Climate Change: What's next for Egypt?

In a year that has seen the force of nature wreak devastation in several parts of the world, including Bangladesh, the Caribbean, and Mexico, the big issue of this generation—climate change—was the topic of a Chevening Talk held by British Embassy Cairo.

The event, which focussed on the greatest environmental challenges facing Egypt at the moment, brought together expert Cheveners in the environment field from diverse backgrounds, including civil servants, UN and World Bank employees, academics, researchers, architects, and businesspeople. It was part of the 'Chevening Discussion Series of Egypt', a series of thematic discussions with alumni to provide a forum where they can openly debate issues, and share their knowledge and expertise in key areas. Chevening Alumnus Saber Osman, Climate Change Adaptation Manager at the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency, co-moderated the discussion.

Prevention or adjustment?

The main argument of the talk revolved around whether Egypt as a nation should prioritise issues of mitigation or adaptation to climate change. Participants argued that one major issue getting in the way of Egyptian action on climate change was a lack of awareness—companies do not follow environmental regulations because they do not understand them. Another issue was the lack of incentives for changing behaviours. Other participants argued that as climate change is not going to be reversed, Egypt is in dire need of adapting to it. However, the challenge of adapting is the hefty costs of investing in the adjustment of existing infrastructure. Could there be low-cost solutions to help with adaptation? This question must be common in many countries around the world.

Making a case for real evidence, to challenge the fake news

The other significant conversation was around the importance of encouraging relevant research and finding ways to encourage the Egyptian government to engage with research. The debate centred around whether there was a lack of research on relevant issues, or that existing research was not communicated to or used by the government.

The UK’s role?

The lively discussion wrapped up with some interesting ideas about what the UK could do to help including:

  1. Raise awareness by lobbying for better coverage of environmental issues in Egyptian education, or by using an Inspire Egypt event to draw attention to environmental issues.
  2. Support rising start-ups in the environment field, potentially through the embassy's £2M start-up fund.
  3. Encourage research on environmental issues via scholarships and help to create a repository of relevant Chevening dissertations.
  4. Continue to facilitate discussions among experts in this area since there was a strong appetite for further interaction.
  5. DIT seeking to encourage UK investment in key areas.
  6. Lobby on environmental issues with Egyptian decision-makers.

The talk left attendees with a huge appetite to discuss other relevant topics like waste management, renewable energy, and water issues in the future.

It was a stimulating session for all with one attendee commenting that 'it was a very interesting event and moreover, it was great to see Cheveners from different years of the same field networking and exchanging contact details.'

To find out more or to attend the next event, contact Nevine Sharaf, Chevening Programme Manager at British Embassy Cairo.