Egypt: Acting Against Climate Change for A Healthier, More Prosperous Future

A country like Egypt, with desert and delta, low rainfall, hot summers, huge cities , a long coastline, and one main river, is highly vulnerable to climate change. The uncertainty of water availability increases dramatically with climate change. Egypt needs to be ready for this new normal. And it needs to start preparing now.  

Climate change is not only about managing risks but also about capturing new opportunities – and catalyzing the private sector to engage broadly. Markets around the world are changing quickly, favoring lower carbon goods and moving towards greener and more resilient development paths. Enabling the transition toward a low carbon climate-resilient economy will require actions to support an increased role of the private sector. The private sector has an important role to play – as a financier, innovator, and provider of climate friendly goods and services. 

Egypt is showing commitment to the climate agenda as it’s finalizing the National Climate Change Strategy to support its 2030 SDG development agenda. And it is also preparing to host the COP27—the 27th Session of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of the Parties.  

The World Bank is supporting Egypt on projects that improve the lives of people, while ensuring that resilience to climate change is strengthened and emissions reduced. 

Egypt pioneered the first sovereign green bond in the Middle East and North Africa  — worth  US$750 million— tapping investors interested in financial and environmental returns. Its first impact report shows 46% of proceeds earmarked for clean transport (the Cairo monorail), and 54% for sustainable water supplies and wastewater management. The World Bank, a pioneer of green bonds, advised the Ministry of Finance and line ministries. Green bonds help finance climate action and are widely used by public and private sector issuers. 

The Bank’s flagship interventions in Egypt revolve around traffic and clean air. The US$200 million Greater Cairo Air Pollution Management and Climate Change Project aims to clean up the air that city residents breathe. The project seeks to reduce emissions, including greenhouse gases emitted when solid waste is burned in the open air or due to the combustion of fossil fuels in vehicle engines, releasing particle pollution. The project is building an integrated solid waste management facility and will close and rehabilitate an old dumpsite. It is also piloting an intervention to introduce electric buses in the public transport fleet of Cairo. The project will also support the monitoring of climate pollutants, so that Egypt can set concrete quantitative targets for greenhouse gas reductions and develop an integrated climate and air quality management plan.  

The recently completed US$8.1 million Sustainable Persistent Organic Pollutants Management Project safely disposed of 1,090 tons of highly hazardous obsolete pesticides in Egypt, as well as 1,000 tons of polychlorinated biphenyls from transformers. Removing the pesticides from the governorate of Suez and elsewhere ended the risk they posed to the health of about 383,000 people. The project built Egypt’s capacity to manage hazardous chemicals, emphasized monitoring and tracking systems, and provides a model for other countries in the region. 

The Government of Egypt and the World Bank are also advancing operational opportunities for action in support of both climate and inclusive development. 

The Railway Improvement and Safety for Egypt Project is enhancing the safety and service quality of the Alexandria-Cairo-Nag Hammadi railway passenger corridor. The project will also contribute to climate change mitigation and adaptation for rural and underserved people, with a shift to better, more affordable, and greener public transport. It will modernize signaling along the Alexandria-Cairo-Nag Hammadi corridor and help improve safety at selected stations using a safe systems approach, including gender, citizen engagement, and disability considerations. An estimated 1.4 million daily users of the railways will benefit from safer, more reliable service. Investing in the low-carbon mode of transport supports Egypt’s goals for mitigation and adaptation to climate change. 

The Upper Egypt Local Development Program in southern Egypt contains policies to boost municipal solid waste management, conduct climate risk assessments, and develop local climate action plans to address risks and mitigate people’s exposure to them and the local economy’s exposure. The program is currently being implemented in Qena, Assuit, Sohag, and Minya, and it may expand throughout the whole Upper Egypt region. Increasing climate action at the subnational level will be critical to the success of Egypt’s overall climate endevours. The “Hayat Kareema” national development initiative provides an incredible opportunity for progress on subnational climate efforts. 

There are also opportunities for increased climate action at the residential level. An Inclusive Housing Finance Program  supports basic green initiatives through the Green Pyramid Rating System (GPRS) certification. The GPRS involves examining site selection, designs, sustainable materials, and plumbing and power-saving tools. It is on track to see 25,000 social housing units certified across Egypt by December 2024, a big addition to the country’s existing GPRS housing stock. It aims for thermal insulation and natural ventilation, adaptation to heat waves, gray water reuse, and aerators in taps, an adaptation measure for houses with less access to fresh water. The program should help train more experts in GPRS design, auditing, and certification and thus have a longer-term effect.  

The Bank is also supporting the government with analytics to inform the discussion and decision making on climate- and to help identify priorities that can help Egypt achieve its development goals while strengthening its resilience to climate shocks. The Bank’s Country Climate and Development Report explores how best the country can reconcile its ambitions and structural challenges with the urgent need for stronger action in response to the risks and impacts of climate change. This report provides a series of policy options and investment opportunities for the next five years, with a combination of “starting now”short term benefits and longer term benefits in selected sectors. It also looks at opportunities to manage risk, reduce inefficiencies, and strengthen the foundation for increased private sector participation, with the ultimate objective of achieving climate-friendly development goals.  

With these programs and analytics in place, we look forward to working with Egypt on the road to COP27 and beyond to support the achievement of positive outcomes, and to tap the many opportunities going forward, including for private sector players. COP27 in Sharm El Sheikh will be an excellent opportunity for Egypt to keep climate at the top of the global agenda, which we believe is integral for the well-being of citizens and economies and the future of our planet.  

World Bank

Marina Wes
Marina Wes
Country Director for Egypt, Yemen and Djibouti