Weeks ahead of COP27, the global climate-change conference that Egypt will host in November, experts attending a sustainable technology forum in Cairo proposed establishing a National Council for the Green Economy to promote the dissemination of green technology solutions in Egypt.
The US-Egypt Sustainable Technology Forum, held on September 13 at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo, was attended by representatives of major international companies, including Google, Microsoft, Honeywell, and Oracle.
Moustafa Moharram, founder and chief executive of Moharram & Partners, a public affairs and strategic communications firm in Cairo, moderated the session at which the proposed green economy council was discussed.
Moharram told Al-Fanar Media that participants thought that such a council would be a good opportunity to develop policies that aim to increase foreign investment in environmentally responsible projects in Egypt and fund the nation’s transition to a “green economy”—one that supports sustainable development and climate resilience.
The proposed National Council for the Green Economy would include representatives of all concerned ministries and official bodies, in addition to representatives of local and foreign private companies, said Moharram, whose company has been chosen as a partner for the Egyptian government in helping to find areas of public-private cooperation at the COP27 summit.
“The green economy is not only about climate change, but rather is an important area for investments that can help Egypt achieve great returns.”Moustafa Moharram, Founder and chief executive of Moharram & Partners
Moharram explained that the council would aim to present new ideas to overcome obstacles for companies that want to invest in green technology.
“My company is currently undertaking the process of drafting and preparing the proposal to be presented to Egypt’s government,” Moharram said. “The green economy is not only about climate change, but rather is an important area for investments that can help Egypt achieve great returns.”
Companies that participated in the sustainable technology forum this month were enthusiastic about the idea, Moharram said.
They hope the council will improve communication between government agencies and the private sector and help resolve any problems facing local or foreign companies that want to invest in the green economy, he said.
Keith Kirkham, a U.S. Embassy official in Cairo, told Al-Fanar Media that the United States was ready to cooperate with Egypt in establishing the proposed council, and to communicate with American and other international companies in Egypt.
Kirkham, who is the embassy’s regional minister-counsellor for commercial affairs, also called on the Egyptian government to cooperate more with private companies to achieve the country’s green economy goals.
Egypt’s Efforts in the Green Economy
Heba Maatouk, head of the Media Center at Egypt’s Ministry of Environment, said Egypt had several projects underway that encourage the transition to a green economy. These include the Industrial Pollution Abatement Project and environmental protection regulations in various laws governing the public and private industrial sectors. These programmes include 120 projects to reduce pollutants, she said.
Egypt’s green economy strategy also encourages industries to adopt sustainable consumption practices regarding their use of natural resources and raw materials, energy, and water, she said.
Other parts of the strategy include expanding support for small and medium industries in the environmental field, and encouraging reusing water and controlling industrial waste. Maatouk also pointed out that Egypt cooperates with the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) in many green economy projects, especially in the field of safe disposal of industrial and plastic waste.
New Legislation Needed
Hussein Abaza, a senior advisor to Egypt’s minister of environment on sustainable development issues, believes the green economy recommendations should be enacted through legislation that promotes related investments and sustainable development.
“Establishing the National Council for the Green Economy is a very good direction to enhance official cooperation with private sector companies, yet it needs legislation that codifies its application to companies that follow the trend towards a green economy.”Hussein Abaza, Senior advisor to Egypt’s minister of environment on sustainable development issues
He told Al-Fanar Media that “Egypt’s government aims to raise the percentage of green economy projects in the state’s investment plan from 30 percent 50 percent within two years.”
He added that the government had approved 691 environmentally friendly projects last year in the sectors of new and renewable energy, water and transportation. It also began issuing green star certificates to hotels that adopt environment friendly policies, he said.
“Establishing the National Council for the Green Economy is a very good direction to enhance official cooperation with private-sector companies,” Abaza said. “However, it needs legislation that codifies its application to companies that follow the trend towards a green economy.”
He also called for spreading the culture of the green economy through education in schools and universities, praising some academic experiences.
“Some colleges teach green economy in their curricula, such as the new and renewable energy programmes at the British University in Egypt,” he said. “It integrated disciplines such as tourism, industry, and agriculture within an environment-friendly approach.”
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Read more about Egypt’s preparations to host the COP27 climate-change conference in Climate and Environment, an archive of Al-Fanar Media’s reporting on this topic.