“Open Dialogue on Climate Change” and the Environmental Forum “For Climate Africa in the Heart”

Within the framework of community participation between the neighborhood and civil society institutions, and under the slogan (Our environment is our life), the tenth environmental forum of Al-Azhar University was held under the title: “For Climate Africa in the Heart” under the auspices of His Eminence, the Grand Imam Prof. Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb – Sheikh of Al-Azhar and His Excellency Dr. The Minister of Social Solidarity and in the presence of Major General A.H / Ahmed Jouda – Head of East Nasr City District

The forum is attended by the Undersecretary of Al-Azhar, Major General Pilot Muntaser Manna, Deputy Minister of Aviation, Dr. Ali Abu Sunna, Head of the Environmental Affairs Agency, a number of representatives of various ministries and state institutions, the Secretary General of the Islamic Research Academy, Vice-Presidents of the University and the Head of the Al-Azhar Institutes Sector.

The conference comes within the framework of Al-Azhar University’s contribution to climate action and in preparation for Egypt’s participation in the African Climate Week on September 4, 2023 in Kenya, and the Middle East Climate Week next October in Saudi Arabia at the COP-28 Conference in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November 2023.

On the sidelines of the forum, a group of specialized workshops will be held, in which the various ministries, agencies and institutions of the state will participate, including:

The Ministry of Solidarity, the Ministry of the Environment, the Ministry of Tourism, the Ministry of Culture, Youth and Sports, the Ministry of Civil Aviation, Culture, the League of Arab States, the Center for Scientific Excellence in Military Production, the General Information Service, the Meteorological Authority, the Enterprise Development Agency, and many faculty members from various Egyptian universities, the Desert Research Center and Agricultural Research, in order to achieve cooperation and integration between Everyone in order to face the climate challenges that the world suffers from, especially developing countries.

The working mechanisms of the meeting included:

1 – Inauguration of green projects – His Eminence, the Grand Imam, Minister of Solidarity

2- Project classification (300) projects from the Ministry of Solidarity.

3- Climate project training.

4- Planting trees and green areas.

Al-Azhar University organized, for two days, Tuesday and Wednesday, August 22-23, 2023, at the Al-Azhar Conference Center, the activities of the tenth environmental forum, entitled: “Africa in the Heart.. for the Climate,” under the slogan: “Our environment is our life.”

During the forum, five main themes were discussed:

1- Economic development and building resilience for climate action.

2- Environmental, Social and Institutional Governance.

3- The role of universities in the digital transformation towards a green economy.

4- Mechanisms for mobilizing scientific funding for adaptation, flexibility, and student contributions in green projects.

5- Work on developing ideas and creativity for university students.

Prof. Dr. Mahmoud Seddik, Vice President of Al-Azhar University, indicated that the world today is facing a severe global crisis that can no longer afford to stand by as a spectator, in the opening session of the tenth environmental forum of Al-Azhar University, which comes under the title:

“For Climate Africa in the Heart”, in the presence of His Eminence Dr. Muhammad Al-Dwaini, Vice-Dean of Al-Azhar, and Dr. Salama Dawood, President of Al-Azhar University, in addition to a group of scholars, professors and students in the faculties of Al-Azhar University in its literary, human and scientific disciplines.

As the Vice-President of Al-Azhar University explained, our beloved Egypt is preserved by the command of God first, and then by the grace of God that bestowed upon it the presence of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, that ancient institution that influenced the history of Egypt for more than a thousand years, so it spread among its halls the sciences of religion and the world, until it was said about the virtue of Al-Azhar:

That there is no spot on the face of the earth that gathered from the scholars of the earth and its righteousness and effort in seeking knowledge, learning and teaching it like the honorable Al-Azhar. Siddik also explained that humanity, no matter how high it is and has a line of innovations and creations; It did not and will not enjoy a safe life without returning to the ethics of the universe that guarantees safety for all, so that they know that the individual decision to preserve the environment is an integral part of international decisions, and both are an essential hostage to the rule of succession in the land and its reconstruction.

Siddiq emphasized that the world today is facing a severe global crisis that can no longer bear to stand by as a spectator after everyone has heard its cries, ringing all alarm bells, and knocking on the doors of decision makers in our contemporary world to be a means of salvation for themselves before their environment, stressing the role of man in mitigating the severity of the effects of Those environmental disasters because he is the first responsible for causing them.

