CAIRO: The “Environment and Development 2022: The Road to Sharm El-Sheikh COP27” forum began on Sunday. The forum is being organized by the Arab Water Council under the auspices of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment. 

Senior officials and experts from 30 countries will take part in the forum in Cairo, from Sept. 11-13, to discuss the impacts of climate change and ways to combat it.

Arab League Secretary-General Ahmed Aboul Gheit stressed that the upcoming 2022 UN Climate Change Conference is a unique opportunity to address issues facing the Arab region, which, though contributing a small percentage to climate change, is the most affected by it.

Gheit said that the world is still suffering from a deteriorating economic situation that has affected development because of the COVID-19 pandemic, and several ensuing crises.

He added that when the Russian invasion of Ukraine began, it significantly affected the market for food and energy, as the Arab region relies significantly on Russian and Ukrainian exports for its needs.

Gheit explained that food supplies can only be secured by improving water sources and by bypassing traditional policies. He also mentioned that facing the current challenges requires Arab cooperation by sharing burdens and exchanging experiences.

Mahmoud Abu-Zeid, the head of the Arab Water Council, stressed the importance of confronting climate change, highlighting recent droughts and flooding across the world as causes for alarm.

During his speech, Abu-Zeid said that “the scenes that the world is experiencing today confirm that water is the first element of life and that we have not used it well.”

He later explained that the reasons for the disruption of the water cycle stem from climatic changes.

He called on COP27 to discuss future expectations, including the increased demand for water, and to support the establishment of an infrastructure development fund, as the Horn of Africa faces its worst drought in four decades.

In his speech at the opening session of the forum, Egyptian Foreign Minister Sameh Shoukry pointed out that the transition toward renewable energy sources has become a priority in the Arab region.

He also highlighted the importance of financing projects to counter the effects of climate change, and providing support to enable developing countries to face those changes.

In a similar speech, the Egyptian Minister of Water Resources and Irrigation Hani Swailem warned of the dangers faced by many countries in the world by extreme climatic phenomena and their adverse effects on the water sector.

He emphasized the need to strengthen governments’ capacity to address water concerns in a way that contributes to the attainment of sustainable development goals.

Eight main topics will be discussed in the forum, all of which address the challenges of climate change, including food and water security, clean and renewable energy, sustainable development, ways to preserve the environment and biodiversity, control of carbon dioxide emissions, and sustainable transportation.