1- Who is Dr. Hesham Eissa and why did you choose this field of practice (Environment)
It is a difficult question in the beginning. Briefly, I am Hisham Eisa worked in the field of the environment in many positions. I was the Director of the Environmental Protection Fund at the Egyptian Ministry of Environment from 2006 to 2009, then I took over the climate change file from 2010 until 2016 During which I was the national focal point of United Nations framework convention on Climate Change ( UNFCCC) and I assumed the presidency of the Egyptian technical delegation in climate change negotiations in many of the United Nations Climate Change Conference of Parties till Paris Agreement in 2015. Also, represented Egypt, the Middle East and Africa in many international forums related to climate change, such as the World Bank’s Clean Technology Fund and a representative of the African continent in the World Bank for clean development mechanism projects. Finally, had the honor of being a member in the National Task Force on Climate Change for H.E. President of the Arab Republic of Egypt in Heads of State and Government of the African on Climate Change (CHAOCC). Now I am honored to chair the Specialized Council for Sustainable Development and Climate Change at the Arab Green Economy Council.
As for choosing environmental work, because I saw a great challenge in it, not only at the level of government work, but also at the level of personal ambition, I see that the environment as one of the pillars of sustainable development has promising and great opportunities to achieve comprehensive development.
2- What are your thoughts on the Climate Change and how have perceptions changed over the years?
Climatic change are not only a climate-related phenomenon, but the matter has expanded to affect the economic and social dimensions, but has also extended to include the political dimension, and therefore the effect of the phenomenon cannot be limited to sharp changes in the climate. In this context, the conference of the parties related to climate change have passed since 1992 several stages starting from an agreement on the developed countries bearing obligations to tackle the phenomenon based on the principle of “Historical Responsibility” of these countries for emissions since the first industrial revolution, till the conclusion of Paris Agreement on climate change. The need for the participation of all parties in the International community, both developing and developed, in treating the negative impact of climate change and emission reduction obligations. Hence, the next stage requires the concentrated efforts of the international community to reduce the effects of climate change and work to reduce emissions, but in an important framework is the need for developed countries to lead efforts to reduce emissions and work to help developing countries to participate effectively in this matter by providing required technical and financial support in accordance with Article 9 of Paris Agreement ” Developed country Parties shall provide financial resources to assist developing country Parties with respect to both mitigation and adaptation in continuation of their existing obligations under the Convention”, and of course, taking into account the national conditions of each country and its development aspirations
3- Sustainability is a very popular word and sometimes mis-understood or used. What in your opinion is the importance of Sustainability?
Sustainability is a word that has more than one definition, and there are multiple opinions in that regard, starts from accounting for the social and environmental dimensions in development and preserving natural resources for future generations, but how is that? I see that it goes beyond that, it begins with the conviction of individuals that taking into account the social and environmental dimensions are motivating factors to achieve more continuity and profits at all levels, and they are not a cost without return as some think. Achieving increased productivity for a worker requires achieving the most appropriate conditions for work and production, which are the conditions surrounding it, which means the need to preserve a healthy environment and achieve the best conditions of life for him to obtain the best productivity, and this in my personal opinion is the beginning of the practical application of sustainability, On the other hand, the requirements to achieve sustainable development lead to more new job opportunities, thus reducing, for example, the problem of unemployment.
4- How in your opinion can the private sector play a more active role in Climate Action and Mitigation? How does it make economic sense for companies?
The private sector, in my opinion, has a major role in the emission reduction process, because most of the economic activities that cause these emissions from industry, agriculture, and transportation are private sector activities. Reliance on clean technology, rationalization of energy consumption, modernization of manufacturing systems, reliance on modern agriculture and clean transportation is an essential role for the private sector. The role of the state here is limited to determining the general framework for the reduction (the national reduction plan) and the private sector implements it. Even in activities to adapt to the impact of climate change, the private sector has a major role to play (the co-benefit project). For example, in this context, relying on modern irrigation systems achieves water rationalization, which is one of the goals of adaptation in addition to reducing energy consumption which is one of the goals of mitigation.
