climate change: challenges and opportunities (part ii)

01 February 2022

Climate change: Challenges and Opportunities (Part II)

The Kemet Boutros-Ghali Foundation for Peace and Knowledge (KBG) held its second webinar of the series entitled "Climate change: Challenges and Opportunities." Many experts exposed their views on the environment, climate change, and related topics. The dialogue was moderated by Ambassador Raouf Saad, a member of the Foundation's Board of Trustees. Among the questions raised were problems resulting from climate changes at the health, economic, food security, and migration levels, especially what has become known as an environmental asylum.

 

Mr. Mamdouh Abbas, Chairman of KBG, noted that while the problems of thermal emissions and wasteful consumption of the Earth's resources were due to rich nations' policies and consumption patterns, developing countries would be the ones to suffer most from the consequences of climate change.

Mr. Abbas called for attention to be paid to the World Bank's announcement that the number of refugees due to climate change could reach about 216 million in less than 30 years. This statement was corroborated by Dr. Ayman Zahari, an expert on population and migration studies. He confirmed that this figure is the size of a country like Brazil; he also indicated that in Egypt, no less than 1.5 million people would be displaced from the north of the delta due to climatic changes.

 

Dr. Moataz Khurshid, former Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, stressed the need and importance of looking for new and innovative ways to deal with climate change. He noted that the situation now needs more than traditional solutions, hence the importance of "community innovation" supported by the private sector. He also stressed the need to develop performance appraisal indicators, especially since Egypt is now in an average position according to those indicators, and the necessity to improve this situation.

 

In the same vein, Dr. Lamia Mohsen, Dean of the Faculty of Medicine of the University of New Giza, emphasized linking university and academic institutions to current efforts to mitigate climate change. She also highlighted the importance of integrating the results of climate studies into educational curricula, which she has already done in New Giza. She hosted the launch of the report "Countdown to Health and Climate Change: the red signal, "which is one of the most critical international reports in this area.

 

Participants in the webinar also referred to the health and food security problems caused by climate change, particularly the rise in temperatures. Dr. Maha Rabat, former Minister of Health and Population, noted that the World Health Organization (WHO) expects 250,000 deaths between 2030and 2050 due to epidemics, diseases, and heat exhaustion. This calls for greater action and solidarity among all those concerned with the health of the world's citizens, as the consequences of climate change transcend borders and regions.

 

Dr. Ayman Abou Hadid, former Minister of Agriculture, stressed that climatic changes and rising temperatures would affect the composition of crops and increase soil salinity. This means a threat to food security and the loss of a large number of agricultural workers' jobs, thus moving them far from the coasts that will become threatened by rising sea levels. Abou Hadid pointed to the need to protect the North Delta area by building some construction to preserve the land, especially since the height expected to date is not more than one meter. He also suggested that all reclaimed land should be dealt with under a plan for agriculture and industrialization and that the genetic engineering of crops and modern irrigation methods should be reviewed. "Egypt has developed a strategy for sustainable agricultural development since 2009, and much has been added to Egypt's 2030 strategy," he said.

 

For her part, WHO expert Dr. Samar El-Feki reviewed the WHO's regional and international initiative called "Healthy Cities." Those cities, which now add up to some 114, were planned so that all their institutions, not just the health sector, improve living conditions and create a healthy environment supportive of the entire population. The objectives are then measured through 80 indicators used by the WHO to assess the performance of cities, particularly in dealing with climatic phenomena.

 

As Egypt is hosting the COP 27 on climate change this year, Ambassador Gamal Gaballah, Director of the Department of Environment of the League of Arab States, stressed the need for unified action to hold developed countries accountable toward developing countries that are most affected by climate change. He also referred to the need for solidarity among developing countries to find solutions to negotiating differences with rich countries. Ambassador Gaballah noted that the Arab League had a Richter model for measuring climate change and its impact on water resources until 2050.

 

Dr. Laila Iskander, former Minister of Environment and Urban Development, also stressed the importance of the agreement on methane gas at the COP 26 held in Glasgow, Britain. This gas is more dangerous than carbon dioxide. Still, the opportunity to mitigate its effects seems better, which is an excellent opportunity to obtain the support of developed countries, especially since negotiations will not enter into a crisis with petroleum workers, "which is highlighted by the signing of some 90 States on the need to mitigate the impact of this gas." she adds.

 

Mr. Mamdouh Abbas concluded with the necessity to continue this dialogue with scientists, specialists, and stakeholders to develop an integrated plan contributing to Egypt's direction at the forthcoming Conference of the Parties to be held in Sharm el-Sheikh.