CAIRO, Egypt, March 5, 2015/African Press Organization (APO)/ — A shift to a green economy pathway could lead Egypt to achieve annual savings of over US$1.3 billion in the agriculture sector, and US$1.1 billion in the water sector, as well as a 13 per cent reduction in CO2 emissions, and a 40 per cent reduction in water consumption, according to a new report released today by the Egyptian Government, the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and partners.
Launched at the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN), the Green Economy Scoping Study for Egypt finds that economic and environmental trends such as declining water share per capita of over 30 per cent by 2025, solid waste generation increases of 36 per cent since 2000, and natural resource depletion of around 3.78 per cent annually, can be reduced and reversed through strategic policy interventions that can accelerate Egypt’s sustainable development.
UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director Achim Steiner said, “Challenges such as Egypt’s rapidly growing population – which could reach 100 million by 2020 – coupled with an ecological footprint almost three times its available bio-capacity, according to the Arab Forum for Environment and Development, are opportunities to implement an inclusive green economy strategy that can revitalize and diversify the economy and achieve social equity while also conserving the environment, and improving health and human welfare.”
“Working in favour of a transition is Egypt’s resilient banking sector, its abundance of labour and entrepreneurial skills, a functional public sector, and the Egypt’s determination to fulfil its aspirations for long-term prosperity and human welfare.”
“This report demonstrates that greening key sectors such as water, agriculture, waste and energy is an economically and environmentally astute course of action. The savings alone make a strong case for a new policy approach that can decouple environmental degradation from economic development, create jobs, reduce emissions, attract foreign investment and develop new markets,” he added.
The report, which was prepared by UNEP at the request of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and State Ministry for Environment, presents proposed interventions and investment options, as well as expected benefits and policy approaches for greening Egypt’s agricultural, water, energy and solid waste sectors.
Egyptian Minister of Environment, Dr. Khaled Fahmy, said, “Transitioning into the green economy across diverse sectors offers a clear pathway to achieving durable and equitable sustainable development for Egypt. The convening of the African Ministerial Conference on the Environment in Cairo this week offers an opportunity for African countries to discuss options for such a transformation to happen, not only in Egypt but across the continent. We will need to work together to create opportunities and put in place the necessary policies, mechanisms and interventions to make this happen.”
Green Interventions – Agriculture
The agriculture sector currently only contributes about 14 per cent of GDP – compared to 30 per cent in the 1970s – and as a result of business-as usual practices is marred by loss of agricultural biodiversity, land erosion and loss of soil fertility.
Identified green interventions which can reverse these downward trends include investing in organic farming; changing cropping patterns; and shifting to state of the art irrigation systems. Directing investments to rural areas will also reduce rural to urban migration and the pressure this creates on the physical and social infrastructure and services in urban areas, which contributes to enhancing equity, social cohesion and improved distribution of wealth and opportunities, particularly among the poor and marginalized segments of the Egyptian population.
Green Interventions – Water
Demand for water is increasing at an alarming rate, with water share per capita set to decrease by over 65 per cent by 2050 as population growth, urbanization, and increased agricultural and industrial activities continue to increase pressure on an already scarce resource.
Identified green interventions which can help to reverse this trend include investing in non-conventional water resources development such as desalination and treated wastewater, and the upgrading and expansion of national water use-efficiency.
Green Interventions – Energy
Since 2007, a gap between energy supply and demand has existed, and is expected to continue to increase under the business as usual scenario. Public expenditure on energy subsidies has reached unprecedented levels, representing about 73 per cent of all subsidies and approximately 21 per cent of the country’s budget, according to the African Development Bank.
Identified green interventions which can help reverse this trend include significant investment in renewable energy sources such as solar and wind infrastructure to increase the percentage share of renewable energy out of the total energy mix; investing in energy efficient appliances and equipment by households and economic sectors; and investing in human resource development, R&D in energy-saving technologies, practices and measures.
Green Interventions – Waste
It is estimated that annual solid waste generation has increased by more than 36 per cent since 2000, with an estimated increase of 3.4 per cent per annum, according to SWEET Net. It reached about 21 million tonnes in 2010, nine million tonnes of which is generated by greater Cairo. The current state of solid waste management is resulting in increased environmental damage and negative impacts on health.
Identified green investments which could reverse these trends include investing in waste to organic fertilizers and waste to biofuel facilities; investing in producing refuse-derived fuel for use as an energy source for cement factories and other industrial uses; and investing in human resource development, R&D and innovative recycling technologies and equipment.
• Conversion of 20 per cent of the total agricultural land from conventional to sustainable and organic cultivation amounting to about 1.44 million feddans (605,000 hectares) , could result in a saving of approximately 700, 000 tonnes of chemical fertilizers annually or EGP 1 billion annually.
• The potential of producing compost from agricultural residues could provide more than 22 million tonnes of organic waste annually, or EGP 9 billion annually.
• Reducing the area for cultivated for rice (or using early maturing varieties) and sugar cane could lead to water savings of EGP 4-7 five billion by 2017.
• It is estimated that using drip irrigation could save up to 40 per cent of water as compared to flood irrigation.
• Investing in household water saving devices for domestic use including residential building is estimated to result in water savings between 10 to 20 per cent, or 1.4 billion m3 of water savings annually.
• Other benefits of water efficiency approaches include increased land productivity and yields estimated at between 20 to 30 per cent.
• Efficiency in the use and allocation of water resulting from good governance and regulatory frameworks is estimated to result in 10 per cent savings in water consumption of the equivalent of EGP 6.75 billion annually.
• Investing in renewable energy can be a driver for job creation, with an estimated 75,000 new job opportunities in solar and wind systems design, manufacturing, operational services, and sales.
• Investing in energy efficiency practices such as the installation of efficient lighting equipment could lead to significant energy savings especially that 34 per cent of residential energy consumption is for lighting purposes.
• Energy efficiency measures in Egypt are expected to result in about 30 per cent in energy savings estimated at 33 billion kW based on 2012 estimates of energy consumption in Egypt.
• Reduction in oil consumption by 20 per cent is estimated to cut down CO2 emissions by 18 million tonnes of CO2 annually.
Possible guiding principles for a Green Economy framework for Egypt include:
• Good governance: to ensure transparency, accountability, and public participation throughout policy formulation, implementation, monitoring and assessment.
• Sustainability and continuity: policies should also ensure sustainability from the environmental, social and economic standpoint.
• Integrated policymaking: environmental, social and economic considerations should be integrated throughout the planning process.
• Inter-generational equity: future generations should not bear costs and negative implications of proposed policies.
• Equity and inclusiveness: policies should ensure the equitable distribution of wealth providing equal opportunities for the different segments of the population, and promote social justice and cohesion.
Green Economy Synthesis Report
Also launched today at the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN) is the new Green Economy Africa Synthesis Report which highlights the key findings of agriculture, energy, water, fisheries, buildings, manufacturing, transport and tourism assessments carried out in 10 African countries. The report was developed to help policymakers better understand the diverse benefits of investing in the green economy.
United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP)