As negotiators strove to finalise the COP27 Climate Change Conference in Sharm El-Sheikh late this week, a regional official with the United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) talked with Al-Fanar Media about the promise green hydrogen holds in the transition to clean energy.
Green hydrogen is just one of the issues UNIDO pursued at the summit, Ahmed Rezk, the U.N. organisation’s deputy regional director in Egypt, said in an interview. Its top priorities, he added, were a just transformation of industry and the reduction of carbon emissions.
UNIDO seeks to achieve the goal of reducing emissions by developing efficient use of resources and clean technology, and by encouraging the reduction of carbon emissions, specifically in energy-intensive industries, such as iron and steel, and fertilisers, said Rezk, whose Cairo office covers a region that includes Egypt, Libya, Tunisia, Algeria, Morocco, Sudan, Djibouti and Yemen.
At COP27, UNIDO signed two memoranda of understanding, one with the climate and impact fund manager Camco and the other with the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The agreements aim to intensify the organisation’s investments in climate-resilient agriculture and promoting the transition towards sustainable energy through green hydrogen.
Green hydrogen represents a huge opportunity for developing countries to transition to clean energy, Rezk said.
Key Messages at the Summit
Besides promoting a circular economy (an economy based on recycling), clean energy, green hydrogen, and sustainability, UNIDO presented key messages at the climate summit, including calling for climate justice for future generations, taking into account the workforce of tomorrow, empowering future industry leaders, advocating for a just industry transformation, igniting a clean energy revolution in Africa employing green hydrogen, and connecting circular thinking between a healthy economy and the planet.
In line with these efforts, UNIDO is working on projects to encourage a green economy and sustainability in Egypt.
“We are implementing a number of projects to train youth and graduates, with a focus on women in the governorates of the Delta and Upper Egypt,” Rezk said.
As an example, he mentioned the Inclusive Green Growth project.
The United Nations Industrial Development Organisation (UNIDO) is intensifying its investments in climate-resilient agriculture and promoting the transition towards sustainable energy through green hydrogen, which represents a huge opportunity for developing countries, says Ahmed Rezk, UNIDO’s deputy regional director in Egypt.
Funded by the Swiss Agency for Development in Egypt, the project aims to build the capacities of policy- and decision-makers, and provide technical support to institutions, financiers, start-ups, and small, medium, and micro enterprises, across the green economy sectors, which include sustainable agriculture, food production, waste management, and sustainable energy.
These projects are being implemented through partnerships with Egypt’s government and national entities such as universities, governorates, and various government agencies.
UNIDO also works to empower women, by supporting their participation as business owners or employees in “value chain” industries such as handicrafts dates, and medicinal and aromatic plants. UNIDO provides training and assistance by adopting women’s businesses and supporting them to become entrepreneurs, Rezk said.
“We have positive models of partnership with Egyptian universities, such as the value chain development project for tomato industries, through which an educational centre is established at Alexandria University’s Faculty of Agriculture as a strategic partner,” said Rezk. “This is an example of partnerships with the most prestigious educational research institutions.”
He also said that the organisation has worked to develop innovation through the “Creative Hub” project, in cooperation with Egypt’s Ministry of Trade and Industry, which encourages linking innovators, entrepreneurs, and designers with collectives and craft industries.
Rezk added that Egypt’s UNIDO office works in three basic areas: preserving the environment, competitiveness, and projects with a social dimension, which are being implemented at the present time, with a total cost of over $36 million.
While these projects take between two and three years to complete, Rezk said that $22 million had been spent this year from the budget for development projects in Egypt.
Reducing Carbon Emissions
In addition to these efforts, UNIDO adopts, in cooperation with other international organisations, the call to reduce carbon emissions, achieve environmental sustainability in the industrial sector, shift to clean energy and raise energy efficiency in the industrial sector.
Innovation is also one of the organisation’s priorities, Rezk said, through development projects in several countries, to encourage and support economies that support spreading the culture of innovation in the industrial sector.
Asked about the repercussions on the organisation of Covid-19 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, Rezk said both were global challenges confronting all local and international bodies and organisations.
“We are facing inflation rates that negatively affect the cost of projects being implemented, while our financial resources are stable,” he said. “The challenges arising from Covid-19 and the war in Ukraine necessitated directing international support to aid and humanitarian affairs as an acute and urgent necessity.”
UNIDO has tried to overcome these crises, Rezk said. “The positive aspect includes reviewing operations, restructuring, and institutional development, besides taking into account international concerns along with the needs of developing countries, to ensure the continued success of development projects.”
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Read more about the COP27 climate summit and global climate concerns in Climate and Environment, an archive of Al-Fanar Media’s reporting on these topics.