Climate Change


Implementing practical measures to combat climate change

Mahmoud Sakr

Professor Mahmoud M Sakr is President of the Academy of Scientific Research and Technology (ASRT), Egypt. He has more than 15 years’ experience in the high-level management of science, technology and innovation. He served as Dean of the Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Institute, is co-founding director of the Center of Scientific Excellence for Advanced Sciences at the National Research Center (NRC) and is Plenipotentiary of Egypt in the Joint institute for Nuclear Research (JINR).


  • COP27 will focus on implementation of measures to combat climate change
  • There are already many suitable technologies available today
  • Science can help overcome the barriers to implementation
  • A key step is to bridge the gap between science and policy making
  • Success is not just about technology but also continued international collaboration.

COP27 is an African event which reflects the aspirations and expectations of the African people and communities and that makes it very different from its predecessor. COP26 succeeded in making the voice of science heard very loudly. However, Africans are looking for implementation, to see something tangible happening.

I was appointed to coordinate the scientific activity of COP27 in my capacity as President of the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology, a governmental organisation responsible for science and technology in Egypt. There are many differences between COP26 and COP27, but the objectives are the same. All of us who are working to confront the impact of climate change are using tools of mitigation and adaptation. Both are equally important; we cannot focus on one aspect and neglect the other.

A further difference between the two COPs is the very limited preparation time for COP27. The Egyptian government was notified very late, almost at the same time the United Arab Emirates were confirmed as hosts of COP28. But we have been very fortunate in the support received from the Royal Society and some UK university networks which helped a great deal. And we have of course built on the success of COP26.

The leaders of the African people believe strongly about the importance of implementation and at COP27 we want to shed light on the role of science in overcoming the barriers to it. There are many applicable solutions to many of the challenges of climate change: the knowhow and the innovations are there. Take the agricultural sector, for instance. It is very easy, using available technologies, to reduce carbon dioxide emissions. Simple changes, such as switching agricultural machinery from diesel power to photovoltaic, minimising the use of agrochemicals and replacing them with organic alternatives, and so on.

One issue here, of course, is to find the funding needed for scaling up and for mass application of the available technology. There are many others too, including changing the mindset of people in local communities, those small farmers whose existing practice is rooted in tradition and who need to be convinced of the value of new technologies.


In Africa, we believe that where there is a will, there is a way. One of the recent positive initiatives within the Egyptian sustainable development community is the linkage between the National Development Plan and the Climate Research Plan. We took the Sustainable Development Goals and Egypt’s strategic objectives for sustainable development by 2030. By linking this work to climate change research, the country now has a national strategy for climate change.

One of the specific objectives of the Egyptian strategy on climate change is to enhance scientific research, knowledge transfer and public awareness. A longstanding issue has been the gap between academia and industry. As a developing country, we believe strongly that bridging this gap will have a positive impact on technology transfer, commercialisation and return on investment from scientific research.

When it comes to climate change, bridging the gap between academia and policy makers is the most important issue, because they need to see robust justification for proposed actions. Fortunately, in Egypt, the President is already committed to climate change activities. This can be seen in the hosting of biodiversity conferences over a number of years and the decision to host COP27.

There are a series of mega-projects being implemented to voluntarily lower carbon dioxide emissions. In the south of Egypt, one of the largest photovoltaic facilities in the world is being built with a capacity of 1700MW. Egyptian public transport is being moved from a fossil-powered system to electricity. The country is building new resilient Smart Cities, investing in a major project on water treatment and improving the efficient use of this vital resource.

Egypt and Sudan produce the highest number of international publications related to climate change research. The local and regional science innovation community in Egypt and the Arab States and Africa are directing a relatively large portion of their research towards climate change.

Egypt is building new resilient Smart Cities such as New Alamein in the north-west of the country, on the Mediterranean Sea 

Practical measures

The Egyptian presidency of COP27 is focussed firmly on implementation. One challenge is therefore to find applications which support the efforts of different countries in achieving sustainable development under climate change. By doing so, we hope to convince the people, the policymakers, NGOs and the private sector that it is worth investing in these measures.

We convinced our government to invest in a national breeding programme for crop varieties that are more tolerant to adverse environmental conditions. We succeeded in creating varieties with low water demand. This success has persuaded policy makers to invest more in climate change research.

In 2015, we started to invest in renewable energy, promoting strategic knowledge transfer, localisation and international cooperation. As a result of this cooperation, we have established the largest central facilities for renewable energy R&D in Egypt. However, this serves not only Egypt but Africa as a whole. Local conditions affect efficiency so innovative approaches, tailored to specific conditions, are needed. There are no ‘one size fits all’ solutions: technology readiness levels, availability of finance, culture, religion – all of these factors can affect implementation.

The Egyptian government is organising three big events at COP27. The first is entitled ReDirect and focusses on the role of research, development and innovation in addressing climate change. Redirect refers to the redirection of public funds to climate change research, using existing vehicles for cooperation among international sciences to tackle the challenge.

The second event is related to the WIPO Green Technology Book and has been organised jointly by the World International Property Organisation (WIPO) and the Egyptian Academy of Scientific Research and Technology. WIPO is a catalyst for emerging technology around the world. Much of the information about green IPR is not yet in the public domain but green innovation is vital to tackle climate change.

The third event reflects the Egyptian vision for COP27 of redesigning climate strategies for a changing world. There are technological solutions available now, but sustainable development under climate change also needs collaboration and innovation. So this provides an opportunity to share and discuss the possibilities among the international scientific community.