Egypt was the host country of the 27th UN Climate Change Conference. That fitted as there were many projects ongoing in the North African country designed to mitigate the effects of climate change – which include, for example, rising temperatures and unusual periods of frost in Egypt itself. The approaches are diverse and innovative, with special focus on agriculture, climate-friendly urban development and an enhanced circular economy.
Samer Armeia never found beekeeping easy, although it has always been his passion. The 40-year-old from Abu Gergas has kept hives for 16 years. In recent years, conditions have become harder for smallholder farmers. As Armeia explains, ‘Unsustainable agricultural practices and pesticides, and above all climate change, have left the bees weaker and more susceptible to disease.’
Armeia has received support in the shape of agricultural innovations shared by the Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (GIZ) GmbH. In a programme on behalf of the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), GIZ provides assistance to business start-ups and small and growing enterprises, encouraging them always to manage their activities in a sustainable and climate-friendly way. Sustainable packaging and organic fertilisers are just two of the ideas promoted by the programme, whose projects have benefitted 175 companies so far.
Samer Armeia has made good use of the training in areas such as marketing and business planning. Thanks to the support from GIZ, the beekeeper has increased his income by 30 per cent. He has been able to produce larger quantities of better honey, and to package it attractively.
Almost one third of the labour force in Egypt works in the agricultural sector and agriculture accounts for 11 per cent of Egypt's gross domestic product. Climate change is one of the biggest challenges to future development in Egypt, where the climate has changed markedly, bringing high temperatures and periods of frost that were previously unknown. GIZ provides training to farmers – some 5,000 to date – to support them in dealing with these changes. With smart and organic farming methods, they can now earn a sustainable income.
Climate change poses other problems in cities, where people are directly affected by the rising temperatures. One way of alleviating this impact includes innovative urban architecture, whereby the microclimate (the climate of a small area like a neighbourhood or a street) is improved through measures such as painting walls in pale colours, and planting green roofs and shade trees. This is intended to reduce ‘heat islands’. A number of climate-friendly approaches are also used in the construction of new buildings. Solar-thermal and photovoltaic systems on roofs, and walls constructed with cavities for insulation encourage the sustainable use of resources.
Some 95 per cent of Egypt's more than 100 million people live in towns and cities around the Nile Delta – on less than seven per cent of the country’s land area. So there is a particularly great need to find answers here to the problem of city heat. Climate change is also addressed in contexts where the primary focus is not on mitigation efforts. For example, roof gardens are not only good for the microclimate, but also offer additional sources of income through the cultivation of fruits and vegetables and provide space for social interactions.
Circular economy – local and regional
It is important not only to mitigate the consequences of climate change, but also to slow its progress. It is in this respect that, for example, the circular economy enters the equation. Greenhouse gases can be avoided by systematically collecting more waste and recycling it more effectively. With support from GIZ, four regional district administrations have set up their own departments for waste management – to the benefit of more than 29,000 households. GIZ also promotes solutions that are implemented by small teams at regional level. Thus an ideas competition for women has produced numerous sustainable projects for climate protection.
One thing the wide range of projects makes clear is that it’s impossible to tackle climate change with isolated measures; rather, there is a need for diverse approaches. GIZ is assisting Egypt to become a pioneer in the fight against climate change and its consequences.
Last update: November 2022