Egypt: Cairo Water Week, COP 27 and the road to New York

Tobias Schmitz Interviews Egypt's Dr Eman Soliman

8 Sep 2022 by The Water Diplomat

Interviewing Dr Soliman in Stockholm

At World Water Week, The Water Diplomat caught up with Dr Eman Soliman, Head of Planning at Egypt’s Ministry of Water Resources and Irrigation.

Dr. Tobias Schmitz: Thank you very much for your time, Dr Soliman. I would very much like to talk to you about the preparations for Cairo Water Week as well as all the preparations that have been taking place. Cairo Water Week is also a preparatory event for COP 27 from a water perspective, so perhaps you could speak to that also?    

Dr. Eman Soliman: Thank you very much for this opportunity. As you may know, Egypt has begun consultations for all activities related to water and would like to link water with the climate agenda and we would like to send strong messages to the climate community that water is an important issue, and they need to have their eyes on the water sector. We would like to have Cairo Water Week as a preparatory event for COP 27, as you have mentioned, and we have a lot of activities starting from the High-Level Dialogue towards the UN 2023 Water Conference midterm review conference: we are coordinating with the host countries, Tajikistan and the Netherlands as well as with UNESCWA, the FAO and many individual countries: we are going to invite more than 50 Ministers and are consulting among water scarce countries to send strong messages to the UN about their needs on achieving the SDGs in conditions of water scarcity.  We are focusing on actions, not only identifying the problems but would like to focus on solutions and commitments from countries around the issues of achieving the SDGs. We are going to invite representatives from different geographical regions: from the Arab region, from Eurasia, from the Mediterranean, from Africa: from countries with different conditions, we would like to have different perspectives on the same issue. We are having preparatory meetings for different activities at COP 27,of the Committee for the Water Pavilion as well as for the AWARE water initiative which will focus on early warning, early action, and resilience. The water related activities at COP 27 will be finalised and announced during Cairo Water Week.

Tobias Schmitz: So if I am right, you are saying that these issues have already been put on the table for the Netherlands and Tajikistan, and that the messages that are coming out of your dialogues will immediately be integrated into the preparations for the UN Water Conference?  

Eman Soliman: The outcome from this dialogue will immediately be submitted to the UN Secretariat: our Ministry of Foreign Affairs will finalise the document immediately after the Cairo Water Week, so with participants we are working to agree on the text of the call for action, and on the second day of the week we will call for an endorsement of the call for action. I hope that we can then have the voice from different countries around the call for action.     

Tobias Schmitz: I believe that the President of Egypt will also announce an Initiative?

Eman Soliman: The water initiative will be announced during a dedicated thematic day on water during COP 27, which will be on the 14th of November, but during Cairo Water Week we will announce the main outlines of this initiative to raise awareness among the different partners and organisations. The official launch of the initiative will be during the thematic day on water, which is in fact the first time that there is a day of the COP which is entirely dedicated to water.

Tobias Schmitz: Are there other ways in which water will feature during the COP?

Eman Soliman: We have the water day, we have the water and adaptation initiative, and we have the Water Pavilion which will now be entering its second year at a COP, which is being coordinated with more than 40 partners. In this context we will invite high level representatives from the UN to present how they will approach the issue of water.  We are currently in the process of agreeing on and finalising the thematic programme for the Water Pavilion.

Tobias Schmitz: Are you optimistic that after all these efforts, water will be integrated into the climate agenda?

Eman Soliman: From our side as a technical team working on water issues we are trying to attract attention and we cannot predict what the outcomes will be of the negotiations, but we do see an increasing attention for water issues and we are hopeful that they will be integrated into the climate agenda.

Tobias Schmitz: Dr Soliman thank you so much for your insights and clarifications of the process, good luck with he work and looking forward to seeing you in Egypt at Cairo Water Week!

Eman Soliman: Thank you very much for the opportunity!