Putting Water on the Agenda at Egypt’s COP27

    EnvironmentClimate changePutting Water on the Agenda at Egypt’s COP27
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    Putting Water on the Agenda at Egypt’s COP27

    Water looks set to be the key theme at COP27 as host country Egypt, ‘motivated to push for action’ plans to launch a water adaptation initiative at the UN climate summit, on issues such as climate finance.

    By Rehab Abd Almohsen

    In a packed room in Stockholm, delegates at World Water Week turned their attention to another major event on the horizon where water issues in the global South will loom large.

    “I’m coming from Egypt, and one of the most beautiful cities in Egypt, Alexandria, is threatened to be demolished because of the high level of the Mediterranean Sea,” said Sherif Eissa, assistant minister at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in Egypt, the country that will be hosting the UN climate summit, COP27 in November.

    Sweden’s Crown Princess Victoria, sat on the front row, was among those attending the high-level panel discussion, which sought to look at how the momentum from other UN agendas could be harnessed ahead of a key UN water conference next year.

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    Eissa announced some of the initiatives that will be launched during COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh (6 to 18 November), a conference which would place special emphasis on Africa, he said.

    “What does Egypt have for the COP27?” he asked. “We have [an] initiative called AWARE, Action for Water Adaptation and Resilience. It will work in Africa especially in order to enhance exchange of information, capacity building and investment in water adaptation and water projects.”

    Invoice of climate change

    According to the UN’s Climate Action website, the AWARE initiative will look at how to reduce water losses, improve water-related policies and cooperation, and promote links between water and climate actions. And it will be starting with the world`s most vulnerable communities and ecosystems, in the African region, as a first step.

    In a separate initiative, Egypt is also focusing on the links between climate and conflict ahead of COP27, according to Eissa. “Egypt is preparing a concept paper with stakeholders from different parts of the world, in order to secure and to develop our peace-building capacities and abilities in order to face the climate challenges,” he said.

    Hani Sewilam, Egypt’s minister of water resources and irrigation, also highlighted the link between water and climate change, citing an example from his country.

    “In Egypt, we pay the invoice of climate change twice,” he said. “Ninety-seven per cent of our water resources [are] coming from the Nile River which means any climate change happening in the upper Nile on the source of the Nile, it affects us.”

    Sewilam stressed that Egypt is motivated to push for action at the UN climate summit. “We want to go for implementation and have clear actions, clear indicators and time plan to reach specific milestones.”

    He went on to outline three key issues he said Egypt wants to address at COP27: reduction of carbon emissions, scaling up adaptation efforts, and enhanced flows of appropriate finance.

    Water action decade

    This year is important to Egypt, says Eissa. He added: “COP27 is part of a long road, we have a continuous process of work that we need to take in order.”

    The number of attendees at this year’s COP will likely exceed that of COP26, held in Scotland last November, according to Eissa. “In Glasgow we [had] over 30,000 participants. I think Sharm El-Sheikh will be exceeding this number,” he told delegates to whom he extended an invitation to attend.

    COP27 attendance and the high cost of accommodation was a subject that came up in conversations in the corridors of World Water Week. As an Egyptian myself, I received a lot of questions related to finding an affordable hotel and whether participants from the global South will be able to attend.

    Eissa highlighted how preparation for the two big events, COP27 and the UN 2023 Water Conference, are done in coordination. “We will revise where we stand and what action plans we need in order to reach agenda 2030 successfully to keep and preserve this planet for the coming generations,” he added.

    The UN 2023 Water Conference will be held at the UN headquarters in New York, from 22 to 24 March next year. The event, the first of its kind since 1977, will focus on five themes proposed by Tajikistan and the Netherlands: water for health; water for development; water for climate, resilience and environment; water for cooperation, and the UN’s Water Action Decade.

    Eissa also talked about some of the informal activities related to water that will take place during COP27. Water Day will be one of the event’s thematic days, while Adaptation Day will also address water issues. Meanwhile, the Water Pavilion is billed as an innovative space where  governments and non-state actors can meet to drive forward urgent action to stop the depletion of freshwater resources and pursue a sustainable and resilient net-zero future.


    This piece has been sourced from SciDev.Net.

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