Egypt’s Ministry of Planning and Economic Development has recently held an online meeting to discuss mechanisms to support the transformation of the private sector into a green economy.
The meeting took place in the presence of:Jamil Helmy, Assistant Minister of Planning for Follow-up to the Implementation of Sustainable Development Goals; Karim Morsi, Advisor to the Minister of Environment for the private sector; Sherif Daoud, Deputy Director of the Sustainable Development Unit at the Ministry of Planning; and representatives from the Federation of Egyptian Industries (FEI), the Egyptian Businessmen Association (EBA), Egyptian Junior Businessmen Association (EJB), and the Businessmen Associations in Alexandria and Assiut.
During the meeting, Helmy noted the government’s keenness to follow the participatory approach in planning.
He said that the triangle of success is represented in the government sector, the private sector, and civil society.
Helmy also said that Egypt’s Vision 2030 includes making the environmental dimension the main focus in all development sectors, in a way that achieves the security of natural resources. This also supports their fair use and optimal exploitation and investment in them, in a manner that guarantees the rights of future generations.
It also diversifies production sources and economic activities, and contributes to supporting competitiveness. At the same time, it provides new job opportunities, alleviates poverty, and achieves social justice while providing a clean, healthy, and safe environment for Egyptians.
Helmy reviewed the foundations of environmental trends at the national level, including the mandates of the political leadership to focus on the green economy. This takes into account all environmental dimensions in development projects and the Egyptian Constitution, where Article 32 stipulates the preservation of natural resources and respect for the rights of future generations.
It also takes into account the fifth goal of the National Agenda for Sustainable Development under Egypt’s Vision 2030, which stipulates for “an integrated and sustainable environmental system”.
There is also Environment Law No 4 of 1994, and Article 11 of the Investment Law No 72 of 2017, which regulates contracts concluded by public authorities No 182 of 2018.
Helmy said that the transition to a green economy is represented in enhancing economic growth opportunities and diversifying production sources, as well as a growth in job opportunities.
It is also represented in: increasing the competitiveness of local products, rational management of environmental systems, and natural resources; creating new investment areas; enhancing the state’s ability to achieve water and food security; as well as protecting the health of citizens, especially in light of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.
Helmy said that the state is working to increase the volume of investments directed to government projects that include an environmental dimension. This contributes to promoting the achievement of sustainable development goals (SDGs) related to the environment, as well as directing ministries towards priority projects that take into account the environmental dimension.
At the same time, this also promotes achieving environmental sustainability in government projects.
This aims to improve Egypt’s competitiveness in the environmental performance index by increasing the percentage of green public investments out of total public investments from 15% in 20/2021 to 30% in 21/2022 and up to 50% in 25/24.
Helmy highlighted the importance of the Environmental Sustainability Standards Guide, which is a practical and applied tool to achieve the goals of Egypt’s Vision 2030.
This relates to integrating the environmental dimension into the planning system, and contributes to accelerating progress in achieving the indicators of the United Nations (UN) SDGs and all relevant international commitments.
This is in addition to incorporating environmental sustainability considerations into project financing criteria, whilst setting a roadmap for the gradual exit of technologies that deplete natural resources.
Helmy said that the criteria for defining green projects are considered: projects that have a positive impact on the environment; ensure the preservation of natural resources and biodiversity; reduce pollution; and result in raising the efficiency of public spending and increasing its development return.
As a result, green projects can achieve important results and effects, including reducing waste and wastage in agricultural production, conserving water consumption, and optimal use of wastewater. This is in a manner that takes into account public health, in addition to encouraging dependence on smart and sustainable transportation.
Helmy reviewed the most important green projects in the plan for fiscal year (FY) 2022/21, as the plan aims to direct investments to green environmental projects through solid waste system initiatives.
It includes the expansion of the metro and electrified train networks, and wind and solar energy projects. The value of investments in the plan is about EGP 96bn, of which EGP 1bn for smart transportation projects, EGP 1.9bn for renewable energy projects.
Helmy referred to environmental sustainability practices in the private sector, including: waste management, such as separation and recycling; paperless transformation; and remote work; assessing the extent to which suppliers adhere to environmental sustainability standards; reducing carbon footprint; reducing plastic consumption; using LED lighting lamps; investing in fields Green clean energy; relying on renewable energy sources for energy consumption.
He addressed the efforts exerted to integrate the private sector into the green economy, as the Ministry of Planning signed a cooperation protocol with the company ECOnsult. This intends to achieve sustainable development in villages and rural communities, in the form of “The Guide to Sustainable Rural Gatherings”.
The agreements come in addition to a cooperation protocol signed with the Alexandria Businessmen Association to create an environment that encourages the private sector on green transformation and investment in more sustainable areas. This is in addition to the Ministry of Planning and Economic Development’s coordination with Lafarge to encourage green construction.
Helmy referred to the green recovery in the structural reforms programme. In the industrial sector, the programme aims to raise investment rates in the manufacturing sector in a sustainable manner, and increase its share of the domestic product.
This will take place by increasing the efficiency and flexibility of energy use in industrial facilities and the production process, following international standards. It will occur through the expansion of grants, the Certification of the International Standards for Energy Efficiency (ISO 50001), and obliging factories and industrial sectors with heavy consumption.
As for the agricultural sector, the programme includes achieving and sustaining food and water security by improving Egypt’s ranking on the Global Food Security Index from 60 to 50, out of 113 countries.
The improvement will occur by giving priority to the cultivation of high-yielding, water-scarce, and short-lived agricultural crop varieties, according to water-saving methods, and implementing regulatory procedures for water-intensive crops.
The meeting dealt with presenting the opportunities offered by the green economy to the private sector and the challenges that the green economy poses to the private sector. This includes the most important green incentives that this sector needs to transform into a green economy, whilst presenting the experiences of the attendees from representatives of private-sector institutions on the green economy.