Gathering in Riyadh, environmental experts search for radical solution to desertification

Updated 26 April 2018
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Gathering in Riyadh, environmental experts search for radical solution to desertification

  • A number of researchers in desertification stressed the need to find sustainable solutions for agriculture
  • Desertification in the Kingdom has reached 80 percent

RIYADH: International experts on the environment continued the search for ways to tackle desertification at the International Workshop on Combating Desertification, organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in Riyadh.

A number of researchers in desertification stressed the need to find sustainable solutions for agriculture, identify the obstacles and work on a plan to restore land with the participation of all relevant sectors and the strong leadership necessary to overcome challenges.

More than 45 percent of land worldwide is affected by desertification and more than 90 percent of water is evaporating. Environmental experts stressed the need to take an interest in aquaculture, which had been proved to have a beneficial effect through research.

With global average temperatures expected to rise by more than two degrees Celsius a year, climate change will exacerbate the problem of water and food scarcity that costs the world $1.6 trillion annually.

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture figures show that desertification in the Kingdom has reached 80 percent, which is alarmingly high. 

Experts agreed solutions require hard work, being on site immediately so that government and non-government bodies can carry out their work, cooperating to restore the green lands and using water desalination techniques efficiently and treating wastewater.

Anthony Miller, director of the Center for Middle Eastern Plants at the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, said the plant life in the eastern and northern regions of the Kingdom is weak, while in the western and southern regions it is strong but needs more attention in order to grow better.

A Food and Agriculture Organization expert said the rate of desertification is increasing alarmingly. She confirmed that most of the lands in the Arab world are either already affected by desertification or threatened by it, due to human and climatic factors.


Saudi Arabia highlights the importance of the implementation of the UN Vision 2030

Updated 39 min 22 sec ago
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Saudi Arabia highlights the importance of the implementation of the UN Vision 2030

  • Saudi Arabia affirms the importance of preserving natural resources and putting great attention to environmental issues
  • Saudi Arabia is keen to preserve and protect them and ensure that they are not affected by the urban and industrial renaissance in the Kingdom

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia’s permanent delegation to the United Nations said that the Kingdom puts great importance to the implementation of the UN Vision 2030’s goals encompassing the economic, social and environmental fronts.

This was stated in the speech delivered by the First Secretary Bandar Al-Nahdi during the general debate on Agenda 21, a UN action plan on sustainable development, at the 73rd session of the General Assembly of the United Nations.

Al-Nahdi said that Saudi Arabia affirms the importance of preserving natural resources and putting great attention to environmental issues.

It is keen to preserve and protect them and ensure that they are not affected by the urban and industrial renaissance in the Kingdom, he said in his speech.

“Saudi Arabia believes that the preservation and development of the environment lie in finding new modern technologies, reducing pollution, fighting desertification and optimizing the use of water resources (both treated and renewable water),” Al-Nahdi said. “The plan also includes a complete protection of shores, reserves and islands, in a way that everyone would have access to them.”

He pointed out that King Salman has issued a royal order to establish the Royal Protected Areas Council under the chairmanship of Crown Prince Mohamed bin Salman. The council will have authority over six reserves in the Kingdom, and would be made accessible to citizens and residents without walls or barriers.

Al-Nahdi said that the Kingdom also supports international efforts to combat desertification.

He added that the Kingdom has launched two initiatives for the sustainable development of forests and rangeland, and organized investments in these areas, to fight desertification through planting 4 million trees and providing 6 million plantlets. It also rehabilitated 60,000 hectares of agricultural land and pastures. Meanwhile, over the next four years more than 100 sites and 24 national parks will be developed.

Al-Nahdi also referred to the report of the UN Secretary-General – “Oil slick on the Lebanese shores” – and said that Saudi Arabia shared the concern of the UN as Israel continued to ignore all international resolutions urging it to take responsibility for the environmental catastrophe caused when its military forces targeted oil storage tanks in the Lebanese shores.

“This has engendered a devastating environmental impact. It is not surprising to see this coming from a state that always disregards all international laws, decisions and treaties, and continues to occupy the land of Palestine and the Arab Golan,” he said.

Al-Nahdi stressed that the Kingdom was always keen on cooperating with international organizations and countries that believed in collective work to achieve the best.

He said that Saudi Arabia would also support efforts to protect and preserve the environment, including risk-reduction measures for natural disasters that threaten our world.