The Vice President of Al-Azhar University added that our true religion had a very clear position on this crisis in emphasizing the necessity of respecting the environment as a legitimate respect and warning against tampering with it.

And a friend reviewed the most prominent efforts of Al-Azhar University towards the global crisis of climate and environmental changes, which were launched under the directives of His Eminence, the Grand Imam, Prof. Dr. Ahmed Al-Tayeb, Sheikh of Al-Azhar Al-Sharif, with the urgent response to every local and international participation that would contribute to providing effective solutions to cross this crisis;

Al-Azhar University participated in the Climate Change Conference organized by the United Nations and hosted by Egypt in Sharm El-Sheikh in November 2022 AD, in addition to participating in the Conference of the Parties (COP27) and emphasizing a set of scientific and realistic solutions to overcome this global crisis and its repercussions on the current and future generations.

A friend added that Al-Azhar University has organized many scientific forums over the past years. In 2017, the university launched the first international scientific conference on environment, sustainable development, and community service, entitled: “Energy…a right and a responsibility.”

The university also held its second international scientific conference on environment and sustainable development, entitled: “Our Resources… Our Lives.” During the previous years, the most prominent of which were:

“A Point of Water equals Life” 2019 AD, the Biological Diversity Forum, the Adaptation and Mitigation Forum 2022 AD, the first Dialogue Forum on Societal Issues 2022 AD, and the Forum for Enhancing the Capacity of Civil Society towards Climate Change 2022 AD.

Siddig also stressed that these efforts stem from the regional role of Al-Azhar University to enhance the efforts of the Egyptian state in facing local and global issues, as the conference aimed to adopt policies and implementation mechanisms to confront these changes in accordance with Egypt’s Vision 2030 in the aspect of environmental security.

During a speech delivered by Abu Sneh on behalf of Dr. Yasmine Fouad, Minister of Environment, at the Tenth Environmental Forum of Al-Azhar University.

Dr. Ali Abu Sneh, CEO of the Environmental Affairs Agency, stressed Egypt’s constant endeavor to enhance Egyptian-African cooperation, which is one of the most important goals of the Egyptian state, as the Egyptian leadership realizes that cooperation Economic and development is an imperative requirement for the region as a whole, pointing out that the Ministry of Environment is keen to extend cooperation to activate Africa’s Agenda 2063 under the Egyptian leadership in the field of environment, especially the issue of climate change, as infrastructure development contributes to achieving sustainable development goals and improving the standard of living of African citizens.

At the end of his speech, the head of the Environmental Affairs Agency stressed the importance of protecting, preserving and restoring nature and ecosystems, while working to adopt a transformational approach to enhance adaptive capacity, strengthen resilience, and reduce exposure to climate change, and work to support and involve governments, central banks, commercial banks, investors and financial actors.

And the other, and encourage multilateral development banks to contribute to increasing climate ambition, and work to increase the full, meaningful and equal participation of women in climate action, and encourage the participation of children and youth.

During the special sessions of the conference, which were held on Wednesday, August 22, 2023, there was a session and an open dialogue about the work.

The session was chaired by Prof. Dr. Kholoud Hussam and attended by:
⦁ Dr. Mohammad Bashar Arafat

President of the Civilizations Exchange & Cooperation Foundation

• Mr. Philip McMaster
A global environmental activist interested in environmental issues and sustainable development

⦁ Dr. Kholoud Hossam: Dean of the Faculty of Commerce, Assiut Girls
“Green Bonds”

⦁ Prof. Dr. Fawzy El-Essawy Younis: Professor of Adaptation Physiology at the Desert Research Center
The director of open dialogues on climate change in Egypt after COOP27 to COP28.

“Climate Change and Desertification in Africa”

⦁ Dr. Hanem El-Sheikh: Assistant Professor at the Agricultural Research Center
“Climate Change and Global Food Security”

⦁ Prof. Dr. Manal Khairy: Professor of Economics at Helwan University
“Green Economy”

⦁ Dr. Rania Fouad: Assistant Professor, Helwan Engineering
“Sustainable Green Building”

⦁ Dr. Hind Amin
“European Experiences in Confronting and Adapting to Climate Change”

Comments and Open Dialogues During the Meeting Topics:

Many faculty members at the university and from the various faculties of the university participated in the dialogue, and their dialogues and active participation on the topics of the session and sparking open dialogue played a prominent role in enriching and deepening, which helps in building knowledge capacities on sustainability, climate change issues, desertification and biological diversity (the three Rio conventions), including: Dr. Noha Salah El-Sayed, a teacher of linguistics at the Faculty of Islamic and Arabic Studies for Girls, Alexandria.

