How did COP27 benefit Egypt’s adaptation plans?

At COP27, a number of countries also announced their support for Egypt in its war against climate change, but promises remain promises until they are implemented. 
At COP27, a number of countries also announced their support for Egypt in its war against climate change, but promises remain promises until they are implemented. 

COP27, which was hosted by Egyptin Sharm El-Sheikh duringNovember this year presented a good opportunity to introduce the country’s own climate adaptation projects for at the local and regional levels. A number of countries also announced their support for Egypt in its war against climate change, but promises remain promises until they are implemented. 

These promises are important for Egypt,  one of the countries most affected by climate change. The sixth report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) issued in 2022, predicted that the levels of the Mediterranean Sea  is expected to rise by one meter by 2050 as a result of global warming,  leading to the loss of a third of highly productive agricultural lands in the Nile Delta.

It is also expected that some cities along the northwest coast, such as Alexandria, Damietta, Rashid and Port Said will be submerged. This will cause more than 10 million people to move to the already densely populated Nile Valley region, according to the 2021 Egypt’s Human Development Report issued by the United Nations Development Program in cooperation with the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development. Now, With the conference winding up, a question emerges: To what extent will Egypt benefit from COP27 in paying the bill for losses and damages?

Egyptian global initiatives for adaptation

“This conference is a good opportunity to present Egypt’s projects and initiatives and cooperation between the public and private sectors, civil society and the international community as well,”  Dr. Ahmed Kamal, Egyptian Deputy Minister of Planning and Economic Development, informed Climate Tracker. “We have already existing projects and initiatives from before the conference, but the problem facing us and facing all countries with emerging economies is financing,”  

He added that the international community has an obligation to support the affected countries, stressing that “these environmental risks that we are facing are mainly caused by the major industrialized countries, while Egypt is one of the affected countries that pays the bill for the emissions produced by the developed countries.”

The presidency of the conference announced the launch of the “Sharm El-Sheikh Adaptation Agenda” with the aim of responding to the devastating effects of climate change affecting all peoples around the world, and providing global solutions that can be adopted at the local levels. 

It includes 30 pillars to enhance the adaptability of more than 4 billion people living in communities most vulnerable to climate change by 2030. The pillars relate to food security and agricultural systems, natural and water systems, human settlement systems, ocean and coastal systems, and infrastructure systems.

Minister Sameh Shoukry, President of the Conference, said during the launch of the agenda at COP 27 that the conference presidency will follow up on the implementation of this agenda and will receive a report on progress achieved, prior to the next session of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) in the United Arab Emirates next year.

Photo credit: Rahma Diaa

Initiatives in agriculture, gender, transportation and water

Egypt announced a number of initiatives including the Adaptation and Water Resilience Action Initiative (AWARe) in conjunction with the Water Day. With this, they aim to improve water supply, support the implementation of collaborative policies and adaptation actions related to water, and strengthen cooperation and interdependence between water and climate action.

On Agriculture and Adaptation Day, Egypt also launched  “A decent life for Africa resilient to climate change” initiative, represented by the Ministry of Planning and Local Development. This aims to improve the quality of life in 30% of the most vulnerable and poorest villages and rural areas in the African continent by 2030, in a way that is compatible with the climate changes it faces. 

On Gender Day, Egypt announced the African Women’s Initiative and Adaptation to Climate Change “AWCAP” in cooperation with the United Nations Women’s Organization.

Dr. Maya Morsi, President of the National Council for Women, said during the  launch that it is a distinguished initiative with a regional focus.  It will give Africa the opportunity to achieve the goals of the UNFCCC through the empowerment of women, to achieve synergy with the existing mechanisms and platforms that support women. Another aspect of the AWCAP is to design Africa-specific interventions to support women as an active party in the process of a just transition.

On the sidelines of the Solutions Day, Egypt launched the “Sustainable Transport and Urban Mobility” initiative, which aims to promote low-emission transport  across all modes of transportation. 

“The slogan ‘Together for Implementation’ is our motto,” Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Egyptian Minister of the Environment, said during the launch session of the Sustainable Transport Initiative. She said that the motto reflects the initiatives announced by the Egyptian presidency with the various partners, which is clear evidence that together we can advance the climate action agenda, and bridge the gaps with a multilateral work system that seeks implementation.

International initiatives to support Egypt and Africa

US President Joe Biden said during his speech at the conference that his country will provide $150 million to support African countries in facing the challenges of climate change.  Apart from that, The Netherlands invested two million euros in the initiative “Group of Champions of Delta and Coastal Regions,”  where a number of financing institutions joined this initiative, such as the Green Climate Fund, the Asian Development Bank, and the Inter-American Development Bank. They are committed to helping a number of countries adapt to the national climate, including Egypt, in addition to Bangladesh and Colombia.

The Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) also launched the first fund initiative to combat the impact of climate change on heritage sites, in cooperation with the Egyptian Ministry of Tourism and Antiquities, the United Nations Development Fund and UNESCO, in the countries of the Islamic world, including Egypt.

Gaps in adaptation 

Despite the launch of many initiatives aimed at adaptation, the gap is still wide between what is proposed and what is required in Egypt.

The updated Nationally Determined Contributions (NDC) report that Egypt submitted to the United Nations last July stated that the costs of implementing its mitigation and adaptation plans do not exceed US$246 billion, with US$196 for mitigation projects and US$50 billion for adaptation projects. The actual implementation, however, is conditional on providing adequate and appropriate international funding. He also pointed out that Egypt has a program that includes 17 existing projects, and 36 other projects planned until 2030.

The gaps in funding exist not just in Egypt, but other developing countries too, as the  United Nations Adaptation Gap Report 2022 mentions. It points out that the flows of financing adaptation international needs to developing countries are 5 to 10 times less than the estimated needs, and the gap is still widening.

He pointed out that the negotiations in previous years were mainly based on mitigation and reducing emissions without acknowledging a clear commitment to compensate developing countries for losses and damages.

“In the end, however, they remain mere initiatives and not mandatory decisions stipulated in the conference agreements. The same applies to the initiatives put forward by Egypt. They need the necessary funding in order to be implemented, especially Egypt’s initiatives at the level of the African continent. They are waiting for funding so that Egypt can implement them, and then we can feel the real benefit,” stated Dr. Hisham Issa – the former coordinating officer of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change and the former director of the Climate Change Center at the Ministry of Environment.

He pointed out that Egypt’s initiatives targeting the African continent have another positive side, which is the strengthening of Egypt’s relations with the countries of the African continent. He added, “It is good for Egypt to return to its role in coordination and joint cooperation with the African continent.”

This story was published with the support of Climate Tracker’s COP27 Climate Justice Journalism Fellowship.

Rahma Diaa
Rahma is a freelance Egyptian journalist and media trainer. She’s the founder of the Climate school initiative and the winner of Covering Climate Now’s Emerging Journalist Award 2021. She’s collaborated with Arab and foreign media, such as, Asharq news, Scientific American (Arabic version), climate tracker, VICE, and ARIJ websites and networks.