Egypt's Sharm e-Sheikh decks out for COP27 climate change conference

The goal of the conference is to increase the world’s collective ambition to fight climate change and to create the opportunity for countries and organizations to join forces.

 The Israel pavilion at Sharm e-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27. (photo credit: SHANNA FULD)
The Israel pavilion at Sharm e-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27.
(photo credit: SHANNA FULD)

Israeli flags were just getting rolled over the poles at the colorful Israeli pavilion late afternoon Sunday as the first official day of the UN Climate Conference (COP27) commenced.

The goal of the conference is to increase the world’s collective ambition to fight climate change and to create the opportunity for countries and organizations to join forces to reduce man’s impact on the environment.

Sharm e-Sheikh is the host location for the event, with 40,000 expected participants, 193 delegations from around the world and 120 world leaders. US President Joe Biden along with Special Envoy for Climate John Kerry are predicted to join and rumors are flooding the masses regarding participation from Russia’s infamous President Vladimir Putin. Residents on the Sinai strip are also expecting a visit from American actor Leonardo DiCaprio, or at least that’s what scuba divers hanging by the shore have been whispering throughout the weekend.

The beachy Egyptian resort city has spent 6 months readying for COP27

The beachy city of Sharm e-Sheikh has been gearing up for this conference for six months. Locals The Jerusalem Post spoke with say the city was beautified and made more modern during this time.

“The streets are normally clean, but they’ve improved the roads and added more greenery. It makes us, the Egyptians, very happy. Everything has been cared for.”

Amir Jabry

“The streets are normally clean, but they’ve improved the roads and added more greenery. It makes us, the Egyptians, very happy. Everything has been cared for,” said perfumer Amir Jabry from the sofa of his scent shop called “King Solomon.”

 The Israel pavilion at Sharm e-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27. (credit: SHANNA FULD) The Israel pavilion at Sharm e-Sheikh in Egypt for COP27. (credit: SHANNA FULD)

Merchants like Mr. Jabry are eager to welcome tourists. In the city’s outdoor shopping plaza, Egyptians assembled in traditional dress dancing to music, and showing off their culture. Restaurateurs displayed COP27 signs next to their menus and shopkeepers wore grins on their faces as people passed by, peeping into their windows. Police are rumored to have instructed front-facing members of Sharm e-Sheikh to be attentive to visitors’ every need. When asked if he was looking forward to increasing sales, Mr. Jabry said he’s actually looking forward to something else.

“We will see people from different countries and we care for them. Not just [our typical] Russian and Ukrainian tourists. Different people,” Jabry said. “I see them in the morning and all the way until midnight, they are free.”

He went on to explain the joy he gets from seeing visitors making use of the free city bus to get around and experience new cultures.

This year Israel has its first-ever pavilion, joining countries like Saudi Arabia, Congo and Indonesia, just to name a few out of the dozens that have already set up their spots nearby.

Former Israeli ambassador to Romania David Saranga now leads the digital diplomacy division for the Foreign Ministry. He stressed that bringing a delegation of 300 Israelis took a lot of cooperation with the Egyptian authorities and that they assisted with every last detail.

“I have no doubt that this event and the results of this event will bring Israel even closer to its neighbors,” Saranga said. “This is important for us because there are many challenges in our region; challenges we can deal with only by cooperating – and this conference in Egypt is a good place for that.”

Saranga went on to explain that next year’s climate conference will be hosted by Dubai, another Israeli neighbor Israel looks forward to cooperating with. He said the feeling he’s getting is excitement.

This year, 10 Israeli tech companies were selected to go to COP27 through th PLANETech World 2022 conference in Tel Aviv. The companies all aim to save the planet with their inventions.

The Jerusalem Post spoke with Gerhard Adrian, the president of the World Meteorological Organization, for which the UN is a parent organization. The WMO works with 193 nations to collect data on weather, climate and water with the goal of putting those numbers into perspective and eventually saving lives and avoiding extreme weather events. When asked if Adrian was excited to see Israel take up its own pavilion at the conference this year, he responded by stressing Israel’s importance in the region.

“[Israel] has quite a nice expertise for treating the limited water sources in Israel and promoting agriculture despite quite a challenging climate and ecosystem, so you [Israel] have expertise which is very much needed,” Adrian said. “I am sure there are technological means you could offer to the rest of the world. This COP is going to be very much about Africa, and since many African countries are highly dependent on agriculture, that means what you have created in Israel is very much needed in many African countries,” Adrian said.

The Israeli pavilion will be up and running with programs and exhibitions beginning Monday, November 7, 2022. President Isaac Herzog is expected to arrive for two days of the conference (November 7 and 8) which will compensate for the sudden ejection of Prime Minister Yair Lapid who was scheduled to arrive a day before President Herzog. A day after the November 1 election, when it became clear Lapid would not continue on as prime minister, his office announced he would no longer be attending.

COP27 runs until November 18 at the Tonino Lamborghini International Convention Center in Sharm e-Sheikh.