The Embassy of Netherlands in Egypt and the Netherlands Enterprise Agency in the Hague, held an event entitled ‘COP 24 Rulebook – Climate Action in Egypt: From Plan to Operation’ with the objective of highlighting the outcomes of the 24th session of the United Nations Conference of Parties (COP 24), linking them to different sectors in Egypt and encouraging synergies between concerned actors, all in aspiration of boosting mitigation and adaption climate measures in Egypt.
The Netherlands finds it essential for nations to assist each other in fighting climate change; hence a fund was created for that purpose, Jean Louis Martens, deputy head of the Economic section at the Netherlands embassy in Cairo said, in his opening remarks on Thursday.
Martens highlighted the urgency of the issue of climate change between the Netherlands and Egypt, emphasising the necessity of lowering emissions and limiting temperature rise to 2C degrees rise above pre-industrial levels, or preferably 1.5C degrees.
He pointed out that Dutch Prime Minister, Mark Rutte, stated at the COP 24 in Poland, “What affects us all should concern us all”.
Maryam Gamal, a renewable energy engineer and climate advocate, represented the main outcomes of COP 24 – as she was a participant of this conference – which was supported by the Netherlands Enterprise Agency and the Netherlands embassy in Cairo.
After giving an overview on the history of the COPs within the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, she clarified some key Paris Agreement articles; such as the transparency framework, climate finance, carbon market, global stock take, and flexibility.
“Although faced with major stumbling blocks in the negotiations, and some issues are yet to be settled, COP 24 fulfilled its outcome; The establishment of the Paris Agreement Rulebook. This means that we now have executive regulations that make the Paris Agreement operational,” Maryam commented.
“With the climate change threats, especially on Egypt’s densely populated Delta and coastal zones, as well as socioeconomic conditions, Egypt cannot afford to fail, and perhaps multilateral climate policy has driven us as far possible and it is now time for action at the national level,” she concluded.
Panellist Essam Mohamed, assistant professor at the Institute of Global Health and Human Ecology at the Centre for Applied Research on the Environment and Sustainability, at The American University in Cairo, underscored the impact of climate change on water security in Egypt.
“We are expected to reach extreme water scarcity in 2020 due to the rising population levels and irrigation inefficiency, which consumes 85% of Egypt’s fresh water capacity,” announced Mohamed.
Desalination plants could potentially help overcome this bottleneck, only in the case of development of its technology to become more economically viable. He also explained the water-energy-food nexus and gave a few examples on projects that implemented this model, illustrating how this model benefited the projects and enhanced their objectives.
Rana El Guindy, energy economist and senior specialist at the Regional Centre for Renewable Energy and Energy Efficiency, discussed the link between energy efficiency, renewable energy, and climate change.
The state target is to have 22% of an energy mix from renewable energy by 2022, and 42% in 2035, she pointed out, adding, “Renewable energy does not only have a positive impact on the environment in terms of greenhouse gas emissions, but also on the economy of the state and the creation of jobs.”
She affirmed that studies have proven that the green energy sector managed to provide 9,000 jobs (both direct and indirect) in 2016.
Additionally, Kadria Abdel-Motaal, CEO of KAM Consulting, and co-founder and former president of Heliopolis Academy for Research, shared the highlight of her experience of the past 10 years in the sustainable agriculture model of SEKEM.
She explained how climate change affects the agricultural sector in Egypt in relation to the decline of land fertility and salinity, as well as our water resources, adding, “We need a more sustainable agricultural system. Biodynamic agriculture is the solution. It is a holistic system that takes all environmental factors into consideration while carrying out agricultural practices.”
Abdel-Motaal emphasised that SEKEM model’s success lies, not only in the implementation of biodynamic organic agriculture, but has also in desert land reclaiming.
Shady Abdallah, co-founder and CEO of Greenish and Mashana startups, discussed community engagement as a key element for fighting climate change, and how he attempts to achieve that through his startups.
Greenish focuses on advocacy and public engagement to shed light on the environmental impact of waste, while Mashana delivers products from local producers – with zero waste and in an ecological way – in return for unwanted products to be recycled instead of thrown away.
“When Greenish was being founded, many people could not relate climate change to their daily lives, that is why we decided to use more tangible approaches, such as showcasing the economic impacts of each phenomenon,” he admitted.
Shady proposed that another key element that deserves stronger focus is engaging people in discussions about the impact of their purchasing power.