Saudi Arabia joins UNESCO marine heritage conference

UNESCO is headquartered in Paris and has around 2,000 staff worldwide. (AFP)
Updated 09 September 2019

Saudi Arabia joins UNESCO marine heritage conference

  • Minister of Culture Prince Badr: We are committed to preserving our marine heritage

GLACIER BAY, ALASKA: Delegates from Saudi Arabia participated in UNESCO 4th World Heritage marine site managers conference at Glacier Bay National Park, Alaska, US.
The conference coincides with the announcement of the French Austral Island Park (Kerguelen Islands, France) in the Southern Ocean as the 50th addition to the Marine World Heritage Sites list. UNESCO representatives and other participants gathered to share their experiences and improve their capacity to conserve these sites and enhance their resilience to climate change.
Saudi Arabia, a member of UNESCO’s World Heritage Convention, took part for the first time at this conference with a delegation led by the Ministry of Culture and experts and representatives from the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Vision 2030, giga-projects (NEOM and the Red Sea Project) and King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST).
The Ministry of Culture said that its sponsorship of the UNESCO conference demonstrated its commitment to supporting international efforts to protect sites and safeguard the world’s natural wonders.
The Kingdom is taking steps to develop cutting-edge technology and engage world-class expertise to present the Red Sea coral reefs and adjoining ecosystem as a model to other similar environments across the world. Global attention is now focusing on the corals of the northern Red Sea as evidence of their resistance to climate change becomes clear, providing hope for coral reefs in other places around the world.
Given the importance of Red Sea coral reefs and other marine ecosystems in Saudi Arabia, the Ministry of Culture is working closely with UNESCO — the Kingdom has been a member of the World Heritage Convention since 1978 — to seek protected status for Red Sea coral reefs and other Red Sea marine heritage sites, and Marine World Heritage status to preserve them for future generations.
During the opening speech, the Ministry of Culture delivered a message from Prince Badr bin Abdullah Al-Saud, the Saudi Minister of Culture: “There is strong evidence that our coral reefs in the Red Sea will prove to be the most resilient to climate change. That makes them globally important. Our natural environment is vital for the health and viability of our planet, and also vital for the future of Saudi Arabia, which is why we are committed to working together to conserve and protect marine environment.”

FASTFACT

The Kingdom is taking steps to develop cutting-edge technology and engage world-class expertise to present the Red Sea coral reefs and adjoining eco system as a model to other similar environments across the world.

Fanny Douvere, coordinator of the World Heritage Marine Program, welcomed the contribution of the Kingdom: “The 50 UNESCO Marine World Heritage Sites currently listed are the jewels of the ocean but face multiple challenges. The support of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is crucial in distilling solutions across these sites, learning from experiences to avoid costly mistakes, and, together, charting the course forward to accelerate the achievement of the UN 2030 Sustainable Development Goals.”
The Saudi delegation said that the Kingdom’s commitment to the preservation of global heritage was a building block as it prepares to be the center of global attention when it hosts the G20 summit in 2020.
Marine heritage is a priority for the Ministry of Culture. It sits within the “natural heritage” sector — one of 16 sectors that the ministry has prioritized, as outlined in the ministry’s “cultural vision” launched earlier this year.
The Kingdom’s presence and support in providing technical knowledge and expertise to UNESCO’s Marine World Heritage Program is consistent with the priorities of the Ministry of Culture, MEWA, and more broadly, with those of Vision 2030.


Saudi labor minister urges Kingdom to increase economic role of charity sector

Updated 56 min 5 sec ago

Saudi labor minister urges Kingdom to increase economic role of charity sector

  • Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi said: “Our effort is to increase the share of the non-profit sector in GDP”

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia needed to increase the contribution of the non-profit sector to the Kingdom’s economic and social development, the country’s labor minister told business conference delegates on Thursday.

Moderating a session on the subject during the final day of the Riyadh Economic Forum (REF), Saudi Minister of Labor and Social Development Ahmad Al-Rajhi said: “Our effort is to increase the share of the non-profit sector in GDP.”

Describing the non-profit sector as the third pillar of sustainable economic development, the minister pointed out that in developed countries its average contribution toward GDP had reached 6 percent.

Referring to a REF study on the sector, he noted that it was only during the last decade that the Kingdom had come to realize its important role in economic development, social participation, job creation, and promoting the culture of teamwork.

“The non-profit sector contributes to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by one percent and our effort is to increase the share,” Al-Rajhi told the session’s attendees.

Presenting the REF study, Yousef bin Othman Al-Huzeim, secretary-general of Al-Anoud Charitable Foundation, said: “This sector, together with its substantial developmental roles, has become a criterion for the overall progress of nations and a yardstick of their civilization and humanitarian activity rather than a mere indicator of individuals’ income.”

He added that the sector had a key part to play in helping to realize the Saudi Vision 2030 goal of achieving sustainable development through diversification, and that the aim was to raise its level of contribution to the country’s GDP from 1 percent to 5 percent by 2030.

The study stressed the need to transform the sector from a mere initiative into an institutional entity concerned with social investment and integration, in cooperation with the public and private sectors.

Among its key findings, the study highlighted the requirement to increase the awareness of sector employees and supervising agencies about the development needs of society.

A lack of detailed information on the non-profit sector in the Kingdom was also having a negative effect on the extent of its contribution to economic and social development, the study found.

The media too had failed to give enough coverage to the sector and rules and regulations often stood in the way of any expansion in individual and community partnerships through charities and trusts.

Princess Nouf bint Mohammed Al-Saud, CEO of the King Khalid Foundation (KKF), said women were the most important enablers of the non-profit sector.

Currently, the most prominent development was the system of NGOs and philanthropic associations, and the stimulation of the sector to implement good governance, she added.

The princess urged the lifting of restrictions on money transfers to the non-profit sector and tax exemptions on charities and donations.

The KKF had issued a number of regulations to help the non-profit sector, she said, but there was still a need for the creation of more executive programs in order to realize Vision 2030 goals.

Rajaa bin Manahi Al-Marzouqi, a professor of economics at Prince Saud Al-Faisal Institute for Diplomatic Studies, in Riyadh, said: “If we look at any economy, it consists of three important sectors, which are the government, private, and non-profit sectors. There is a need to develop the non-profit sector in such a way that it sustains in the long run and contributes to socio-economic development.”