5- What can government do to motivate both the private sector and normal citizens to integrate into a green economy?
A green economy means economic activities that are less dependent on carbon, and here, it requires a set of initiatives and incentives that encourage the private sector, such as the “Responsible Banks Initiative” adopted by the United Nations Environment Program, as well as the need to work on providing financial incentives such as interest rate support for projects that work on reducing emissions, the carbon trade policy is also a mean of additional incentives. In this context, the Egyptian investment law; in its executive regulations, encouraged the private sector to invest in sustainable development activities and climate change through social responsibility, but it is necessary here for the state to provide these incentives according to their national conditions. In other words, the financing modules that are suitable in the European Union, for example, may not be appropriate for the conditions of developing countries. Therefore, green financing initiatives must be reconciled in order to be compatible with the conditions of each country to ensure its success.
6- What efforts have been made in Egypt to deal with the issue of climate change? is it sufficient?
Egypt is one of the countries with great activity in the face of climate change, as there is an active role for the Egyptian delegation in the climate change negotiations at the United Nations. On the other hand, at the internal level, there are many activities that have been undertaken in the field of adaptation to climate change, coastal protection and combating desertification, and also at the level of mitigation, Egypt has many activities such as expanding dependence on renewable energy and energy efficiency The mass transit system is seen, but more needs to be done and the need for the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development to be consistent with the goal of dealing with climate change.
A point worth mentioning, Egypt has had good experience in clean development mechanism projects and carbon trade since 2006 in many projects related to renewable energy and industry.
7- At the beginning, you mentioned that the effect of climate change on the economic and social dimensions, is it possible to clarify in more detail?
We must bear in mind that Paris Climate Change Agreement, and before that the Framework Convention on Climate Change are not the only two agreements in this regard, there is another set of agreements related to this matter such as the Marpol Agreement for the Protection of the Marine Environment – Annex VI, the terms of the Civil Aviation Authority of the European Union, Green tourism terms, carbon footprint requirements for industrial and agricultural products. All of these agreements and initiatives ultimately concern the need to take necessary measures to reduce emissions, Thus failure to adhere to this may affect the aspirations of developing countries to attract foreign direct investment and seek to attract tourism as one of the sources of national income, even in obtaining foreign financing from international institutions, it is necessary to adhere to standards for reducing emissions such as private financing standards of the IFC. Failure to comply to these standards may also affect exports, which require the need to place a carbon footprint on the product being exported
8- How do you see the future of regional cooperation, whether at the Arab or African level, in the face of climate change?
Of course, there are great opportunities in Arab and African cooperation in combating climate change. On the level of adapting to the impact of climate change, the dangers facing Arab and African countries are the largest on the level of negative impact on this phenomenon, which is what puts ambitious plans for it in Africa’s 2063 strategy, and on the side of reducing Emissions, the opportunity is quite favourable to implement a regional carbon trading market to implement the commitments to reduce emissions, especially since the group of Arab and African countries constitutes 66 countries that have the capabilities not only achieve the goal of reducing emissions but also generate massive investment opportunities that achieve a lot of economic benefits.
9- How do you see the issue of climate change during the coming period?
The matter is still difficult on the scientific level, the goal of maintaining the Earth’s temperature below the level of 1.5 degrees requires more effort on all levels and from all sides, the developed countries shall put a clear mechanism for climate finance, away from financing other dimensions of development (ODA ), and the need also from developed countries to commit to implementing Article 9 of the Paris Agreement on Financing and also stated in the goal 17th of the Sustainable Development Goals, on the other hand the developing countries should assume their role according to the principle of “Common But Differentiated Responsibility (CBDR)”, the negotiators in the Conference of Parties (CoPs) from the two parties should take more flexible ways to achieve the goal. In the end, and despite the difficulty of the negotiating position, as well as the executive position of climate change projects in general, every challenge bears within new opportunities, and therefore all parties must work to convert the commitments into opportunities.