25 September 2022 01:55 AM

Towards COP27: Arab Regional Forum on Climate Initiatives to Finance Climate Action and the SDGs

Thursday، 15 September 2022 - 12:00 AM

The United Nations Economic and Social Commission for West Asia (ESCWA) hosted the Arab Regional Forum on Climate Initiatives to Finance Climate Action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), at the United Nations House in Beirut, Lebanon on Thursday, 15 September 2022 in the Main Hall conference room.

The Arab Regional Forum on Climate Initiatives to Finance Climate Action and the SDGs forum is one of five regional forums being organized by the Egyptian Presidency of COP27, the UN Climate Change High-level Champions, and the five United Nations Regional Commissions (ECA, ECE, ECLAC, ESCAP and ESCWA), as a coherent set of regional preparatory events on climate finance leading up to COP27.

Objectives

The Arab Regional Forum gathers Arab public and private sector parties to discuss the means to accelerate the finance of climate work as well as to explore the climate finance needs of Arab States for ensuring water, energy and food security under changing climate conditions.

It, also, showcases bankable projects that can accelerate climate action as well as innovative forms of finance and regional initiatives that can create opportunities for private sector investment, blended finance and bilateral support.

In this respect, the Forum aims to:

- Facilitate engagement with a broad set of partners and stakeholders to accelerate public and private investment mobilization and blended finance opportunities around concrete projects and initiatives;

- Identify synergies and entry-points for climate finance to support the acceleration of access to clean energy, energy efficiency technologies as well as means for ensuring water and food security, which remain key catalysts for the attainment of the SDGs as well as mitigation and adaptation goals in the Arab region;

- Connect institutional investors, private sector financiers and development partners with governments and brokers dialogues around co-creating investment opportunities in support of regional priority actions.

Participants

The Arab Regional Forum on Climate Initiatives to Finance Climate Action and the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) witnessed the participation of Egypt's foreign, planning and finance ministers via videoconferencing while Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt, and a number of Arab ministers attended in person.

Also, the Forum witnessed the participation of high-level representatives of the public and private sectors and the international development community who are committed to delivering on climate finance in the Arab region.

Activities

The Opening Ceremony

Egyptian Foreign Minister and President-Designate of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) Sameh Shoukry said, in a recorded speech at the opening of the Arab Regional Forum for Climate Finance in Beirut, that Egypt as the COP27 president focuses on the importance of effective and swift implementation of climate pledges.

He stressed the importance of turning agreements and commitments into initiatives on the ground through partnerships that can become real stories of success for addressing climate change.

Shoukry called for strengthening collective action to face climate change and transform climate pledges into a reality on the ground.

He stressed the importance of boosting cooperation between the five regional commissions of the UN Economic and Social Council and the Egyptian presidency of the COP27, especially with regard to reducing carbon emissions that cause climate change and providing the necessary funding for countering climate change.

Shoukry, also, reviewed Egypt's preparations for hosting the COP27 in the Red Sea resort city of Sharm El Sheikh in November and its vision for the key issues to be raised in the upcoming climate summit, notably adapting to climate change and mitigating its repercussions, as well as working to rally climate finance.

United Nations climate change high-level champion for Egypt Mahmoud Mohieldin said that organizing regional preparatory forums for the United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP 27) is an unprecedented initiative compared to the previous climate conferences.

He highlighted that this initiative is adopted by the Egyptian presidency in cooperation with the UN via the five economic global committees and climate pioneers at the international level.

Mohieldin asserted that this is the first time in the history of the climate summits where the host focuses on the regional dimension of preparation.

He said that the initiative of holding five regional forums started several months ago as the first forum was held in Addis Ababa, the second was held in Bangkok, the third in Santiago while the fourth is held in Beirut and the fifth will be held in Geneva.

Mohieldin stressed that he focused during the forum on reviewing database and listening to proposed projects, especially in the field of reducing emissions and adaption to the harmful impacts.

Mohieldin emphasized that the Egyptian vision of five major regional forums ahead of COP27 reflects confidence that common regional work can overcome obstacles to financing and implementing climate projects amid current global challenges.

Mohieldin said cooperation between Arab countries can result in overcoming challenges and achieving climate targets, expecting that the Arab forum will result in effective and applicable regional projects that can be financed.

He said that the results of the previous three regional forums confirmed the importance of climate action on a regional level. 

He noted that the Africa forum resulted in 19 applicable projects in the sectors of transportation, energy infrastructure, agriculture, blue economy, and carbon markets.

He added that the Asia and Pacific forum resulted in 20 projects to finance NDCs, make PPPs, develop finance markets and cooperate in the energy sector,

He, also, said Latin America forum in Santiago resulted in four giant projects in the fields of transportation and energy.

The climate champion highlighted the existence of climate financing initiatives such as GFANZ to finance climate action by $130 trillion, with the most important now being to set applicable and bankable project pipelines to start negotiations about financing them.

Mohieldin stressed that financing these projects should take the shape of partnerships and investments rather than debts that represent 62 percent of climate financing methods.

He expected that the Arab forum will result in projects that are qualitatively different and vary in different sectors.

He noted that the Egypt International Cooperation Forum and Development Financing (Egypt-ICF 2022), which that took place in the New Administrative Capital (NAC) in September, focused on discussing the nexus of water, food, and energy projects and their most suitable financing tools.

Mohieldin said "COP27 that will take place in Sharm El-Sheikh next November will be a conference for solutions for climate action problems, especially financing", adding that the current climate financing is insufficient, where private sector participation doesn't exceed three percent.

