Country platforms 'practical way' to push forward climate action, Egyptian minister says

Fair financing must also be prioritised to ensure the money goes where it should, Rania Al-Mashat tells The National

Minister reveals Egypt's key takeaways from Cop28 so far

Minister reveals Egypt's key takeaways from Cop28 so far
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Country platforms offer a "very practical way" to push forward climate action at a national level, with Egypt's NWFE (nexus of water, food and energy) programme an example of how the country is achieving its priority development and climate objectives, a senior official has said.

"I think today, there's more realisation that climate and development come hand in hand. So when we are thinking about a renewable energy project, or if we're thinking about a project that addresses food security or water security, such projects are able to achieve both goals," Rania Al-Mashat, Egypt's Minister of International Co-operation, told The National on the sidelines of the Cop28 summit in Dubai.

"They are developmental in nature because there are several SDGs [sustainable development goals] that might be met, but also, they contribute to the countries fulfilling their different nationally determined contributions, their NDCs."

Egypt announced the launch of NWFE, which means fulfilling pledges in Arabic, in July last year, before hosting Cop27 in Sharm El Sheikh in November 2022.

The platform has "significantly increased" Egypt’s access to previously untapped sources of climate finance and investment funds, the Ministry of International Co-operation said in a progress report last month.

The platform adopts a blended finance approach, addressing socio-economic challenges associated with climate change.

The total investment in the platform stands at $14.7 billion – $10 billion for the energy sector, $1.35 billion for the water sector and $3.35 billion for the agriculture and food security sector – the ministry said.

It has technical co-operation and financing from more than 30 stakeholders, covering debt swaps, guarantees, concessional loans, grants and private investments.

Political partners for the project include Germany and the US, while financing partners include the European Investment Bank and the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development, among others.

"When Egypt took over the presidency of Cop27, we wanted to be a JETP [just energy transition partnership] country," Ms Al-Mashat said.

"We wanted to have a country platform that would help us move forward in our transition. We do not use coal, so we're not a JETP country. And that's where the idea [came] of having our own country platform that not only addresses mitigation or renewable energy, but also addresses food security and water security, which are extremely important for Egypt," she said.

"In the energy sector, we have been able to update our NDCs to bring the renewable energy mix to 42 per cent [of installed capacity from either wind or renewables] by 2030 instead of 42 per cent by 2035. So this brings forward our commitment to the transition," she said.

In terms of private sector investments, the NWFE platform has mobilised $2.18 billion to finance solar and wind energy projects.

Egyptian president calls for urgent action at Cop28

Egyptian president calls for urgent action at Cop28

"For countries to move ahead with the climate goals, it really has to be nationally owned, it has to be within the blueprints of their national strategies. It has to be provided with a lot of buy-in domestically, from the private sector, from policymakers, from the public more generally," the minister said.

One of points of focus at Cop28 in terms of global climate financing is doubling down on country platforms, the minister said. But that requires support from all the parties involved, she said.

"The emphasis when it comes to concessional finance for climate action is the mention of country platforms and that concessional finance needs to be accessible, affordable, available," Ms Al-Mashat said.

Another aspect that she highlighted was the need for "just financing", to make sure that no one is left behind.

The amount needed for climate action in developing countries alone between now and 2030 is an estimated $2.4 trillion a year, the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development said in a recent report.

"We need to make sure that countries are meeting their historic responsibility, but that there's quality and quantity of financing that takes place. And quality here means that it's not just one time of financing and then it disappears, but there's a sustainable way to secure this financing through capacity-building, technical assistance and so forth," Ms Al-Mashat said.

While there have been several commitments and pledges made towards this cause, it is essential that the money makes its way to where it should.

"There's always going to be this struggle. Everybody saying there's so much money, but there's not enough demand because projects are not ready and countries complaining that they want to tap into this financing, but the financing is not there," she said.

"All of us need to work hard and in different ways to push forward: governments with respect to policy, with respect to objectives related to their NDCs, with respect to projects which are in line with all of this, but also multilateral development banks that can avail the concessionality, but also the technical assistance and the capacity building that's required."

Focus will also need to be given on how the financing can be made risk free to encourage more private sector engagement, she said.

"It's an agenda which reflects the Cop spirit, Cop is the conference of parties. So each and every party has to do its share to be able to move forward," she added.

Updated: December 08, 2023, 11:30 AM