Egypt’s Minister of International Cooperation Rania Al-Mashat held a high level meeting with UN agencies working in Egypt, to open a new chapter for cooperation amid the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
The meeting was held in the presence of Richard Dictus, Resident Coordinator of the UN Office in Egypt, as well as directors of 15 UN agencies with a presence in the country.
The high-level meeting was part of the UN’s celebrations for its 75th anniversary, with the Ministry of International Cooperation participating in several international events during the past week.
The meeting was attended by officials from: the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO); the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD); the International Labor Organization (ILO); the World Food Program (WFP); the International Organization for Migration (IOM); UN Women; the World Health Organization (WHO); the UN Population Fund (UNFPA); the UN Development Programme (UNDP); UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF); United Nations Human Settlements Program (UN-Habitat); the UN Office on Drugs and Crime (UNODC); the UN Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO); and the UN Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO).
Reviving spirit of multilateralism
Minister Al-Mashat underscored the strong cooperation efforts between the Egyptian government and the UN during the COVID-19 pandemic. She referred to President Abdel Fattah Al-Sisi’s speech delivered before the UN General Assembly, in which he stressed the need to revive multilateral cooperation to achieve the UN’s 17 sustainable development goals (SDGs).
She also pointed to her visit to Luxor in celebration of the UN’s 75th anniversary, adding that it was an “uplifting experience”.
Minister Al-Mashat said that the visit represented an example of how projects with development partners can be scaled up to achieve impact and inspire other countries in the region.
As part of the minister’s trip to Luxor, she and a high-level delegation visited the Baghdadi village which has become a model for achieving a circular economy. It has done so through providing small farmers with modern agricultural technologies and irrigation, linking small enterprises with export chains, and achieving economic empowerment of women through livestock loans.
To document Egypt’s development stories, the Ministry of International Cooperation launched a film entitled “Beyond Food” in cooperation with the World Food Programme. The film to showcases how partnerships achieve real human impact, and lead to agricultural and rural development in Upper Egypt.
Minister Al-Mashat added that the Ministry of International Cooperation has been work to strengthen economic diplomacy through three principles: regularly organising multi-stakeholder platforms to ensure that all projects between development partners are streamlined and effectively coordinated; adopting a consistent Global Partnerships Narrative based on People&Projects&Purpose (P&P&P); and mapping ODA financing to the UN’s sustainable development goals (SDGs) for all projects with multilateral and bilateral development partners.
Leaving no one behind
Richard Dictus, Resident Coordinator of the UN Office in Egypt, said, “Egypt’s response to the first peak of the COVID-19 pandemic has been amongst the best in Africa and the Middle East.” He noted that this was due to the health, quarantine and lockdown measures taken by the government that proved to be timely.
He added that the UN has been a close partner to the Egyptian Government in efforts to ensure no one was left behind in the COVID-19 response, and that the UN engaged across strategically across medical, economic and social fields.
“Since the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a very strong reach out to coordinate and increase dialogue,” Dictus said, “This was an extraordinary opportunity for substantive and policy dialogue through a new fashion among all development and governmental agencies.”
Mengstab Haile, the WFP’s Representative and Country Director in Egypt, noted that all UN agencies are ‘inspired’ by Egypt’s approach to cooperation during the COVID-19 pandemic. He added that Minister Al-Mashat’s visit to Luxor gave communities in the villages ‘hope and encouragement’.
For her part, Naima Al-Qusayr, the WHO representative in Egypt, noted that Egypt’s response to the pandemic has been ‘far advanced’. She referred to the government’s efforts to conduct rapid testing and identify the most vulnerable groups to provide targeted assistance, as well as its commitment for science and research for a COVID-19 vaccine.
Minister Al-Mashat pointed to her ministry’s vision to strengthen partnerships with various development partners, the private sector and civil society. This would be to ensure that multilateralism is revived amid the COVID-19 pandemic, referring to the years 2020-2021 as the years of multilateralism.
She noted that she is looking forward to further cooperation with the UN as part of the strategic framework of the partnership for 2018-2022, as multilateralism is the only way to rebuild better and achieve sustainable recovery and resilience to future shocks,
The Ministry of International Cooperation supervises the implementation of the Strategic Framework for Partnership with the UN (UNPDF), and chairs the Steering Committee for the framework with the UN Resident Coordinator in Egypt. This focuses on comprehensive economic development, social justice, environmental and natural resource sustainability, and empowering women.