Dr. Hoda Al-Banna, teacher of literature and criticism at the Faculty of Islamic and Arab Studies, for girls, Alexandria.

The most important recommendations of the session and the open dialogue on climate action and environmental sustainability were:

⦁ Interest in capacity building for individuals and institutions on the issue of climate action and sustainable development.

⦁ The importance of cooperation and the transfer of expertise between countries, especially in environmental issues, cultures and civilizations between countries, reflecting the interdependence of humanity environmentally, culturally and civilizationally.

⦁ Paying attention to environmental visions and issues (the three Rio agreements) and the economy that is shorter on both local, regional and global fishing. The world has now become like a small village.

⦁ Achieving more international commitments, especially from industrialized countries, which supports sustainability and combating desertification in African countries.

⦁ Increase corporate, collaboration, and transformation activities and promote investments that support ecosystem conservation and restoration

⦁ Increasing technological support and technology transfer from developed countries to developing countries that are most affected by climate change.

⦁ Adopting sustainable food systems and heading towards a green and low-carbon economy.

⦁ Adopt an approach that helps to conserve land and its uses as well as sustainable management to reverse (stop) its degradation.

⦁ Expanding the use of early warning systems and climate-smart agriculture systems, as well as artificial intelligence systems and the Internet of similarities in the agricultural, plant, animal and marine fields as well, which enhances methods of mitigation and adaptation to climate change and the flexibility needed for that.

In conclusion, the attendees stressed the need to adopt and strengthen some mechanisms through which we can all be part of the solution to the climate crisis:

1. Spread the word: encourage friends, families and co-workers to reduce your carbon footprint. Positive participation in environmental forums and open dialogues, such as the open dialogues on climate change in Egypt and many countries of the world, and other initiatives that help build capacities on climate action and environmental sustainability.

2. Continue to pressure and demand a reduction in emissions: put pressure on actors and exporters of emissions locally, regionally and internationally, and local and international companies to support efforts to reduce emissions and reduce the carbon footprint.

3. Transform your transportation: The transportation sector is responsible for about a quarter of all greenhouse gas emissions (25%).

Many governments around the world are implementing policies to decarbonize transportation and switch to new, renewable energy sources such as green hydrogen.

4. Control energy use: If you can, replace your energy supply with one that is carbon-neutral or powered by renewable energy. Install solar panels on your rooftops.

Be more efficient: turn the heat down a notch or two if possible. Turn off appliances and lights when not in use and it’s best to buy the most energy efficient products in the first place.

5. Adjust your diet: eat more plant-based meals, your body will thank you and the planet will thank you as well.

Today about 60 percent of the world’s agricultural land is used for grazing livestock and people in many countries consume more food from animal sources than is healthy.

6. Shop local and buy sustainably: To reduce your carbon footprint in your food, buy local and seasonal foods. This will help small businesses and farms in your area and will contribute to reducing fossil fuel emissions associated with transportation (supply chains) and storage of produce by freezing and refrigeration methods.

7. Do not waste food: one-third of the food produced is lost or wasted according to the United Nations Environment Programme’s Food Waste Index Report 2021.

People globally waste around one billion tons of food annually which represents about 8-10 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. .

8. Wear “green” clothing: The fashion industry accounts for 8 to 10 percent more global carbon emissions than all international air travel and shipping combined and “fast fashion” has created a culture of throwaway clothes that quickly end up in landfills .

But we can change this pattern of behavior by buying fewer new clothes and wearing them for a longer period, and when not used, they can be recycled in environmentally friendly ways that ultimately support reducing the carbon footprint of individuals, institutions and countries.

9. Plant trees: Every year nearly 12 million hectares of forest are destroyed. Deforestation, along with agriculture and other land use changes, is responsible for nearly 25 percent of global greenhouse gas emissions. We can all play a role in reversing this trend by planting trees, either individually or as part of a group.

For example, initiatives such as the local “Plant a Tree” initiative and the global “Plant for Planet” initiative allow people to sponsor tree planting all over the world.

10. Focus on planet-friendly investments (green and circular economy – low carbon economy): Individuals can also catalyze change through their savings and investments by choosing financial institutions that do not invest in carbon polluting industries. This sends a clear signal to the market.

Many financial institutions already offer more ethical investments, allowing you to use your money to support causes you believe in and avoid those you don’t.

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