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H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat Participates in High-level Session as Part of the Development Cooperation Forum Organized by the ECOSOC

H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat: “The COVID-19 pandemic has created a radical change in the concepts of development cooperation, and it has pushed the world to rearrange its priorities.”

The Minister of International Cooperation H.E. Dr. Rania A. Al-Mashat participated in a high-level session that is part of the 2021 Development Cooperation Forum, organized by the United Nations Economic and Social Council (ECOSOC), on the role of development cooperation in facing the risks posed by the COVID-19 pandemic. The event included many high-ranking officials from around the world, including representatives from the United Nations and international community. During the event, Al-Mashat expressed that the world has witnessed an unprecedented health crisis that began in early 2020 with the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic. This has led to severe economic and social repercussions that in turn, brought about radical change in the concept of development cooperation and development plans. As it brought opportunities, the situation also emphasized the urgency in enhancing progress towards achieving the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The Minister added that the repercussions caused by the pandemic are a global call for change and re-prioritization, as effective development cooperation is more important than ever before in order to be able to address the new challenges that came with the health crisis. The pandemic has also prompted decision-makers and officials around the world to review the traditional way of making decisions, and today, the decision-making process is more aware of the potential risks and has thus taken in new dimensions of thinking. How Did Egypt Maneuver through the Global Challenge? Al-Mashat discussed the steps that the Government of Egypt has taken to address the pandemic’s challenges, as the country took a set of health and preventive measures to slow the spread of the virus, while providing the necessary health care, raising community awareness, and mitigating economic and social repercussions. The Minister added that in recent years, the country adopted an economic and social reform program that strengthened Egypt’s resilience during the pandemic. These reforms also represented a strong basis for structural reforms that were recently announced by the Government of Egypt. The reforms include a multi-sectoral approach through a set of measures and procedures that can face the new challenges created by the pandemic, while ensuring resilience, sustainability, and proactive risk management. Al-Mashat stressed that Egypt is determined to move forward with development and reform plans despite the pandemic. She stated that the structural reform program is in its second phase and is based on a vision that is centered around three sectors contributing to progress in development; technology-intensive manufacturing industries, agriculture, and communications and information technology. Al-Mashat elaborated that one of the opportunities that came about during the pandemic is the accelerated pace of the digital transformation; the spread of technology has aided in building back a better, and greener future. The Minister indicated that the Government of Egypt, in cooperation with the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) and the International Fund For Agricultural Development (IFAD), is studying the impact of the pandemic on the agriculture and food security sector so as to assess potential risks. Al-Mashat said that the Ministry of International Cooperation has redesigned effective development cooperation maps to push efforts towards achieving the SDGs, by matching ongoing projects with the 17 UN goals, so that multilateral and bilateral partners are able to track projects that have been implemented, and to identity funding gaps. With regards to private sector participation, Al-Mashat emphasized that Egypt not only values the important role they play in terms of financial resources but also through the exchange of knowledge, capacity building, and increase in opportunities. In 2020, the Ministry secured $3.2 billion development financing allocated to private sector companies and directed to SMEs in form of credit lines through commercial banks. The Ministry of International Cooperation held its first private sector focused multi-stakeholder platform (MSP) on April 26, where relevant entities were brought together to discuss the importance of digital transformation in pushing towards the country’s development agenda. The MSP promoted the principles of an inclusive economic and social system by upholding the Environmental, Social and Governance (ESG) principles. Al-Mashat called for the redesign of development programs to encourage blended finance and attract direct investments. Striving for sustainable development, Egypt issued its first green bonds sovereign offering worth $750 million by the end of 2020. Moreover, the country has pioneered in the renewable energy sector with its flagship project Benban Solar Park; that employs over 4,000 people. As one of the largest solar energy installations in the world with investments worth over $2 billion, and in cooperation with 32 companies across 12 countries, Benban Solar Park reflects Egypt’s commitment to clean and sustainable energy, shedding light on the strong effective partnerships between public and private sectors.