Key role for universities in Egypt’s climate strategy

Egypt has launched its National Climate Change Strategy 2050 (NCCS 2050) that will be implemented by the higher education sector, among others. The aim is to enhance educational programmes, scientific research, technology transfer, knowledge management and more awareness to combat, alleviate and adapt to climate change.

NCCS 2050 was launched on 19 May, five months ahead of the country’s hosting of COP27, the 27th session of the Conference of the Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change 2022, in the Red Sea city of Sharm El-Sheikh, South Sinai, from 7 to 18 November.

The NCCS 2050 is in line with Egypt Vision 2030, which focuses on serving the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.

Costing about US$324 billion, the five-point strategy aims to achieve sustainable economic growth through adaptation and mitigation as well as better management of infrastructure along with scientific research and higher education.

Climate change education

The strategy will focus on promoting climate change education and research through several initiatives, including increasing funding opportunities for research projects and establishing a national entity to coordinate multidisciplinary climate change research.

Besides establishing institutes and research centres specialised in climate change issues, the strategy will focus on enhancing climate change educational programmes at both the level of undergraduate studies and postgraduate programmes at universities.

The strategy will also encourage the formation of research teams composed from different areas to enhance the benefit of research along with setting up partnerships with foreign research bodies to increase cooperation in forecasting and emergency response research.

Knowledge management

The strategy will facilitate the dissemination of climate information and knowledge management through several initiatives, including establishing a unified database for the exchange of research efforts between ministries, universities and research institutes.

The strategy will also focus on facilitating the coordination between different research bodies such as institutes, universities and other centres to reduce the gap between scientific research bodies, government agencies and decision-makers.

This will be done by setting up a system by the National Council for Climate Change that will regulate communication between research centres and ministries to share research results to turn them into projects ready for implementation.

Raising awareness

The strategy also targets raising awareness about climate change among policy- and decision-makers, ordinary citizens and students for achieving readiness to deal with any potential risks.

“This will help in producing a generation that has sufficient awareness of climate change and, therefore, is able to increase the effectiveness of the mechanisms required to address the consequences of climate change,” the strategy states.

These targets will be implemented through several initiatives, including organising specialised training programmes for policy-makers on climate change and launching national campaigns aimed at raising awareness among the various groups in society along with preparing educational packages for schools and educational institutions.

Strategy needs resources

Professor Hamed Ead, the director of the Science Heritage Centre at Cairo University, welcomed the strategy. He told University World News: “Putting universities and science centres in the driver’s seat to lead educational and research actions to tackle climate change will help in producing scientific workforces who will be at the forefront of addressing the climate crisis along with producing technology and systems needed for building a sustainable future.”

Victor Ongoma, a professor of climate change adaptation at Mohammed VI Polytechnic University in Morocco, told University World News: “The strategy could be a model for African countries, mainly because it addresses the key issues to advance climate change adaptation and mitigation, especially the use of higher education, scientific research, technology transfer and knowledge management in responding to climate change.”

Ongoma said the higher education sector has a key role in the fight against climate change as the sector is responsible for training climate experts as well as educating policy-makers and the public.

However, a failure to secure the required resources will affect the implementation of the higher education and scientific research parts of the strategy, Ongoma warned.