CAIRO — Egypt has recently launched a series of environmental campaigns and initiatives as part of its preparations for the 2022 United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP27), which it will host in Sharm el-Sheikh Nov. 7.
On Aug. 20, the Central Administration for the Protection of Nature, affiliated with the Ministry of Environment, launched a campaign dubbed “Blue Lagoon,” which aims to raise awareness of the importance of nature reserves and their role in preserving the natural resources and biodiversity, and of the danger of plastic bags on sea animals.
The campaign will be active in the area stretching from the Blue Hole area, a top diving location in the Red Sea located a few kilometers north of Dahab in the Sinai Peninsula, to Ras Abu Gallum Protectorate, located between Dahab and Nuweiba.
Since its launching, several Egyptian and foreign volunteers took part in the collection of garbage in some parts of El Sahel administrative region as part of the campaign.
On Aug. 7, the Egyptian government also announced an initiative to plant 100 million trees. The “Green Lung” initiative aims to double the per capita share of green spaces, improve air quality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, benefit the economy, improve the citizens’ public health and generate economic returns, by planting a variety of trees, including fruit trees such as olives, woody trees and ornamental trees.
On July 31, the Ministry of Environment launched another campaign to restore the environment back to its pristine state. The campaign is designed to raise awareness of climate change-related issues in Egyptian society, and encourage people of all age groups to actively participate in protecting the environment from the effects of climate change and underscore their responsibility and important role in this issue.
On Sept. 25, 2020, the Ministry of Environment had launched the “Eco Egypt” campaign, which aims to protect natural reserves in Egypt, promote ecotourism and raise awareness among citizens of the importance of preserving biodiversity in the natural reserves.
The campaigns announced recently all come as part of the “Go Green” initiative launched on Dec. 29, 2019, under the patronage of President Abdel Fattah al-Sisi. The three-year initiative aims to educate citizens about the importance of preserving the environment and natural resources.
Saber Othman, former director of the climate change department at the Egyptian Ministry of Environment and chairman of the board of trustees of the Earth’s Climate for Sustainable Development Foundation, told Al-Monitor, “These initiatives are very important as they are diversified and target several social components, as well as tourists who are interested in visiting natural reserves and similar areas.”
He said, “These campaigns and initiatives aim to turn awareness about the environment and climate change into real action on the ground, just like the initiative to plant 100 million trees.”
Othman noted, “The Earth’s Climate for Sustainable Development Foundation will participate in this initiative [to plant 100 million trees] in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment by developing maps to determine the best locations for afforestation in a bid to help overcome the impact of climate change.”
He pointed out that determining the best locations to plant trees will help reduce heat islands — areas in cities that experience high temperatures due to several factors. Each tree will have a special code, similar to a birth certificate, which will include information on the tree, such as its age, type and quantity of CO2 it absorbs, he explained.
Othman added that the diversity of these campaigns will help further raise awareness of the importance of climate issues and the need to confront them, which will boost the people’s relations with green spaces and motivate them to preserve them.
Hossam Muharram, former adviser to the Egyptian minister of environment, told Al-Monitor that the government’s interest in green projects comes as part of the sustainable development strategy, known as Egypt Vision 2030, which is considered an important strategy to overcome local and global environmental challenges.
He said, “These challenges require concerted efforts to promote the environmental dimension in all development fields, and promote cooperation with development partners locally, regionally and internationally in the environment and green transformation fields, in order to ensure sustainable development and preserve natural resources, and subsequently maintain biodiversity, which is a strategic asset for humanity.”
The Egyptian efforts in preparation for the COP27 are not limited to the local level.
On Aug. 25, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry met with Danish Minister of Climate and Energy Dan Jorgensen. On Aug. 24, Egyptian Minister of Petroleum and Mineral Resources Tarek el-Mulla met with Cypriot Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and the Environment Costas Kadis. The two meetings focused on the latest developments in preparations for the COP27 and the most important topics on the conference’s agenda.
In turn, Muharram said the recent initiatives launched by the Egyptian government are a symbolic step on the right path to address climate change and serve sustainable development, especially ahead of the COP27.
He noted, however, that fighting climate change requires more efforts and greater commitment to reduce its effects.