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Egypt discusses water sustainability as driver for growth with EU, EIB

Egypt discusses water sustainability as driver for growth with EU, EIB
Minister of International Cooperation, Rania El-Mashat

Cairo – Mubasher: Green transition is urgent for both Europe and Africa with cooperation to achieve the ambitious goals of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and the Paris Agreement.

Developing and supporting green and sustainable business models should be the common goal so as to create jobs, generate wealth and yield benefits to our planet, according to a statement by Egypt’s Ministry of International Cooperation.

Minister Rania El-Mashat took part in the European Union’s green transition dialogue at the virtually held “Green Talks Webinar: Water Sustainability and Clean Oceans” on April 5.

The webinar, organized by the European Union led by the Portuguese Presidency, and the European Investment Bank (EIB), is part of the “EU - Africa 30 days of Dialogue on Green Transition” that commenced on March 24 and will be concluded on April 23, with the inaugural of the event “High-level EU-Africa Green Investment Forum.”

The discussion aims to strengthen the conversation on the global green recovery agenda. Alongside El-Mashat as a keynote speaker in the panel on “The Green Transition in Egypt: An Overview of Egypt’s Green Reform Plans”, the event was moderated by the Portuguese Ambassador to Cairo, Manuela Franco; and attended by the Minister of Maritime Affairs of Portugal, Serrao Santos, who also gave the closing remarks.

The panelists included the EU Ambassador to Egypt, Christian Berger; Deputy Minister of Housing, Utilities and Urban Communities of Egypt, Sayed Ismail; Head of the EIB Regional Office, Alfredo Abad; Professor of Chemical Engineering at Cairo University and Chairman of Chemonics Egypt, Ahmed Gaber; and the Corporate Social Responsibility Manager at Nestlé Waters, Radwa Amer.

Water replenishes our people, transports our trade, and is key to any industry. It is the foundation of all development growth and economic stability. Through our international partnerships for sustainable development, Egypt is dedicated to support green growth and responsible consumption of all natural resources with the Ministry of International Cooperation allocating more than 19.4% of its development financing to SDG 6: Clean Water and Sanitation,” said El-Mashat.

El-Mashat elaborated that the Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation has adopted a four-way strategy to mitigate water scarcity and bridge the water gap for its people through the Egypt 2050 Strategy for Water Sustainable Use and Consumption. The strategy outlines several tactics to preserve Egypt’s water resource; by improving the quality of water, developing new water resources, rationalizing consumption, and  enabling an environment for sustainable development.

In line with Egypt’s 2030 national agenda, and with the UN Sustainable Development Goals, reforming the water sector is key to achieving green growth, and improving livelihoods. “It is through discussions like these, that open doors to the realization of action plans that lead to impact, ensuring that natural resources like water are available in abundance for generations to come,” said the minister.

Within the development portfolio of the Ministry of International Cooperation, there are more than 43 projects allocated to clean water and Sanitation, with a variety of projects such as the wastewater treatment and management plants, water desalination plants, and sustainable irrigation projects.

Climate change is upon us. It is a huge challenge. If we are to build sustainable economies and prosperous societies, in Europe or in Africa, we must heed the urgency of the Green Transition. We need a clear understanding that we face the same problems, even though the approaches have been shaped differently by the history and the culture of each nation. Different approaches, yet always aimed at the same objective: to provide water for all uses, in a sustainable manner, equitable and socially just, at a suitable price. This is why Portugal , currently in the presidency of the EU Council of Ministers, and the EIB, decided together to highlight  the theme of  Green Investment  within the EU-Africa dialogue.  The Cairo Green Talk will focus on Water sustainability and Clean Oceans, issues that are absolutely central to development and environmental sustainability,” said the Portuguese Ambassador to Cairo, Manuela Franco.

Ambassador of the European Union (EU) to Egypt, Christian Berger, underlined the importance of the benefits of strong international cooperation extending well beyond the water sector. “We need to work together to face the shared challenges of water resource management and ensure these are effectively addressed.  We are working together with our Egyptian partners to this end. Today’s event is a cornerstone to remind ourselves that sustainable management of water resources, at both local and regional levels, requires global action. The benefits of strong international cooperation will extend well beyond the water sector. Everyone will have to play a part to enhance safe, secure, resilient, ecologically sustainable and inclusive access to water and sanitation, as this is a shared responsibility while offering an opportunity for our economies and societies,” he noted.

Egypt is a gift of the Nile,” said Berger. This was a line first said by the Ancient Greek historian Herodotus. “In our cooperation with Egypt, we have chosen water as a key area for development”, he added.

Egypt and EIB share a development cooperation portfolio worth $2.48 billion focusing on sustainability-led projects in energy, pollution combat, water management, and transportation. “The European Investment Bank is the climate bank of the European Union. The bank supports high-impact investment across Africa and around the world. The objective of Cairo Green Talk is to foster a mutually beneficial exchange of views and lessons from successful sustainable investment experiences with partners. Water sector is an important area of EIB investment where the Bank has been investing heavily,” said Head of the EIB Regional Office, Alfredo Abad.

An example of the cooperation portfolio is the Kitchener Drain Quality Improvement project; as one of Egypt’s prominent water depollution and wastewater management plants. The project showcases the magnitude and importance of water sustainability projects affecting the livelihoods of the people, directly. The drain spreads across several cities in the Delta area; cutting through 182 villages; and supporting more than 11 million people.