billion of project-development funds, which would catalyse about $10 billion worth of green infrastructure funding in Africa in three to five years,” Quaynor said.

The AfDB estimates that the African countries need around $3 trillion to adapt to climate change. The agriculture and infrastructure sectors require the lion’s share of this financing (75 per cent), followed by water and natural-disaster management.


*A version of this article appears in print in the 15 September, 2022 edition of Al-Ahram Weekly.

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