He explained that "Climate financing is insufficient, inefficient and injustice, insufficient because we need doubles of current amount of financing; inefficient because it takes too long to be negotiated until it reach the actual implementation; unjust because the most climate change vulnerable countries are asked to pay for a crisis that they don't contribute to it, and they get the little share of finance to achieve their climate goals."

Mohieldin concluded his speech by requesting the Beirut forum to agree on effective, applicable, and bankable climate projects, and enhance cooperation between all stakeholders including governments, private sector, investment banks, and development partners in order to implement climate projects with a holistic approach that achieves all SDGs together.

A high-level session on mobilizing the necessary climate financing

Egypt's Finance Minister Mohamed Maait, Planning and Economic Development Minister Hala el-Said, and International Cooperation Minister Rania el-Mashat attended a high-level session on mobilizing the necessary climate financing.

The session was attended by Lebanese Environment Minister Nasser Yassin and Swedish Ambassador in Lebanon Anne Desmore.

Delivering a speech via video conference, Finance Minister Mohamed Maait reviewed Egypt's successful experiment in green finance, affirming that building capabilities and transferring technology are vital to ensure the efficient implementation of green projects.

He, meanwhile, said that finance day, which will be held on the sidelines of COP27, will represent a perfect opportunity for the countries to work toward easier access to green finance.

For her part, the planning and economic development minister Hala el-Said, who also participated in the forum via video conference, reviewed the policies adopted by Egypt to promote climate action.

She noted that 40 percent of the public investments in the current fiscal year's budget are directed to green projects, adding that the government plans to increase investments in green projects to 50 percent during FY 2024-2025.

She, also, highlighted that Egypt also launched in May its National Climate Change Strategy, which mainly aims to support a stronger, greener Egyptian economy.

Meanwhile, the international cooperation minister Rania Al-Mashat reviewed Egypt's successful experiment in taking ecological issues into account in all the national projects implemented by Egypt since President Abdel Fattah El Sisi took the helm in 2014.

The minister cited President Sisi's speech during the opening of the second Egypt - International Cooperation Forum (Egypt - ICF), in which he said that the environmental dimension is the main axis for all development sectors, including Benban solar park project, emission reduction projects and wastewater treatment projects.

The minister, meanwhile, pointed out to the ongoing cooperation between the financial institutions and the private sector in this sphere. 

Dr. Rania Al-Mashat, Minister of International Cooperation, reviewed the axes of the national platform for green projects, the “NWFE” program, which was launched in early July, and includes a list of green projects in the fields of food, water and energy, within the framework of the national strategy for climate change COP27, with the aim of mobilizing funds and stimulating the participation of the sector in support of green transformation efforts.

Al-Mashat explained that the forum would support the Arab countries’ orientation to expand the scope of climate solutions through innovative financing plans, especially since the recent period showed the urgent need to promote comprehensive climate action.

Al-Mashat stressed the importance of working collectively to explore solutions that can work to face the challenges caused by climate change in order to build flexible economic systems capable of dealing with challenges and achieving comprehensive and sustainable growth in the Arab region, pointing out that facing climate challenges needs trillions. dollars to finance mitigation and adaptation projects, which raises a question about the ability of countries to bridge the financing gap and mobilize financing from its various sources, and tools to stimulate the private sector to contribute to its huge potential in financing these projects, and coordination with development partners in this regard.

The Minister of International Cooperation touched on the Egyptian efforts in accelerating the pace of green transformation and achieving sustainable development goals, and the measures it has taken since 2016 at the level of economic and structural reform to encourage the investment climate, and the permanent link between development efforts and climate action through the implementation of environmentally friendly projects, stressing that the government is currently on an integrated vision to expand the scope of private sector participation in development projects.

Al-Mashat explained that the NWFE program reflects the objectives of the Egyptian presidency of the COP27 climate conference, which is to move from the stage of pledges to implementation with the aim of accelerating the climate action agenda, mobilizing development funds and private investments, and granting technical support to a list of green projects in the priority sectors, namely food, energy and water.

She explained that during the Egypt-ICF Forum, in its second edition, which was held under the patronage and in the presence of President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, two round tables were held on the “NWFE” program.

She stated that the Ministry of International Cooperation is working in continuous coordination with all multilateral and bilateral development partners to achieve sustainable development goals and accelerate climatic work.

The Closing Session

UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt and UN Special Envoy on Financing 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda Mahmoud Mohieldin said that twenty-eight effective projects in the fields were discussed during the forum.

He asserted that “The forum is well organised by ESCWA, Egypt's presidency of COP27 and [high-level champions (HLCs)], with the participation of Glasgow Financial Alliance for Net Zero (GFANZ), investment banks and development partners, which reflected the interest of all stakeholders to get involved in climate action.”

 Mohieldin said "Climate financing and encouraging investors and finance entities to participate requires the existence of applicable and bankable projects; that is the goal of the five regional roundtables initiative."

Mohieldin pointed out "It is necessary for Arab governments to link public budgets to [sustainable development goals (SDGs)] as public finance can be considered the cornerstone of financing development and climate action including adaptation measures."

He noted that climate financing should take the shape of partnerships and investments rather than debts, especially with having feasible projects on the table.

He explained that debts could represent investing opportunities in case the Arab states reached deals with lenders to activate debt swaps, referring also to the importance of blended finance as a method to implement climate projects.

At the end of his speech, Mohieldin confirmed the importance of investing in development and climate action as an investment in human capital in order to build capacity and enhance the skills of dealing with new technologies that development and climate projects depend on.


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