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NOVA Cairo at COP 27: the role of universities in the fight against climate change

Sofia Guedes Vaz, the director of the degree in environmental engineering at NOVA's Cairo campus, will attend the UN conference dedicated to climate change, in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh  

The first time in one of these UN Climate Change Conferences was in Madrid, the Spanish capital, in the year 2019. She attended again last year in Glasgow, Scotland, where she arrived by bicycle. She was travelling then as a consultant of the Portuguese government, which had led the European presidency for the first six months of the year. Now, the director of NOVA Cairo's environmental engineering programme, Sofia Guedes Vaz, is repeating the experience and will be at COP27 which takes place in the Egyptian city of Sharm el-Sheikh between the 6th and the 18th of November.  

Sofia Guedes Vaz na COP do ano passado, em Glasgow
Sofia Guedes Vaz at COP 26, in Glasgow

"I will be there between the 9th and the 12th to participate in a conference organised by the British Egyptian Business Association about the role and responsibility of universities in relation to climate change," she explains, from the NOVA Cairo campus, erected in the region of Egypt's new administrative capital.   

"Universities can give the example and show the best way to use certain resources", says the professor about NOVA Cairo, where she would like - similarly to what happens in Lisbon, which has also elected sustainability as one of the priorities - to propose more sustainable measures. For example?  "We have four four-storey buildings and, although they are not very tall, people always take lifts. So, the challenge is to think about how to encourage everyone to use more the stairs", explains Sofia Guedes Vaz.   

Developed together with Coventry University, with whom NOVA Cairo shares the campus, the project mixes design concepts (such as staircase embellishment) with others from psychology (making surveys, to better understand the student's perspective and produce the right messages).   

"The environmental engineering students will do the energy consumption study part, and the environmental framework of the project," she says, before revealing the key points of the lift project. "It's called Step UP and it combines a series of arguments that we all know but don't practise. Such as it's healthier, more sustainable, more economical, sometimes even faster, and above all, it's cooler," she underlines.    

Before that, and already this Sunday, the 6th of November, NOVA Cairo opens its doors to host the lecture "The Future of Cities and Regenerative Development", presented by Tony Cho, founder and CEO of “Future of Cities”, a platform that aims to drive sustainable real estate development through real estate investment, public advocacy and venture capital investments.  

"He will speak about the future of cities, the importance of sustainable design, smart and renovated cities, social innovation and community development," says Sofia Guedes Vaz, before concluding: "this before - also! - heading off to COP27".