Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Current issue | Issue 1343, (4 - 10 May 2017)
Wednesday,19 June, 2019
Issue 1343, (4 - 10 May 2017)

Ahram Weekly

Coasts and climate change

Young people from 15 Arab countries have come together to offer solutions to the effects of climate change on coastal environments


Environment experts and young people from 15 Arab countries are demanding an increase in training courses such that they will be better able to monitor and take action on the environmental problems facing the Arab countries and particularly their coastal areas, reports Mahmoud Bakr.

They are asking that more plans be made to counter the effects of climate change, and are demanding that plans be made to increase environmental awareness in schools and universities and make people more knowledgeable about the importance of minimising the consumption of natural resources such as water and energy.

The environment experts encourage investment in clean energy and the large-scale planting of mangrove trees in coastal areas because according to recent studies mangroves can play a major role in mitigating the coastal effects of climate change. They emphasise that economic problems can be solved through sustainable development, increasing environmental tourism and studying the possibility of incorporating green economy ventures in development plans.

This list of recommendations was cited at the closing session of the Eighth Forum of the Arab Union for Youth and the Environment held in the Red Sea city of Hurghada on 25-29 April under the title of “The Effects of Climate Change on Arab Coasts”.

This round of the forum was named after the late Hamed Gohar, known as the “King of the Seas”, in cooperation with Arab and Egyptian ministries of youth and environment, the Red Sea governorate and the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (ISESCO) under the auspices of Secretary-General of the Arab League Ahmed Abul-Gheit.

Climate change

Governor of the Red Sea Ahmed Abdallah explained that his governorate was aiming to depend solely on wind as a source of energy in the future and believed that the environment was a crucial component of the tourism industry. A number of wind farms have been established in the region, he said, the latest of which was located in the area of Gabal Al-Zeit in North Hurghada and produced 200 megawatts (MW) of electricity a day. Another farm with the same capacity is currently under construction.

Despite the fact that the Red Sea coast stretches for 1,080km from Ras Hodroba in the south to Zaafarana in the north, Abdallah said that resorts extended for only 350km and there were 265 of these starting from El-Gouna and finishing in Marsa Alam. The governorate had 76,000 hotel rooms, two airports with a capacity of 15 million travellers, he said, and a solar energy station was being built in Hurghada on a million square metres of land to produce 40 MW of electricity a day.

Water is purified in all the cities of the Red Sea governorate, except Safaga, the biggest water-purification station being located in Hurghada with a production capacity of 80,000 m3 a day.

Magdi Allam, head of the Arab Union of Environmental Experts, said that Egypt should apply to join the international Green Climate Fund, established with an initial funding of $100 million, because members have a legal obligation to lessen polluting emissions. He added that a national authority for climate protection should be established in Egypt and affiliated to the cabinet.

Damage to the coastal environment had been the result of global warming, Allam said, which had led to the melting of polar ice and natural disasters like the earthquake and tsunami in Japan that led to the deaths of nearly 16,000 people and triggered a nuclear disaster in 2011.

He warned of the dangers of monopolising technologies for mitigating the effects of climate change, saying that these should be transferred to others. He suggested exchanging educational missions to end any monopoly on technology, adding that Egypt needed $30 billion to adjust its irrigation system to climate change and the agricultural sector needed $22 billion, in addition to other sums needed for transportation, industry, housing and tourism.

This would require the state to revise its 2030 development plans, he said, adding that scientific research and civil society organisations, especially young people, all had a part to play in supporting their governments and executing plans for sustainable development along with speeding up the transfer of renewable energy technologies.

More cooperation between Arab young people was needed as well as renewing the unified Arab strategy for youth collaboration in the field of the environment, said Secretary-General of the Arab Union of Environmental Experts Mamdouh Rashwan. The Arab coasts should be the focus of Arab environmental priorities, along with promoting environmental tourism in coastal cities, he added.

Director-General of the Red Sea Nature Reserves Ahmed Ghallab said that more measures should be taken to protect the coasts from climate change. He added that Arab, especially Egyptian, coasts had unique qualities and tourism to these areas should be promoted.

Mamdouh Meligi, head of the Centre for Mutual Aid in Marine Emergencies in the Red Sea and Gulf of Aden, demanded that laws be passed to protect marine resources and that there should be more cooperation among national bodies on the use of renewable resources.

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