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UN official applauds Saudi green initiative to tackle effects of climate change

RIYADH: The United Nations Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia praised the Kingdom on Tuesday for stepping up its commitment to the environment by launching initiatives to combat the devastating effects of climate change.

In his opening remarks at Riyadh Blue Talk, an event organized by the UNRC office and the embassies of Portugal and Kenya to raise awareness about the oceans ahead of the 2022 UN Ocean Conference to be held in Lisbon next month, Nathalie Fustier said:

“In recent years, Saudi Arabia has strengthened its commitment to the environment and last year launched the Middle East and Saudi Green Initiatives aimed at combating some of the devastating effects of climate change. Recently, the Saudi government announced the establishment of the Red Sea Authority, a new body to protect coral reefs and sea turtles in the Red Sea.

“Saudi Arabia has over 2,000 km of coastline, the longest in the region, with 30% of the Kingdom’s population living within 100 km of a coast. This immense coastline is home to various marine ecosystems and forms the basis of the future blue economy of the Kingdom.

“Given the valuable contributions and efforts that Saudi Arabia has made to the conservation of the marine environment at the national, regional and global levels, we are pleased to bring together stakeholders from government, private sector, society civil society, universities, regional and international organizations to exchange knowledge and solutions and build partnerships to solve pressing problems.

The environment is a priority for the UN and the Kingdom. The UN in Saudi Arabia supports the Kingdom in its progress towards achieving the Sustainable Development Goals and the UN Vision 2030, she added.

“We are working on a five-year development cooperation framework with the government that has a strong focus on the ‘planet’. We have also created a dedicated Environment, Natural Resources and Climate Advisory Working Group within the UNCT (United Nations Country Team) to strengthen internal UN coordination and improve support to the government in the field of (the) environment.

The UN secretary-general firmly believed that solutions were possible and that current trends could be reversed to bring dramatic improvements to the environment, she said.

“With this optimism in mind, I look forward to learning more and hope that the discussions here will inform the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon and create new ways of working towards an effective solution to better preserve our oceans.”

Speaking at the Blue Talk in Riyadh, Dr. Osama Faqeeha, Saudi Deputy Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, said: “Saudi Vision 2030 plays a pivotal role (by) expressing a deep conviction that economic development and prosperity cannot be complete without environmental protection and social development.”

In 2016, the Ministry of Environment approved a national strategy which included a comprehensive assessment of all environmental challenges and opportunities and an increased focus on environmental protection.

This was followed by a complete restructuring of institutions working in the environmental sector, culminating in the National Center for Environmental Compliance.

It has also enabled the National Waste Management Center to accelerate work in the Kingdom towards a circular economy, maximizing recycling, minimizing waste generation, maximizing waste utilization and reducing waste diversion. to landfills.

The National Center for the Fight against Desertification responds to national issues related to plant cover. Saudi Arabia also has a national wildlife center and a national metrology center to tackle climate and environmental issues.

Peter Thomson, the UN Secretary-General’s special envoy for the ocean, said: “The health (of) the ocean is vital for all of us. Just consider the fact that over 50% of the planet’s oxygen is produced in the ocean. That’s why my daily mantra is: “No healthy planet without a healthy ocean. And the health of the ocean is measurably declining.

“We can stop the decline in ocean health by 2022 and we got off to a great start with the consensus agreement at the UNEA (United Nations Environment Assembly) in Nairobi in February to start work on a treaty global binding to end plastic pollution.

“We must build on this positive momentum by ending harmful fisheries subsidies at the WTO Ministerial in Geneva, adopting the 30 by 30 target at the biodiversity COP in Kunming , and when we gather in Sharm el-Sheikh in November for COP27, moving the climate finance needle decisively in the direction of the sustainable blue economy.

“The flagship opportunity for 2022 will be the UN Ocean Conference in Lisbon, in support of the implementation of SDG14. There, we will launch a large fleet of science-based solutions, heavily fueled by innovation and partnerships.

Riyadh Blue Talk organized two round tables.

One concerned the management, protection, conservation and restoration of marine and coastal ecosystems. It was moderated by the Portuguese Ambassador Nuno Mathias. The other concerned the increase of scientific knowledge and the development of research capacities and the transfer of marine technologies. This was moderated by Kenyan Ambassador Peter Nicholas Ogego.

Riyadh Blue Talk is part of a global action initiative to raise awareness about the ocean.

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