Sharm el-Sheikh Declaration of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East Climate Change Initiative: A Watershed Moment for Regional Climate Efforts

The EMME-CCI Regional Action Plan contains recommendations towards technologically mature and affordable solutions to address the impacts of climate change in different sectors, based on the findings of 240 scientists who worked to form the basis for the plan, under the coordination of The Cyprus Institute and the contribution of researchers from CARE-C and EMME-CARE.

The signing of the Political Declaration by countries of the Eastern Mediterranean and Middle East (EMME) region to officially launch the EMME Climate Change Initiative (EMME-CCI) was announced at a Summit hosted by the President of the Republic Mr. Nicos Anastasiades and President of Egypt Mr. Abdel Fatah al Sisi, on 8 November 2022, on the sidelines of COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt. The event was attended by heads of state or government and other high rank government officials and organization representatives.

The signing of the Political Declaration earmarks the official launch of the Initiative, which has been undertaken by Cyprus since 2019 and constitutes a milestone for the region’s efforts to address the climate crisis and ensure resilience and prosperity in the EMME.

Speaking at the event, President Anastasiades warmly thanked President el-Sisi for hosting and co-organizing the sideline Summit, and welcomed participants for the adoption of the EMME-CCI. He stressed that their presence at the Summit is indicative of the collective determination to address the dire effects of climate change in the EMME and that through the scientific work that has been made available through the EMME-CCI, countries of the region now have a better understanding of how the crisis will unfold in the near future, and which actions to implement to address it.

With the signing of the Political Declaration EMME countries are fully – equipped to proceed with the implementation of the relevant regional climate Action Plan, which as President Anastasiades noted emphasizes on transboundary actions, and through it hopes and expects countries of the region will:

  • Succeed in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and our carbon footprint, adhering to the Paris Agreement;
  • Adapt to some of the unfortunately unavoidable climate change impacts;
  • Establish the necessary mechanisms for more resilient and competitive economies by switching to renewable and cleaner energy;
  • Obtain access to appropriate climate change financial instruments and mechanisms;
  • Provide incentives to our businesses and industries so as to adapt and shift to sustainable and green technologies in order to increase their competitiveness in the global markets, and;
  • Create new green employment opportunities.

In his closing remarks, President Anastasiades commented the guidance of Minister of Agriculture and Environment, Mr. Costas Cadis, and Prof. Costas Papanicolas Presidential Advisor, Special Envoy on Climate Change and CyI President for their collaboration, thanked the scientists for their contribution in delivering a regional climate action plan, and highlighted that the Summit and Declaration mark the common effort to turn the Action Plan into concrete policies and projects.

On his part, the President of Egypt, speaking through an interpreter said, among other things, that Egypt was very eager to participate in this initiative, adding that the EMME region is a climate change hot spot with consequences at all levels. He added that the initiative is a major global mechanism when it comes to actions to deal with the impact of climate change. He noted the Importance of such initiatives, pointing out that the scientific component this initiative it includes is indispensable. Concluding he said that he looks forward to learning more about the initiative and the actions it includes, noting the common interests and collaboration between Cyprus and Egypt.

The President of Iraq Mr. Abdul Latif Rashid, the Prime Minister of Greece Mr. Kyriakos Mitsotakis, the Prime Minister and Minister of Defence of Jordan Dr Bisher al Khasawneh, the  Prime Minister of the State of Palestine Mr. Mohammad Shtayyah, the Minister of Environmental Protection of Israel Mrs. Tamar Zandberg, the Secretary General of WMO Professor Petteri Talas, the Secretary General of the Union for the Mediterranean Mr. Nasser Kamel, the President of the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (UN SDSN) Prof. Jeffrey Sachs, the Executive Secretary of the UN Economic Cooperation for Europe Mrs. Olga Algayerova, the COP 26 Regional Ambassador for the Middle East and Africa Mrs. Janet Rogan and the Deputy Director General of FAO Mrs. Maria Helena Semedo, also addressed the event.

It is noted that during the Summit, Dr Costas Kadis, Minister of Agriculture, Rural Development and Environment, presented the EMME-CCI and reiterated its message that “only by acting collectively, decisively and based on sound scientific knowledge can we avoid the worst consequences of climate change in our region”.

Respectively, Prof. Costas N. Papanicolas, Presidential Special Envoy for Climate Change, and President of The Cyprus Institute, presented on the EMME-CCI Regional Action Plan, which contains recommendations for working towards technologically mature and affordable solutions for addressing the impacts of climate change in different sectors, based on the findings of the 240 scientists that worked to form the basis upon the Plan was developed, under the coordination of the Cyprus Institute.

It should be noted that the contribution of researchers of CARE-C, as well as EMME-CARE’s Advance Partners from the University of Helsinki, the Max Planck Institute for Chemistry and CEA, has been instrumental in producing these findings, particularly as they coordinated efforts for the report on the scientific basis of Climate Change.

Countries of the EMME region are already witnessing common challenges, such as record high temperatures, devastating fires, increased water scarcity, droughts, floods and extreme weather patterns. According to a recent study published in the Reviews of Geophysics, with first author Dr. George Zittis, CARE-C Associate Research Scientist at The Cyprus Institute , this situation is only due to intensify, with the region currently at risk of an overall warming of 5°C by 2100, unless urgent coordinated climate action is initiated by the countries of the region.

The event was also attended by the Prime Minister of the Holy See Pietro Parolin, Ministers and government representatives from Oman, Lebanon, Bahrain, as well as representatives of international organizations.

Photo: The President of Egypt, H.E. Mr. Abdel Fatah al Sisi, and the President of the Republic of Cyprus, H.E. Mr. Nicos Anastasiades, co-hosted the Summit of the Heads of States of the EMME region, on the sidelines of COP27 in Sharm el Sheikh, Egypt.