As concerns about sustainability continue to shape practices in today’s world, a new study has revealed that a shift to a green economy trajectory can help Egypt realize annual savings of over $1.3 billion in the agriculture sector, $1.1 billion in the water sector and a 13 percent reduction in carbon dioxide emissions.

This new study was released recently by the Egyptian government in conjunction with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) and other partners. Launched at the African Ministerial Conference on Environment (AMCEN), the Green Economy Scoping Study for Egypt also reveals certain economic and environmental trends and projections such as the possible decline in 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 about 3.78 per cent annually, saying these can be reduced and reversed through strategic policy interventions that can accelerate the country’s sustainable development.

Basically, a green economy is defined as an economy that is focused on reducing environmental risks and ecological scarcities, while aiming for sustainable development without degrading the environment. According to UNEP, a green economy also results in improved human well-being and social equity. Therefore, such an economy can be thought of as being low carbon, resource efficient and socially inclusive.

“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,” commented Achim Steiner, UN Under-Secretary-General and UNEP Executive Director, at the launch.

“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 was prepared by UNEP at the request of the Egyptian Environmental Affairs Agency and State Ministry for Environment. It 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.

Commenting on the report, 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.”

By Emmanuel Iruobe

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