The Cairo Center for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience, which Egypt is launching in partnership with the United States, will assist African countries’ efforts to adapt to climate change.
Sameh Shoukry, Egypt’s foreign minister, announced the new centre during the COP27 climate-change summit, at a special session jointly hosted by the United States and Egypt titled “Advancing Adaptation Action in Africa.”
Several Egyptian government agencies are now working to get the centre up and running.
In a statement, Egypt’s Foreign Affairs Ministry said that the collaboration with Washington to establish the centre comes in line with calls for strengthening North-South cooperation in international climate work, including the promotion of adaptation to climate change.
Building African Capacities
Ambassador Mohamed Nasr, director of the ministry’s Environment, Climate, and Sustainable Development Department and chief negotiator for Egypt and Africa at COP27, said several ministries were coordinating to form the new centre.
“The centre aims to build up African capacities, and to help them adapt to climate change in particular,” he told Al-Fanar Media. “The centre will be financed with U.S. aid of about $10 million, along with other international bodies’ contributions that are yet to be determined, besides what Egypt’s government will offer in this regard.”
“The centre aims to build up African capacities, and to help them adapt to climate change in particular.”Mohamed Nasr, director of the Egyptian Foreign Ministry’s Department of Environment, Climate, and Sustainable Development
Nasr explained that climate change has become a development concern, with economic, commercial, and environmental dimensions, rather than a merely political one. Based on this, the Cairo centre comes as part of the United States’ initiatives to confront climate change through soft power in this case by increasing its investments in awareness and capacity building projects across Africa.
“This step aims to support developing countries that are greatly affected by climate change, due to their weak capabilities in dealing with such repercussions,” Nasr said. “All countries have agreed on the goal of confronting climate change, yet they have different paths to achieving this goal.”
Other Ministries Participate
Egypt’s Ministry of Environment is one of the agencies that will have a role in the new centre’s work.
Heba Maatouk, director of the ministry’s media office, said the ministry was awaiting the announcement of the mechanisms of the center’s formation and work foundations through the Egyptian Council of Ministers.
“The ministry is fully prepared for any efforts that contribute to confronting climate change,” she told Al-Fanar Media. It will assist in efforts “to implement what was agreed upon during the COP27 summit, in coordination with other ministries, and under the umbrella of the Egyptian government,” she added.
Projecting Soft Power
Ali Qutb, an international expert on climate affairs, says that Egypt is among the regional countries that are paying attention to climate issues through awareness-raising, training, and the use of soft power.
The Cairo Center for Learning and Excellence on Adaptation and Resilience is expected to play a prominent role in helping Africans better understand ways to confront climate change, Qutb said.
“This step aims to support developing countries that are greatly affected by climate change, due to their weak capabilities in dealing with such repercussions.”Mohamed Nasr
He added: “The Egyptian Meteorological Authority has a similar experience with a centre for training English-speaking Africans on climate issues, forecasts, and awareness of environmental issues, through intensive training courses held in Cairo.”
Qutb believes that the new Cairo centre will enhance Africans’ skills and experiences in facing climate change, and work to spread the culture of the green economy.
He expects the coming weeks will witness intensive meetings regarding the centre, to determine its headquarters, work mechanisms and a specific plan to achieve its goals.
$150 Million in New U.S. Aid
Besides $10 million for the Cairo centre, the package includes $25 million for the Africa Adaptation Initiative, a project of the African Union; $15 million to support the development and deployment of better systems to provide early warning extreme weather events; and an additional $13.6 million contribution to the Systematic Observations Financing Facility, which is working to fill weather, water, and climate observation gaps in Africa and other climate-vulnerable regions.
The U.S. aid package will also finance a number of other programmes for confronting climate-related hardships in Africa.
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