Saudi Arabia to host Saudi Green Initiative Forum and Middle East Green Initiative Summit

Events will help catalyse climate action in a regionally and internationally co-ordinated manner

People walk on a tree-lined lane in the Saudi capital Riyadh, on March 29, 2021. - Although the OPEC kingpin seems an unlikely champion of clean energy, the "Saudi Green Initiative" aims to reduce emissions by generating half of its energy from renewables by 2030. (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)
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Saudi Arabia will host the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) and The Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) in Riyadh from October 23 to 25.

Both initiatives will bring together heads of state, public officials, business leaders, academic pioneers, environmental specialists and civil society, according to a statement.

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman unveiled the SGI and MGI in March to reverse environmental degradation and climate change.

Part of the kingdom's Vision 2030 to reshape its economy, both initiatives provide an ambitious roadmap for the kingdom and region to meet worldwide emissions targets.

“As a leading global producer of oil, we are fully aware of our share of the responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis and as our pioneering role in stabilising energy markets during the oil and gas era, we will act to lead the next green era,” the crown prince said.

“The kingdom and the region are facing many environmental challenges, such as desertification, which poses an economic threat to the region, as it is estimated that $13 billion is drained by sandstorms in the region every year and air pollution from greenhouse gases is estimated to have reduced the average age of citizens by one and a half years.

“We will act through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation, and preserve marine life.”

These events reinforce the kingdom’s commitment to making a sustainable global impact in the face of climate change and will enhance its work to protect the environment and the planet at large, the statement added.

Focused on advancing towards the achievement of global targets, the events will help catalyse climate action in a regionally and internationally co-ordinated manner.

The SGI and MGI aim to collectively plant 50 billion trees, covering an area double the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region and representing five per cent of the global tree planting target. The initiatives also aim to propel the region towards achieving more than 10 per cent of global carbon emissions reduction targets.

The kingdom recognises fully its share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis
Mohammed bin Salman, Saudi Crown Prince

The hosting of these two critical events reflects Saudi Arabia’s ambition to advance global efforts in combating climate change and strengthen its regional and global role in overcoming even the most pressing environmental challenges, the statement said.

Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation and create millions of high-quality jobs, Prince Salman said.

Young people, both in the kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and “we owe it to them to deliver on this”, he said.

To combat these threats, the SGI will raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution and land degradation, and preserve marine life.

The initiative will cut carbon dioxide emissions in the Middle East by 60 per cent. The percentage of protected areas in Saudi Arabia will be raised to more than 30 per cent of its total land area, substantially higher than the current global target of 17 per cent.

The focus is not just on land – marine and coastal environments will also be the targets of series of pioneering measures.

Consistent with the kingdom’s Vision 2030 aspirations, the SGI will work to reduce its global carbon emissions by more than four per cent by 2030. By the same date, the crown prince said 50 per cent of the kingdom’s energy will come from renewables.

Clean hydrocarbon technologies is another area of focus with the goal of eradicating 130 million tonnes of carbon emissions. Another focus area of the programme is to divert 94 per cent of rubbish that now goes to landfill.

Both initiatives are testament to the kingdom’s desire to address the environmental challenges it has faced, and are part of its efforts to promote public health and raise the quality of life for its citizens and residents.

They build on efforts to protect the planet made during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 summit last year, in which a dedicated environmental declaration was issued and the concept of a circular carbon economy adopted.

The first environmental task force was also established, alongside two global initiatives, to reduce land degradation and protect coral reefs.

Updated: September 03, 2021, 6:22 AM