CAIRO: With over 50 ongoing projects and contributions of more than ?460 million, the European Commission (EC) is serious about protecting the environment in the Mediterranean region. This was the message that came across at an interview with Klaus Ebermann, the EC Ambassador to Cairo. He spoke to Daily News Egypt at length about EC efforts to work with southern and eastern Mediterranean countries to improve the environment.
“Water and the environment are key to the future development of the region and the European Union is very heavily committed in these areas, said Ebermann.
“Over and above European Commission contributions, much is being done by individual member states, with bilateral projects, and through the European Investment Bank, with preferable conditions for financing initiatives with environmental aims.
As well as being a major donor in the Mediterranean region, the European Union is seen as a pioneer in combating climate change, promoting new and renewable energy and cutting the rate of greenhouse gas emissions.
“Yes indeed, the EU is definitely a world leader in combating climate change, Ebermann agreed. Among the initiatives currently financed and managed by the EC is a regional program specifically aimed at the construction industry to cut the rate of greenhouse gases by boosting the use of solar energy, and doing it at the source – when offices and houses are being designed and built.
The initiative, Euro-Mediterranean Initiative for Energy Efficiency in Construction Sector (MED-ENEC), aims to improve energy efficiency, reduce energy requirements from conventional sources, especially natural gas, and promote the use of solar energy for air-conditioning installations and cooling systems.
“Technology transfer of European best practice to the Mediterranean region is one of the main tools for the implementation of this project, he added.
Another EC project in the region looks at promoting renewable energy from the supply side: the Support for the Enhanced Integration and the Improved Security of the Euro-Mediterranean Energy Market (MED-EMIP) project.
“What we are trying to achieve with MED-EMIP, noted Ebermann, “is to boost Euro-Mediterranean technology transfer in renewable energy-related issues and to move the energy mix towards increased use of renewable energy and energy efficiency .
Ebermann also spoke of cooperation on sustainable and diversified tourism – the Mediterranean is one of the main tourist destinations in the world – and of the many initiatives the EC is supporting in Egypt.
The EC has funded the Egyptian master plan to develop medical and therapeutic tourism, one of a series of measures intended to diversify the country’s tourism products.
EC activities in the South Sinai Regional Development Program from 2007 to 2017 include a sustainable tourism development plan, an integral part of the overall aim of achieving social, economic and environmentally sustainable development in this area.
Finally, the EC ambassador in Cairo touched on the SMAP program, one of the main EC instruments in the field of the environment in the Region. Over the last ten years, SMAP has provided support to almost one hundred partners, and allocated a total budget of ?51 million by the EC.
“During its three phases of implementation SMAP has progressively moved towards more political and strategic objectives and it can be said that it has managed to start putting sustainable development on the agenda of the different Mediterranean countries, he said. “Looking ahead, the results obtained by SMAP are very valuable for new initiatives like Horizon 2020 for depolluting the Mediterranean and more generally for governments and individuals taking up the challenge of promoting sustainable development in the Mediterranean Region, Ebermann concluded.