COLOMBO: Sri Lanka has congratulated Saudi Arabia on its Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives and called for regional cooperation to tackle the environmental challenges facing Saudi Arabia and the wider region.
Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced at the end of March the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives, which aim to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent and plant 50 billion trees in the world’s biggest afforestation project.
“Sri Lanka would keenly follow the ambitious projects designed to reduce carbon emissions in the region by 60 percent and the initiatives (aimed at preserving) marine and coastal environments, the latter being much closer to our heart as an island nation,” the Sri Lankan Ministry of Foreign Affairs said in a statement on Saturday, as it expressed the country’s willingness to cooperate with the Kingdom on climate issues.
“Sri Lanka would express its support to Saudi Arabia and is looking forward to working with the Kingdom in our common approach to deal with climate change,” the statement said.
Justice Minister Ali Sabry said the initiative by the Saudi crown prince “would set the road for sustainable development in keeping with environmental values.”
Experts also welcomed the Saudi projects.
“This is one idea I dreamt of when serving in Gulf Cooperation Council countries such as Kuwait, KSA, Bahrain, the UAE, Oman and Jordan,” Seyed Abdul Cader Mohammed Zuhyle, former Sri Lankan ambassador to Kuwait and Bahrain, told Arab News.
“The large extent of land could be converted into greeneries with careful planning and execution,” he said. “Thousands of hectares of land are available to be brought under this initiative.”
Dr. Hameed Mohammed Rafeek, a former president of the Sri Lankan Expats Society in Jeddah who has worked for three decades in Saudi Arabia, told Arab News that Saudi Arabia’s green initiatives should be supported by the global community, including Sri Lanka.
“Sri Lanka should consider extending its support for and cooperation with this initiative,” he said. “It is blessed with a rich natural environment and possesses expertise in virtually every area. It thus has the potential to share its experience.”