Minister of Environment Khaled Fahmy - File Photo
CAIRO - 4 August 2017: Environment Minister Khaled Fahmy has asserted that the government has a plan to address pollution on the River Nile in collaboration with several ministries, referring to clear-cut directives by President Abdel Fatah al-Sisi to tackle this issue.
Addressing a meeting held during a visit to MENA, Fahmy said the plan, which was launched by former prime minister Ibrahim Mahlab, seeks to cut the discharge of untreated wastewater into the River Nile.
Fahmy said that his ministry has its own observation network to monitor the quality of River Nile water, noting that the ministries of irrigation and health have their separate networks.
The minister asserted that pollution in the River Nile is still below danger levels in conformity with international standards. However, he said, there are pollution spots including some factories that discharge wastewater into the river.
According to Dr Mahmoud Allam, the head of the Ministry's Central Department for Environment Monitoring, who attended the meeting along with a number of other Environment Ministry senior officials, the number of direct polluting facilities has dropped from 102 to only nine.
He noted that the problem is now with indirect pollution caused partially by wastewater treatment plants which use primitive machines.
The minister said that the strategy of protecting the River Nile is continuous, confirming accumulative success.
As for the garbage collection fees, Fahmy said there is no intention to increase them. They now range from five to eight EGP. He asserted that garbage collection should become a national project with the contribution of all sectors in the country.
Asked about Egypt's stance as regards the current debate on the US decision to withdraw from the UN Paris Agreement on Climate Change, Fahmy said that the accord is balanced, adding that it serves both developed and developing states. "It respects all viewpoints," he said.
The agreement was reached by almost 200 nations in December and has been formally ratified by 109 representing 76% of greenhouse gas emissions, including the United States with 18%, he pointed out.
"Egypt's higher interests are taken into account in any stance on the global climate change," he stressed.
As for the consequences of the withdrawal of US President Donald Trump from the accord, the minister said Egypt is holding wide-ranging contacts with all the countries concerned, particularly developing and African nations.
"President Trump's decision will not take effect except after four years of its signing date and throughout these years some changes may occur. However, Egypt's decisions in this respect will be taken within the framework of the country's higher interests and not only with regard to the environment," he said.
Economic, political and social interests should also be taken into consideration, he added.
Fahmy said that the ministry has recently managed to secure $400 million from the Green Climate Fund (GCF) to assist renewable energy projects in Egypt. The sum makes Egypt one of the largest receivers of funds from the GCF.
The GCF is a new global fund created to support the efforts of developing countries to respond to the challenge of climate change. It helps developing countries limit or reduce their greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions and adapt to climate change. It seeks to promote a paradigm shift to low-emission and climate-resilient development, taking into account the needs of nations that are particularly vulnerable to climate change impact.
It was set up by the 194 countries who are parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 2010, as part of the Convention’s financial mechanism.
Fahmy said that the fund will hold its next conference in Cairo in November with the participation of 220 states and international bodies.
At the end of the meeting, which was attended by senior officials of the ministry, MENA Board Chairman and Editor-in-Chief Ali Hassan offered the minister MENA's shield in honor and appreciation of his great efforts.