World Economic Forum Mena 2019: Abu Dhabi climate talks will focus on health and youth, Environment Minister says

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi says UAE will be pushing for more action

Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the United Arab Emirates speaking during the Session "Press Conference: Meet the Co-chairs " at the King Hussein Bin Talal Convention Centre before World Economic Forum on the Middle East and North Africa 2019. Copyright by World Economic Forum / Jakob Polacsek
Powered by automated translation

The future impact on the region’s health and youth will be the focus of critical United Nations discussions on the global threat of climate change being held in Abu Dhabi this summer, the UAE’s environment minister said.

In June, the UAE will host the preparatory conference for the UN 2019 Climate Summit (Cop25).

“We want to make sure we are moving on climate actions. We are going to have a clear roadmap on implementation… we are going to focus on the interlinkages between climate change and health and climate change and the youth because we want to make sure it is a sustainable system,” Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said on Saturday at the World Economic Forum meeting at the Dead Sea in Jordan.

About 1,000 business and government leaders have gathered in Jordan this weekend to craft a response to some of the most critical issues facing the Middle East and North Africa including climate change.

Among those present is Antonio Guterres, secretary general of the United Nations. He told the Forum on Saturday that the Middle East and North Africa will "face some of the worst impacts" from climate change, especially "water stress".

"It is a race against time but it is a race we can win" if all work together, Mr Guterres said.

The agenda, recommendations and draft resolutions for the Climate Summit in September will be developed at the Abu Dhabi meeting.

This will be the second time the UAE hosts a preparatory meeting ahead of the main conference. The UAE hosted the meeting in 2014 at which some of the foundations for the Paris Agreement of 2015 were laid.

“In 2014, we started the movement of the negotiation from legal discussions to [being] more action-orientated and this is what we saw in the Paris Agreement,” the minister said.

In Paris, at COP 21, countries agreed to take actions to keep the global temperature rise this century well below 2 degrees Celsius. This requires providing financial resources, a new technology framework and enhanced transparency.

As part of its nationally defined contributions under the Paris Agreement, the UAE has pledged to place sustainability at the core of policymaking.

"The UAE is known as a hydrocarbon region ... but we have a plan to diversify," Dr Al Zeyoudi said.

The opportunity is huge for the region, especially for solar, he said, and the UAE has ambitious targets and a plan to meet them. The minister highlighted the UAE's efforts on investment and applying the latest technology towards the problem, as well as working to change behaviours and using resources wisely.

He was speaking at a press conference held by the Forum’s meeting co-chairs on the theme “Building New Platforms for Co-operation”.

Also at the press conference were Wafa Ben-Hassine of Access Now, Tony Chan, the president of Saudi Arabia’s King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST) and Alain Bejjani, chief executive of Majid Al Futtaim Holding.