CAIRO — Ahead of the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2022 (COP27) that Egypt is hosting in November, the government is considering selecting 18 national green and sustainable development projects out of 6,281 projects competing in the National Initiative for Green and Sustainable Development to benefit from international or regional funding. The move falls within the scope of the government’s plans to expand implementation and obtain adequate funding for climate adaptation and green sustainable development projects.
On Aug. 9, Prime Minister Mostafa Madbouly launched the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, with the aim of mapping executable smart green projects across the republic and attracting the necessary investments during COP27, which Egypt will host in Sharm el-Sheikh in November on behalf of African countries.
As of Sept. 20, 6,281 projects from all governorates applied to the initiative that the Egyptian government labels as a globally unprecedented initiative that focuses on the implementation of projects on the ground.
According to UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt and Jury Chairman of the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, Mahmoud Mohieldin, “Climate action must be local. It is normal for heads of state and experts to take part in conferences under the umbrella of international organizations, but ordinary citizens doubt the benefits of these conferences. It is necessary to think how the simple citizens in the villages of Egypt, who struggle daily with the challenges of poverty, unemployment and education, will benefit from Egypt hosting COP27.”
In a press statement, Mohieldin explained, "The launch of the National Green Projects Initiative is a model for integrated climate action that combines development, combating poverty, providing job opportunities, while mitigating climate change.”
The initiative divides competing projects into six categories according to the amount of financing required: mega projects; medium projects; small local projects, in particular projects related to women and the Decent Life Presidential Initiative; start-ups; development projects related to women, climate change and sustainability; and nonprofit social initiatives and participations.
Hussein Abaza, senior adviser to Egypt's minister of environment on sustainable development issues and member of the National Committee for Green Projects, told Al-Monitor, “The committee received pitches for 6,281 projects, which is not a large number in light of the needs of green development in the Egyptian governorates. But these projects are a good start that can be tapped into. Unsuccessful projects may be restructured and formulated to meet the standards and requirements for the green project.”
In Egypt, weather fluctuations due to climate changes have caused severe damage to small farmers. The agricultural sector has been facing recurring crop damage and large agricultural areas have been submerged due to heavy rainfall, while frost has hit agricultural lands in the north of the Delta. These losses were borne by the farmers alone, amid lack of awareness of the mechanisms of adaptation to climate changes in the agricultural sector.
In regard to the possibility of providing the necessary funding for the implementation of the winning projects, Abaza said, “We hope to secure funding from international institutions, but there will also be local funding alternatives through the national private sector, which will be encouraged to invest in green projects.”
The Egyptian government is boosting the green economy as part of the economic development plans and pushing for the implementation of eco-friendly projects. Last year during COP26, Egypt rolled out its National Climate Change Strategy for 2050. The strategy revolves around five objectives for sustainable economic growth through low emissions development by increasing the share of renewable energy sources, maximizing energy efficiency, reducing greenhouse gas emissions from nonenergy activities, in addition to promoting local green banking and innovative financing mechanisms such as green bonds. On Sept. 29, 2020, Egypt became the first country in the Middle East and North Africa to issue a five-year sovereign green bond, for $750 million, with an interest rate of 5.75%.
The National Green Projects Initiative aims, in particular, to implement women-related development projects that drive empowerment and equal opportunities, and aim to enhance the role of women in the transition to the green economy.
In this vein, the National Council for Women launched campaigns to encourage and support women in the governorates to participate with projects that meet local needs and boost women's employment opportunities in green projects.
In an interview with Al-Monitor, Heba Hejres, member of the National Council for Women, said, “Enhancing the role of women and integrating them in sustainable green development projects in local communities is crucial. Just like men, women play a vital role in agricultural and small economic activities in villages.”
She noted that more campaigns are needed to raise environmental awareness and provide information on healthy and sustainable alternatives. “I believe women will be the most responsive in remedying any climate change negative repercussions that may affect their interests,” she added.
The National Initiative for Green Smart Projects panel of experts is expected to finalize the assessment and selection of projects in order to showcase 18 of them to the financing institutions at COP27.