In line with Egypt’s hosting of the COP27 Climate Summit, which opened on Sunday in Sharm El-Sheikh, the country’s Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research has been promoting scientific research on adaptation to climate change and the transition to a green economy.
On Saturday, the ministry announced the winners of a competition it launched in May for academic research projects that address climate change and green economy concerns.
Speaking at a news conference at the headquarters of the New Cairo Technological University, Ayman Ashour, the minister of higher education and scientific research, said the winning researchers had been awarded contracts worth a total of 106 million Egyptian pounds (about $4.4 million) for 67 projects.
The funding comes from two bodies affiliated with the ministry: the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT), which is providing 66 million Egyptian pounds for 43 winning projects, and the Science, Technology, and Innovation Funding Authority (STDF), which is offering 40 million pounds for 24 projects.
Ashour said the ministry was working to support applied scientific research to find innovative solutions to confront climate change effects.
Mahmoud Sakr, president of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, said that the competition came in line with the fifth goal of Egypt’s National Climate Change Strategy for 2050, which focuses on enhancing scientific research, technology transfer, knowledge management and awareness to combat climate change.
Sakr told Al-Fanar Media that the academy is participating in COP27, with a pavilion displaying 24 projects from various universities and research institutes.
A Sampling of Winning Projects
The winning researchers are based at public and private universities and research institutes. Several of them spoke to Al-Fanar Media about their projects.
Winning projects will study ideas like developing disease-resistant crops without using pesticides, using wind pressure to ventilate residential and industrial buildings, and using natural materials to purify water.
Adel Hagras, a professor in the wheat research department at the Agricultural Research Centre, said that his project would study ways of making wheat more resistant to “yellow rust”, a disease that damages wheat plants, reducing crop yields and posing a threat to the global food supply.
Hagras said that his research would seek solutions that reduced the use of pesticides and promoted sustainable agricultural practices. “We found new cultivation ways, using genetic engineering to speed up the wheat production cycle, in the event of climatic changes responsible for the emergence of this pest,” he said. “Thus, wheat will be able to resist.”
The Academy of Scientific Research will finance the project over two years.
Mohamed Elsakka, from Port Said University’s Faculty of Engineering, said he was working on two research projects. One explores the use of artificial intelligence technology in seawater desalination. The other deals with using wind pressure to ventilate residential and industrial buildings and reduce their energy use for cooling and ventilation.
“These projects contribute to promoting sustainable development and meeting the requirements of the green economy,” he said. “These two studies will be applied in Port Said Governorate first, and later in the rest of Egypt’s governorates.”
Rania Nabil El-Shaheny, a professor of analytical chemistry at Mansoura University’s Faculty of Pharmacy, is studying the use of natural materials to purify drinking water.
Freshwater wells in the coastal governorates have become saline, she said. “So, we are looking at ways to desalinate water, using materials that will be manufactured from agricultural waste, such as rice and corn straw.”
She added that the project would confront confront climate change on two fronts, by recycling waste and saving water at the same time.
Hamada Shoukry, an assistant professor at the Housing and Building National Research Centre (HBRC), is studying the rationalisation of energy consumption in Egypt’s construction sector. His research aims to use innovative environmentally friendly, heat-reflecting, and fire-resistant materials. These materials are applied to the exterior facades of roofs of new and old buildings to prevent heat transfer to the interior of buildings, reducing dependence on air conditioners and thus reducing energy consumption.
“Implementing my project takes one year, through three phases,” he said. “The first stage begins with collecting the necessary information and conducting surveys on the places of application. The second stage is about purchasing raw materials to prepare samples that will be submitted to companies according to standard specifications.”
The project’s third phase entails an agreement to be made with the companies that will use these materials in their own paints, to implement this idea in Egypt’s various governorates.
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Read more about COP27, climate change, and the search for green technology solutions in Climate and Environment, an archive of Al-Fanar Media’s reporting on these topics.