In-depth: Environment and Energy

A man digging a water channel

Biodiversity and Protected Areas: Through our collaboration with the Ministry of Environment on nature and wildlife conservation activities, Egypt has seen the establishment of ten natural protectorates across the country and UNDP has succeeded in introducing income generating activities to improve livelihoods, and secure local community engagement in conservation such as in Siwa and Wadi El Gemmal protectorates. There, women are being trained on local manufacturing and marketing of products using local materials. UNDP has also helped in establishing several of these protectorates and in preparation and partial implementation of management plans for seven protectorates which included Wadi El Rayan/Wadi El Hitan (the first natural heritage site in Egypt), Zaranik, Burullus, Gebel Elba, Omayed, St. Catherine, New Valley, Gilf El-Kebir and Wadi El Gemmal.

We are also supporting the upgrade of some protected areas to be a first class eco-tourism sites which will serve the Egyptian economy by creating jobs. This support comes in a form of providing basic services in the protected areas such as Wadi El Gemmal where visitor services are being established. Furthermore, the climate change fossil museum is under construction in Wadi El Hitan, the first of its kind in the Middle East, to host a rare whale called the “Basilcsurus”.  In addition, UNDP together with the Ministry of Environment is trying to introduce and spread the ticketing system in each protected area in Egypt which will help provide the financial sustainability of the protected areas in Egypt.

Climate Change: To address climate risk mitigation, UNDP has provided expertise to the Ministry of Electricity and Energy in translating the decision of the Supreme Energy Council to make energy efficiency a strategic priority. So far, the introduction and promotion of energy efficiency initiatives have succeeded in reducing transmission cable losses from 7% to 3.5%.

UNDP together with the Ministry of Environment facilitated and accelerated the market development for new bioenergy technologies by promoting the sustainable socioeconomic development of the rural communities in Egypt and reducing the negative global and local environmental impacts associated with the use of fossil fuels and the environmentally not sound management of the agricultural waste.  Working together, we created an alternative solution to the butane gas scarcity in Egypt using animal waste. The idea was based on our south-south cooperation with India which now scaled up to serve in 13 governorates in Egypt. Small companies, run by youth, were created to serve growing demand and sustain the activities.

Environment and Energy: Challenges

A man carrying sugar cane

The country faces mainly two major challenges in the area of water resources and energy. Egypt is reliant for 98% of its water resources on the river Nile. Pressures on water resources have increased with population growth, and the per capita share of water has decreased. On the other hand, for energy, Egypt is heavily dependent on oil and gas resources which supports over 95% of its primary energy needs. Only 3.7% of primary energy comes from renewable energy sources (2012 data), compared to 4% in 2007. Furthermore, depleting oil and gas reserves have put a heavy strain on the availability of these resources.

Other pressing environmental issues related to solid waste management, air pollution, land degradation, and the loss of biodiversity still persists. In Egypt, the most vulnerable sectors to climate change impacts are water resources, agriculture and coastal areas. Also, International reports identify the Nile Delta as one of the global hotspots for climate change impacts. Finally, Egypt contributes with about 0.6% to the global Greenhouse Gases emissions which might increase after coal enters into the energy mix.