Egypt’s Sustainable Cities as National Parallels aligning to Global Action to Climate Change

On September 13th, 2022, the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) in partnership with Friedrich Ebert Foundation (FES) Egypt Office organized a technical session on National Parallels: Egypt’s Sustainable Cities Global Ambitions and Aligning Local Action as part of the Environment and Development Forum (EDF2022) held in CityStars InterContinental Hotel in Cairo. Convened in collaboration with UN-HABITAT, the session discussed “national parallels” that localize climate action and policy development in Egypt and in its cities and explored opportunities for development as well as visions for the next decade.

Such discussions came with the backdrop of the recently developed Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs), National Strategy for Climate Change (NSCC2050), a global initiative for sustainable cities being launched in the lineup of COP27 events, and a wide range of climate interventions. In parallel to the grand ambitions, this seminar revolved around a central theme of social inclusion and the implications for local actors and the general population in Egypt and its cities. Fostering more partnerships and expanding high-impact projects were also explored.

The session was moderated by Mr. Waleed Mansour, Programme Manager, Climate and Energy, FES Egypt who hosted the renowned panelists. Prof. Dr. Rifaat Abdelwahaab, Professor of Water & Wastewater Management, National Research Center & Head of Research & Development (R & D) Sector, Holding Company for Water & Wastewater (HCWW) gave a valuable presentation titled: Social Inclusion: River Basin Filtration Systems (RBF) in Egypt “Leaving no one behind”. From a philanthropic prospect, Dr. Wessam El-Beih, Drosos Foundation Regional Director, Egypt, Jordan & Lebanon, by showcasing success stories and developmental initiatives in Egypt, underlined how social and environmental impact can be maximized. Eng. Nour El Deeb, Transportation Programme Manager, Institute for Transport and Development Policy (ITDP) focused in her presentation on how mobility could be people-centered and shed light on the National Strategy for Non-Motorized Transport and different forms of micromobility.

“This session comes in the framework of the long-lasting cooperation between CEDARE and FES on climate justice, sustainable transportation, sustainable urban planning as part of the solutions ahead of the upcoming COP27. This cooperation resulted in a vast number of studies, policy briefs, and recommendations which paved the way for policies and strategies currently adopted”. Said Dr. Hossam Allam, CEDARE’s Sustainable Growth Programme Director.

Mr. Waleed Mansour, Climate and Energy Program Manager, FES stressed the importance of the involving local communities in building sustainable cities including transportation, water and waste water, renewable energy, waste management. Social inclusion of all segments should be fostered, each and every one should support in a way or another, either as a donor, a volunteer, …etc. Constant communication and collaboration with governmental entities is also required along with dealing with difficulties with patience and perseverance. “We all have high hopes for the upcoming COP27 which will be a golden chance for sharing lessons learned and experience exchange among countries worldwide”. Added Mr. Mansour.

Dr. Ahmed El Dorghamy, Basic Services and Climate Change Programme Officer, UN-Habitat Egypt said: “In the race to resilience, stakeholders should look at any global action in the battle against climate change with a local perspective, and it’s absolutely important they regularly align national parallels to global initiatives”.

The fruitful discussions and presentations resulted in the following recommendations:
• To integrate sustainability in the messaging of transport and support people ownership feeling of projects.
• To focus on micromobility as walking, cycling, non-motorized transport instead of vehicles in the new urban agenda.
• The importance of applying the “River Bank Filtration – RBF” technology to fill the gap for water access and increase resilience. The RBF technology overcomes problems related to the surface water treatment in Egypt such as low flow seasons, increasing pollution loads and other problems.
• The importance of establishing goals for the non-motorized transport policy facility implementation and track progress over time.
• To allocate specific budget for walking and cycling projects.
• The importance of disseminating design standards for non-motorized transport.
• To integrate master planning process with the non-motorized transport facility planning.
• The importance of having synergies and multi-collaboration between the different stakeholders and within all the sectors. The way towards sustainable cities is long and requires patience.
• Commitment from the government to have sustainable plans for non-motorized transport.
• The Development Banks should provide sustainable funding mechanisms to tackle the non-motorized transports.
• To focus on communication and community integration, for real effect of implemented projects and enhancing their sustainability & efficiency in addition to having strong regulations on the ground.

Mr. Richard Probst, FES Egypt Country Manager together with Dr. Hossam Allam were rejoiced by warmly welcoming H.E. Dr. Mariam AlSadek AlMahdy, Sudan’s Former Foreign Affairs Minister, who attended the session. Convened by the Arab Water Council, the EDF under the theme of “The Road to Sharm El Sheikh Climate Change COP27”, was held under the auspices of H.E. Sameh Shoukry, Minster of Foreign Affairs and H.E. Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment.