How Egypt, host of UN Climate Change Conference COP27, is spurring a domestic ‘green economy’

Special How Egypt, host of UN Climate Change Conference COP27, is spurring a domestic ‘green economy’
A general view of Sharm El-Sheikh International Convention Center, which is hosting the COP27 climate summit. (AFP)
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Updated 07 November 2022

How Egypt, host of UN Climate Change Conference COP27, is spurring a domestic ‘green economy’

How Egypt, host of UN Climate Change Conference COP27, is spurring a domestic ‘green economy’
  • From sea level monitoring to aeroponics, locally led initiatives are spearheading the ambitious campaign
  • National Initiative for Smart Green Projects shortlisted 18 schemes to be exhibited at Sharm El-Sheikh summit

CAIRO: When the Red Sea resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh hosts the COP27 UN Climate Change Conference between Nov. 6 and Nov. 18, the Egyption government will use the occasion to promote its National Initiative for Smart Green Projects.

The initiative, launched in August, is designed to encourage foreign investment in Egypt’s many environmental and quality of life projects as part of its Vision 2030 social and economic reform agenda and its National Climate Change Strategy 2050.

From an initial 6,280 projects submitted to the platform from across Egypt’s 27 governorates, just 162 made it through to the final round of judging. At a conference in Cairo on Nov. 3, Mostafa Madbouly, the Egyptian prime minister, announced the 18 winning projects.




Climate change, pollution and exploitation by man is putting existential unsustainable pressure on the Nile, the world's second longest river on which millions of people depend. (AFP)

These 18 projects will be exhibited for international delegations at COP27 and will benefit from financial and technical support.

The projects were divided into categories, including those related to quality of life, women’s economic empowerment, climate change and sustainability, start-ups, and non-profit community initiatives.

They were also divided into categories based on their size. Projects valued at more than EGP200 million were deemed to be large, from EGP50 million to EGP200 million considered medium, and those below EGP50 million classified as small. 

“The key word for this initiative is localization, since it adopts an all inclusive bottom-up approach targeting all Egyptians,” Hesham Badr, national coordinator for the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, told Arab News.

“It attempts to reach every Egyptian citizen, man or woman, to be part of the climate change challenge and to include them in the solutions process.”

The initiative included women-focused development projects designed to empower them socially and economically and give them equal opportunities in the green economy.

The National Council for Women launched its own campaigns to encourage and support women looking to participate in the project. As a result, there were more than 1,000 submissions in this category alone.

 

 

To qualify, entries had to fulfill certain green and smart components.

The green component encompassed things such as clean energy, cutting emissions, waste management and recycling, and the ability of participants to provide a climate solution to a particular challenge in their village, province or governorate.

The smart component, meanwhile, included the use of mobile applications, the Internet, artificial intelligence, or any other kind of digital technology. The project, or at least one of its phases, also needed to be at the implementation stage to qualify.

“The whole world is looking for solutions, and these are solutions coming from the heart of the Egyptian community, from different villages, and governorates,” said Badr.

“So these are solutions to problems and challenges facing them. For the first time, we have a database of projects that are green and smart in Egypt. We have a mapping of all these projects and their location, whether they are in Al-Dakahlia, Alexandria or Cairo.”

FASTFACT

The 27th UN Climate Change Conference, more commonly referred to as Conference of the Parties of the UNFCCC, is being held from Nov. 6 to Nov. 18 in Sharm El-Sheikh.

The jury tasked with selecting the winning projects was headed by Mahmoud Mohieldin, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for Egypt, alongside key figures in the Egyptian government.

There was also an international jury composed of several UN agencies based in Cairo, including the UN Development Programme, the Food and Agriculture Organization, the World Food Programme, the UN Industrial Development Organization, UN-Habitat and UN Women.

Among the winning entries was a project providing smart facility management systems and modern pumping and irrigation to smallholder farmers to help them use water as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible.

Another winning project focused on soilless farming by promoting the use of aeroponics to manage irrigation, ventilation and cooling systems, saving up to 90 percent of irrigation water while providing safe and healthy food products with just 5 percent waste.

Also among the winning projects was a program that can predict extreme weather events and act as an early warning system for potential climate disasters on the Alexandria coast. The project collects data about sea levels at 24-hour intervals using sensors connected to a collection of floats deployed on the Mediterranean.




Concrete blocks are installed along the Mediterranean coast of Egypt's northern city of Alexandria to break the sea waves. (AFP)

Alexandria is considered extremely vulnerable to rising sea levels, making any technology that can monitor long-term changes or predict flooding able to help protect infrastructure and even save lives.

One successful project originating from the southern governorate of Luxor, called the Egyptian Bank for Waste, collects discarded materials from rural areas and recycles them for residential and agricultural use.

The National Initiative for Smart Green Projects is just one program launched by the Egyptian government to expand the green economy. It was during the COP26 summit in Glasgow, Scotland, last year that it launched its National Climate Change Strategy 2050.




Hesham Badr, national coordinator for the National Initiative for Smart Green Projects, said: “The key word for this initiative is localization, since it adopts an all-inclusive, bottom-up approach targeting all Egyptians.” (Supplied)

The strategy has four main targets. The first is about maintaining sustainable economic growth by reducing carbon emissions and by boosting the adoption of renewable energy sources.

The second target is to eliminate greenhouse gas emissions from non-energy activities, the third is aimed at maximizing energy efficiency, and the fourth encourages local green banking and creative financing methods such as green bonds.

Egypt’s Ministry of Finance issued the first sovereign green bond in the Middle East and North Africa in Sept. 2020, valued at $750 million with a five-year term and an interest rate of 5.25 percent.

Green bonds are defined as debt methods issued to obtain financing for climate or environment-related projects.

Egypt is not the only Arab country that is boosting green initiatives. The UAE and Saudi Arabia have committed themselves to net-zero greenhouse gas emissions by 2050 and 2060, respectively. Bahrain has pledged to meet the same target by 2060.

Since the launch of Saudi Vision 2030 in 2016, the Kingdom has taken significant steps to step up climate action and environmental protection through greater reliance on clean energy and offsetting emissions.

The Kingdom is exploring ways to diversify its economy and decarbonize by producing hydrogen using its vast reserves of fossil fuels, from which carbon capture, or blue hydrogen, is produced.




The Saudi Green Initiative was launched in 2021 with the aim of planting 10 billion trees in the Kingdom over the next few decades. (Supplied) 

Saudi Arabia plans to expand beyond blue hydrogen into other, even cleaner forms, such as green hydrogen, which is made by using renewable energy to split water. The NEOM Green Hydrogen Project, to be commissioned in 2026, will be the world’s largest green hydrogen plant powered entirely by renewables.

The Saudi Green Initiative, launched at the inaugural Green Initiative Forum on Oct. 23, 2021, consists of more than 60 initiatives, the first wave of which entails investments worth SR700 billion ($187 billion) designed to contribute to the growth of a “green economy.”

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman launched the first Saudi Green Initiative in 2021 with the aim of planting 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia over the next few decades to eliminate the greenhouse emissions by 278 metric tons annually by 2030.

The second Middle East Green Initiative Summit and the Saudi Green Initiative Forum will take place in parallel with COP27 this month in Sharm El-Sheikh.

 


Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO
Updated 03 February 2023

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

Almana set to expand network of hospitals outside of the Eastern Province: CEO

RIYADH: As part of its five-year plan, Almana Group of Hospitals, one of the oldest and largest medical groups in Saudi Arabia, is set to expand its network of hospitals, its CEO told Arab News in an exclusive interview. 

Being the first private medical center established in the Eastern Province, the group’s initial focus will be on exploring opportunities for a new hospital outside of the eastern region within the next few years with the view to expanding into other areas following that, Mana Almana informed.

“We are strongly aligned with the vision of our great leaders and stand ready to support the government to build capacity within the sector due to our expanding facilities and offerings tailored to the evolving needs of our communities,” he said.

Almana added: “We recognize that to meet the future needs of the medical sector, we need to partner with world-renowned healthcare institutions to help us accelerate and further develop the Kingdom’s healthcare system.” 

Not surprisingly, the group is also seeking to partner with the Ministry of Health under public-private partnerships to deliver advanced and specialist services.

As the only dedicated oncology unit in eastern Saudi Arabia, the group has recently expanded its specialists department in Dammam to cater to cancer patients’ mounting needs in the region. 

CEO Mana Almana. (Supplied)

“When it comes to oncology, Almana’s goal is to provide cancer patients with the highest international standard of care and cater to the growing need for cancer care in the Kingdom,” Almana said. 

“As such, in addition to our existing seven hospitals and clinics, we decided to create a dedicated space where patients could receive individualized and tailored treatment within a centralized and fully-fledged unit.” 

The new oncology center has been designed with the complexity of cancer in mind. By bringing the group’s 70 specialized oncologists under one roof, it can provide personalized treatments and precision fit for specific types of cancer. 

The new unit will include four new clinics specializing in medical oncology, radiation and surgical oncology in addition to four chemotherapy treatment rooms. 

“Besides providing exceptional treatment for patients, we also focus our efforts on preventive cancer care measures,” Almana explained. 

“Our efforts include free year-round breast-cancer screenings at all branches of Almana hospitals in Dammam, Alkhobar, Ahsa, Jubail and Rakah,” he continued. “Over the years, our free screening has touched the lives of over 10,000 patients, potentially helping to save even more lives.” 

In line with the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030 to unify patient care records and improve health information exchange, the group is investing heavily in technology within its hospitals to ensure all services will be automated while providing seamless service for its patients.

“We are also establishing a new central command center to improve patient outcomes by coordinating care between our hospital locations,” Almana informed. 

“As a group of hospitals, we continuously foster a culture of innovation to create value in areas of high unmet medical need across the Kingdom. For example, we’ve created unique offerings where they currently don’t exist such as our foot disease and diabetes center, the only one in the region,” he continued.

In addition, the group is also taking several steps to train and recruit medical professionals. 

“We also share the ambition of Saudi Vision 2030 to increase the number of females within the workforce,” Almana said. “Already, we have females leading our medical departments and are looking to increase this even further by 20 percent over the next five years.” 

“Over the last 10 years, we’ve also helped develop the next generation of doctors and nurses in the Kingdom through our official healthcare training academy, Mohammed Almana College for Medical Science, which contributes to over 180 Saudi graduate nurses each year,” he pointed out.


Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink

Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink
Updated 03 February 2023

Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink

Global Markets: Stocks, bonds tumble as stellar US jobs report may force Fed rethink

LONDON: Global stocks and Treasury prices tumbled on Friday after an unexpectedly strong US jobs report indicated the Federal Reserve may need to keep interest rates elevated to control inflation, according to Reuters.

This placed another roadblock in the way of a weeks-long markets rally that stumbled in US after hours trading on Thursday over disappointing earnings from Google, Apple, and Amazon.

S&P 500 futures slid 1.1 percent, contracts on the tech-heavy Nasdaq 100 dropped 1.8 percent.

The MSCI index of global shares fell 0.3 percent, having hit its highest level since August on Thursday in a rebound buoyed by optimism that central banks are close to the end of their aggressive rate hiking cycles.

The keenly-watched US nonfarm payrolls report showed US employers added 517,000 new workers in January, vastly overshooting expectations of economists polled by Reuters for a 185,000 gain.

Average hourly wages, which analysts and investors focus on for clues about whether a tight labour market may continue to fan the flames of inflation, rose 0.3%, matching economists' forecasts.

The yield on the 10-year Treasury, which underpins borrowing costs worldwide, added 11 basis points to 3.51 percent after the jobs data. The two-year Treasury yield, which follows traders' expectations of Fed fund rates, rose by 12 bps to 4.24 percent.

The Fed hiked its main interest rate by 25 bps to a range of 4.5 percent to 4.75 percent on Wednesday, taking benchmark borrowing costs to their highest since late 2007, and signalled more hikes to come. The European Central Bank and the Bank of England also raised rates on Thursday to contain inflation.

"In a year when the economic data is more important than the Fed, the January employment report clearly justified the Fed having tightened by 425 bps over the past 10 months," said Jack McIntyre, portfolio manager at Brandywine Global.

Ahead of the nonfarm payrolls data, markets had priced two US rate cuts by year-end on hopes the US economy was cooling enough to quell inflation but not on course for a downturn that could reduce companies’ earnings more than markets were already counting on.

US tech shares took a beating in after-hours trading on Thursday after Apple projected another revenue decline in the start of the year, Amazon warned that its operating profit could fall to zero in the current quarter, and Google parent Alphabet missed fourth-quarter profit and revenue expectations.

"We will see headwinds from further earnings downgrades, but we have incorporated quite a lot (of this) already so I think markets can hold here if we are indeed right on the Fed,” said Willem Sels, global chief investment officer at HSBC's private bank, who expects the US central bank to raise rates just one more time in 2023.

An index measuring the dollar against major currencies stood at 102.53, rising further from recent nine-month lows of 100.80.

In Europe, the Stoxx 600 share benchmark fell 0.4 percent. Germany's benchmark 10-year bond yield rose 13 bps to 2.14 percent, having on Thursday dropped by the most since 2011 as prices shot higher.

The euro traded at $1.0841, down 0.65 percent and pulling further away from Thursday's 10-month top of $1.1033.

 


World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency

World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency
Updated 03 February 2023

World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency

World food prices decline for 10th month running in January, says UN Food Agency

ROME: World food prices fell in January for a 10th consecutive month, and are now down some 18 percent from a record high hit last March following Russia’s invasion of Ukraine, the UN's food agency said on Friday.

The Food and Agriculture Organization’s price index, which tracks the most globally traded food commodities, averaged 131.2 points last month against 132.2 for December, the agency said on Friday. It was the lowest reading since September 2021.

The December figure was revised down from an original estimate of 132.4.

Falls in the prices of vegetable oils, dairy and sugar helped pull down the index, while cereals and meat remained largely stable, the FAO said.

In separate cereal supply and demand estimates on Friday, the FAO raised its forecast for global cereal production in 2022 to 2.77 billion tons from a previous estimate of 2.76 billion tons.

The FAO cereal price index rose just 0.1 percent month-on-month in January to give a 4.8 percent increase on the year.

International wheat prices declined 2.5 percent as production in Australia and Russia outpaced expectations. Rice, by contrast, jumped 6.2 percent, driven in part by strong local demand in some Asian exporting countries.

Vegetable oil prices fell 2.9 percent in January, the dairy index dipped 1.4 percent and sugar declined 1.1 percent. Meat slipped a mere 0.1 percent.

Looking at supply and demand for cereals, FAO said it expected a record global output of wheat in 2022 thanks to revised crop forecasts from Australia and Russia.

The forecast for world rice production was revised down on the back of lower-than-expected output in China, and is now predicted to decline 2.6 percent from its all-time high in 2021.

Looking ahead to 2023, FAO said early indications pointed to a likely expansion of winter wheat cropping in the northern hemisphere. However, it warned that high fertilizer costs may impact yields.

World cereal utilization in 2022/23 was forecast to dip 0.7 percent from the previous year to 2.78 billion tons. The estimate for world cereal stocks was pegged at 844 million tons, pushing down the world stock-to-use ratio for 2022/23 to 29.5 percent from 30.8 percent in 2021/22


Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data

Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data
Updated 03 February 2023

Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data

Oil steadies with spotlight on EU embargo, US jobs data

LONDON: Oil prices steadied on Friday as investors sought more clarity on the imminent EU embargo on Russian refined fuels, with prices set for a second weekly loss in the absence of clear signs of demand recovery in top consumer China.

Brent crude LCOc1 futures gained 15 cents, or 0.2 percent, to $82.32 a barrel by 1301 GMT, having dropped by about 1 percent in the previous session. US West Texas Intermediate crude CLc1 futures were up 12 cents, or 0.2 percent, at $76.00.

Brent is poised to register close to a 5 percent decline this week while WTI is on course for a 3.6 percent drop.

Investors are eyeing developments on the Feb. 5 EU ban on Russian refined products, with EU countries seeking a deal on Friday to set price caps for Russian oil products.

The Kremlin said on Friday that the EU embargo on Russia's refined oil products would lead to further imbalance in global energy markets.

"The exact details around what the cap will be and how they will implement it are still unclear," Capital Economics commodities economist Bill Weatherburn said, adding that the uncertainty is keeping a lid on prices.

"There hasn't been any data out of China to indicate the extent of the recovery in China's crude demand."

ANZ analysts noted a sharp jump in traffic in China's 15 largest cities after the Lunar New Year holiday but said that Chinese traders had been "relatively absent".

Markets now await US payrolls data due at 1330 GMT. US job growth in January is likely to have remained strong thanks to a resilient labour market, but expectations of a continued slowdown in wage gains offer the Federal Reserve some comfort in its fight against inflation, a Reuters survey showed.

The US central bank scaled back to a milder rate increase than those over the past year, but policymakers also projected that "ongoing increases" in borrowing costs would be needed.

Increases to interest rates in 2023 are likely to weigh on the US and European economies, boosting fears of an economic slowdown that is highly likely to dent global crude oil demand, said Priyanka Sachdeva, market analyst at Phillip Nova.

 


Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?

Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?
Updated 03 February 2023

Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?

Who is Hindenburg, the firm targeting India’s Adani?
  • Hindenburg is an investment research firm with a focus on activist short-selling. It looks for corruption or fraud in the business world, such as accounting irregularities and bad actors in management, and It can make money out of its work

NEW YORK: Hindenburg Research, the financial research firm with an explosive name and a track record of sending the stock prices of its targets tumbling, is taking on one of the world’s richest men.
Hindenburg is back in the headlines after last week accusing Indian conglomerate Adani Group of “a brazen stock manipulation and accounting fraud scheme.” It cited two years of research, including talks with former Adani senior executives and reviews of thousands of documents.
The Adani Group has blasted the accusations, calling them “a malicious combination of selective misinformation and stale, baseless and discredited allegations that have been tested and rejected by India’s highest courts.”
Nevertheless, Hindenburg’s scorching allegations have caused the fortune of Adani Group’s founder, Gautam Adani, to slide by nearly $47 billion in just over a week, according to the Bloomberg Billionaires index. Here’s a look at the firm behind all the movement:
What is it?
Hindenburg says it specializes in “forensic financial research.” In layman’s terms, it looks for corruption or fraud in the business world, such as accounting irregularities and bad actors in management.
Hindenburg has even come to be known as Ponzi hunters in some circles, according to the Washington Post, which detailed how it helped bring down an alleged $500 million scheme that targeted Mormons.
Where did its name come from?
The firm says it sees the Hindenburg, the airship that famously caught fire in the 1930s to the cry of “Oh, the humanity,” as the “epitome of a totally man-made, totally avoidable disaster.” It says it looks for similar disasters in financial markets “before they lure in more unsuspecting victims.”
Who else has Hindenburg gone after?
It’s perhaps most famous for a 2020 report on Nikola, a company in the electric-vehicle industry whose founder Hindenburg said made misleading claims to ink partnerships with top auto companies hungry to catch up to Tesla.
Among its allegations, Hindenburg accused Nikola of staging a video to calm skepticism about its truck, one that showed the vehicle cruising on a road. Hindenburg said the video was actually just showing the truck rolling down a hill after getting towed to the top.
What has come of such accusations?
For Nikola, quick scrutiny from the government and investors.
The company and its founder, Trevor Milton, received grand jury subpoenas from the US Attorney’s office for the Southern District of New York and the N.Y. County District Attorney’s Office shortly after Hindenburg released its report.
The Securities and Exchange Commission also soon issued subpoenas to Nikola’s directors.
Milton was convicted this past October of charges he deceived investors with exaggerated claims about his company’s progress in producing zero-emission 18-wheel trucks fueled by electricity or hydrogen.
And Nikola in late 2021 agreed to pay $125 million to settle SEC charges that it defrauded investors by misleading them about its products, technical advancements, and commercial prospects.
What does Hindenburg get out of this?
It can make money. In its Adani report, it said that it had taken a “short position in Adani Group Companies” through bonds that trade in the US and other investments that trade outside India.
It has made similar “short” bets against other companies it published unflattering reports on. A “short” trade is a way for someone to make money if an investment’s price falls. Afterward, if the price of a company’s stock or bonds falls because of the negative attention from the report, Hindenburg can profit.
Such short sellers have been criticized for unfairly pushing down prices of stocks with potentially unfounded allegations. But proponents also call them a healthy part of a stock market, keeping stock prices in check and preventing them from running too high.