Egypt’s green growth strategy has come a long way since its early days, with plans by the government to increase the percentage of projects that will be implemented according to environmental sustainability and green economy concepts from 30% to 100% in the next few years.
This ambitious strategy is supported by Egypt’s twin-track approach in achieving green growth through national and international-level actions, Minister of International Cooperation, H.E. Dr. Rania Al Mashat, stated during her participation in the British Egyptian Business Association’s four-day virtual Egypt Week event in the session, ‘Shifting Mindsets Through Economic Diplomacy’. The session included the participation of Jürgen Rigterink, EBRD’s First Vice President, Erik Berglof, AIIB Chief Economist, and Lutfey Siddiqi, a Visiting Professor in Practice at London School of Economics. The four-day virtual Egypt Week event aims to shed light on Egypt’s strategic role in various regional and international trade agreements, investment and development financing opportunities, and the road to a greener and inclusive recovery and commitment to accelerate progress towards the Sustainable Development Goals. A TWIN-TRACK APPROACH – PUBLIC-PRIVATE DIALOGUE Striking a balance between expanding economic opportunities and addressing environmental pressures, Al-Mashat highlighted that Egypt works on solving environmental, social, and economic issues simultaneously, following a systematic twin-track approach to ensure that ‘green’ and ‘growth’ go together hand-in-hand. This twin-track approach integrates green growth in Egypt’s national development plans through national and international-level actions, Al-Mashat added, as international cooperation provides essential support through green financing and promoting technological transfer and co-operation. The Ministry of International Cooperation ensures that all international agreements are coordinated and closely aligned with the 12 Sustainable Development Goals and environmental, social, and corporate (ESG) criteria. It achieves this through the principles of economic diplomacy, which include: regularly organizing multi-stakeholder platforms to ensure that all projects between development partners are streamlined and effectively coordinated to accelerate the pace of development for the achievement of UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs); adopting a consistent Global Partnerships Narrative People&Projects&Purpose (P&P&P); and mapping ODA financing to SDGs for all projects with multilateral and bilateral development partners. Supporting engagement of the private sector through development cooperation, Al-Mashat added that on average, Egypt’s quality of public-private dialogue has improved by 22% from 2016 to 2018, which helped it to attract green development financing opportunities and achieve green growth. Currently, there are more than 1,000 companies and nearly two million Egyptian workers working on national mega projects, which includes the example of the world’s largest solar array at the Benban Solar Park in Aswan, which employs more than 4,000 people is part of the Egyptian government’s Sustainable Energy Strategy 2035 that aims to produce 20% of electricity from renewable sources by 2022. PARTNERSHIPS FOR THE GOALS Jürgen Rigterink, EBRD First Vice President and Head of Client Services Group, highlighted that the cooperation between the private sector and the government has been mutually supportive in realizing meaningful change. Since the beginning of its operation, the bank has invested over €6.5 billion in 116 projects in Egypt that cover all sectors of the economy, from infrastructure to manufacturing and services, and from agribusiness to banking and capital markets. Multilateralism provides an opportunity to push for financing in green cities, Rigterink added, noting the example of Alexandria and Cairo, which have joined the EBRD’s Green Cities initiative to complete the green transportation strategy for the city. Erik Berglof, AIIB Chief Economist, stated that the Asian Infrastructure Investment Bank (AIIB) is currently seeking to establish more investment projects in Egypt, and views it as one of the most important investment markets in the Middle East and Africa. He added that there are opportunities for development financing in green cities and green construction to embrace new approaches to urban life and explore new ways of living in cities; ways to reconnect with nature and also prioritize the health and well-being of our citizens.