Egypt Launches Phase II of SwitchMed Project (Policy Component)

on 9 May 2023, H.E. Dr. Yasmin Fouad, Egyptian Minister of Environment, launched phase II of SwitchMed Project in Egypt at an exceptional event. The launch was held at Semiramis InterContinental Hotel in Cairo in the presence of the implementing partners: the European Commission represented by Ms. Sylvie Fontaine, Project Officer for Environment & Climate Change; the UNEP remotely represented by Ms. Elisa Tonda, Chief Resources and Markets Branch and Mr. Luc Reuter Programme Officer, Industry & Economy Division, and CEDARE represented by Dr. Hossam Allam, Regional Programme Director for Sustainable Growth and the Waste Management Regulatory Authority (WMRA) represented by its CEO: Dr. Tarek El Araby.

The launching event, which was convened by CEDARE in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment was attended by 80 distinguished participants. They represented multiple stakeholders from the developmental, environmental and industrial circles ranging from relevant ministries, international development organizations, financial institutions, retailers, plastic producers, national research centers, to academia and independent experts.

SwitchMed Project Egypt is executed by the Centre for Environment and Development for the Arab Region and Europe (CEDARE) and the Ministry of Environment in collaboration with UNEP and financed by SwitchMed; the EU-funded Programme. At this stage, SwitchMed II will accelerate the implementation of Sustainable Consumption and Production (SCP), promote Circular Economy and Blue Economy in line with Egypt’s Sustainable Consumption and Production National Action Plan. The main activities will comprise: Supporting the execution of the Waste Management Law No. 202 of 2020 and its executive regulations; Supporting the implementation of the Single Use Plastic Bags (SUPB) strategy and action plan to pave the way for a circular economy approach; Supporting the organization of two National Roundtables of Sustainable Consumption and Production; and supporting the development of the action plan for the National Blue Economy Strategy.

In her opening speech, Dr. Yasmine Fouad stressed the keenness of the Egyptian government to set the applications of the circular economy into force, which is the main path to address the issue of waste. Proper waste management would provide a radical solution to this issue that has preoccupied successive governments.“Egypt is working to create a supportive climate through procedures, regulations and laws to support the idea of ​​limiting the use of plastic bags”, said Dr. Fouad. The Minister of the Environment stressed that the second phase of this Project is based on supporting the concepts of circular economy and blue economy and constitutes one of the most important goals of sustainable development, noting that the waste management law includes provisions that restrict, for the first time, the use of single-use plastic bags, and promote multi-use alternatives.

In her note, Ms. Sylvie Fontaine expressed her optimism as participants include national authorities, research and technology centers, private sectors, financial institutions, civil society and cooperation agencies stating “it is an excellent start! The pooling of different points of view will lead to the creation of win-win concepts that are acceptable to all”.

Ms. Elisa Tonda underlined, via zoom, the importance of “Seeing the opportunities that will emerge in addressing plastic pollution, not only because we are looking towards ending an environmental threat but very much because we are looking at new economic opportunities… and that you have in mind that what we are looking towards is creating a new economy not really destroying an old one”.

In turn, Dr. Hossam Allam stated: “We do believe that SwitchMed Egypt Project is a success story. The upcoming phase is actually a continuation of the fruitful cooperation between the partners implementing the project over the years. SwitchMed I was behind the development of the Sustainable Consumption and Production National Action Plan (SCP-NAP) and the implementation of two significant demonstration projects on Sustainable Public Procurement and reducing consumption of single use plastic bags in the few past years. One day we had a dream to have a law that constitutes sound management of waste predicament in Egypt, now that the dream came true dealing with the reduction of the single-use plastic bags, we take pride that SwitchMed I Project paved the way for the realization of that dream and we are enthusiastic to resume progression towards effective implementation and application”.