Egypt is convening a gathering of African ministers of finance, economy and environment in Cairo today, 60 days before the UN Cop27 climate summit.
The meeting is part of the country’s push to frame Cop27 as an “African Cop”, which seeks to address the needs and aspirations of African countries, in addition to ensuring a global move “from pledges to implementation”.
Speaking to The National on the eve of the International Co-operation Forum, which Egypt is also hosting this week, Egypt's Minister of International Co-operation Rania Al Mashat said “climate action has to be nationally motivated”, and for Egypt, “climate and development come hand in hand”.
“Development projects in Egypt have had climate action at their heart since 2014,” she said.
One example of this is the recently launched programme “NWFE”, a subset of Egypt’s 2050 climate strategy that was announced last July.
“NWFE” stands for the nexus for water, food and energy, and looks at projects that work towards all three sectors. In Arabic, it means “fulfilling pledges”.
“For each of the pillars, energy, water and food, we have a lead financial institution and we have other financial institutions that are providing support during the ICF,” she said.
For the energy pillar, the European Bank of Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) is taking the lead, while the African Development Bank is leading the water pillar, and finally for the food pillar, the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD) is at the forefront.
Egypt is seeking to push the message of “adaptation and resilience, and also to move from pledges to implementation”.
Implementation will require financing. For Egypt, the financing required for NWFE is $14.7 billion, which it hopes to secure by November 2023 — that is, by the time Cop28 is held in Abu Dhabi.
There is a wider subset of projects under Egypt’s climate strategy, including green hydrogen, sustainable transport and other elements, that are being tackled separately from NWFE.
“We are working with international partners on identifying what each stakeholder needs to do to be able to see the pledges into implementation,” said Dr Al Mashat.
“There’s a role for the governments, there’s a role for the private sector and there’s a role for philanthropy.”
Representatives of governments, such as US Special Presidential Envoy John Kerry, international organisations and banking officials, will be present in Cairo.
On the role of the US, Dr Al Mashat said that the envoys of Washington and the UN were “very keen on providing climate finance”, and private American companies were in attendance looking at opportunities NWFE could present in terms of investable projects.
International financial institutions such as the EBRD, International Monetary Fund and others will also be represented at the Cairo meetings this week.
“To ensure that we have the implementation, there [has to be] access to finance by developing countries and African countries,” said Dr Al Mashat.
She said Egypt is working towards “mobilising the international community to provide that finance in order to crowd in and catalyse private sector engagements”.
Banks such as HSBC and Citibank are taking part in this week’s meetings, as is Mark Carney, co-chairman of the Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero.
However, the ask for financing is coming at a time of global economic post-Covid-19 woes and with the energy crisis resulting from the war in Ukraine. Dr Al Mashat did not seem concerned.
“The energy situation provides an opportunity. Egypt has a surplus of electricity, we’re exporting gas,” she said.
“Part of the newest programme, the energy pillar within NWFE, is actually increasing also renewable capacity to be able to generate green hydrogen.”
Asked what the challenges are in meeting the needs of climate actions, Dr Al Mashat insisted she is looking at the opportunities.
“The crisis in Europe has shown the importance of food security for all countries, not just a few countries,” she said.
“So when we’re talking about food projects, everybody knows their importance [and they] also provide profit for the private sector.
“So there will be encouragement for private sector engagement in projects, which might not have been the case a few months ago.”
Dr Al Mashat stressed that “this is an African Cop”, and “a united voice from Africa is extremely important” on climate action and in preparation of finance day during Cop27 in November.
The expectation is that a communique will be issued this Friday charting the demands of African countries from Cop27.
“This is a forum where the African ministers are here, so it is like taking a snapshot of what remains on the agenda for Cop27,” she said.
“This is an important point in time.”