'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world

'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world
Workers plant trees next to a highway in the Saudi capital Riyadh. (Getty)
Short Url
Updated 20 October 2021

'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world

'SGI signals a new era for mankind': How the Saudi Green Initiative Forum could change the world
  • "We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment," says Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman

Since the early part of the last century, the image and fortunes of Saudi Arabia have been inextricably linked to a single element. The discovery and exploitation of oil transformed life in the KSA and positioned the country front and center in the petrol-driven global economy.

But times have changed over the last two decades. There is a recognition that oil and its derivatives, such as plastic and petrochemicals, are a primary cause of global warming, pollution and environmental catastrophe. In the KSA, air pollution from greenhouse gases shortens life expectancy by 1.5 years, while desertification and dust storms cause $13 billion of damage per year.

This bleak picture is a wake-up call, triggering a seismic shift across the world, away from carbon-sourced energy and hyper-consumption towards a cleaner and more sustainable way of life.

An energy leader for decades, the KSA is now positioning itself at the vanguard of environmental action. This effort is encapsulated in the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) – a national program to combat pollution and land degradation, increase vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions and preserve marine life.

“The Kingdom fully recognizes its share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis. Just as the Kingdom underpinned energy markets during the oil and gas era, it is going to become a global leader in forging a greener world,” says Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman, patron of the SGI.

Having introduced the concept of the Circular Carbon Economy (a closed-loop system involving ‘4Rs’: reduce, reuse, recycle and remove) during its presidency of the G20 summit last year, Saudi Arabia is again taking a leadership role by hosting the forthcoming SGI Forum, to be held in Riyadh on 23-24 November.

The forum will, in its own words, “catalyze climate action in a regionally and internationally coordinated manner . . . bring together heads of state, public officials, business leaders, academic pioneers and environmental specialists. . . and drive action and spark innovative solutions to help tackle climate change.”

The event will help to define a road map that seeks to rally the Gulf region and contribute to agreed global targets by confronting climate change, increasing the use of clean energy, offsetting the impact of fossil fuels and protecting the environment.

The SGI is hugely ambitious. Ten billion trees are to be planted in the Kingdom over the next decade, rehabilitating some 40 million hectares of degraded land and bringing about a 12-fold increase from current tree covers. This is equal to four percent of the global initiative to limit the degradation of land, and one percent of the target to plant one trillion trees globally.

The percentage of protected areas in Saudi Arabia will reach over 30 percent of total land – about 600,000 square kilometers — exceeding the global target of 17 percent. Carbon emissions will be reduced by 130 million tons brought about by a plan to generate 50 percent of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030; and landfills – where 95 percent of waste is currently deposited — will be reduced to only five percent of waste.

In fact, the very notion of ‘garbage’ will become largely a thing of the past, as every form of waste becomes the raw material for a value-added product or energy source, in what is a key part of the ‘circular economy’ concept.

The SGI will work in tandem with the broader Middle East Green Initiative, which includes all GCC states along with other regional countries. The overall goal is to plant 50 billion trees across the Middle East — the largest reforestation program in the world, restoring 200 million hectares of degraded land. Carbon emissions from the region are to be reduced by over 60 percent, equal to more than 10 percent of the intended global reduction.

While Saudi citizens are used to a comfortable life of big cars and disposable products, it is clear that the SGI is already having a profound cultural impact.

“I think the SGI will open up a whole new era for mankind,” Ziyad Al Shiha, chief executive of the Saudi Investment Recycling Company, a leading agency in the circular economy, told Arab News.

“We're at a turning point now and it’s part of a major shift in the world economy. We are putting investment on the ground, working with corporations, small and medium-sized enterprises and with individuals — anything that will contribute to the circular economy.”

The greening of Saudi Arabia will involve changes to the daily lives of ordinary people, and an entirely new mindset. It will be young people, in particular, who forge a new path away from the habits of the past few decades.

“The SGI is an initiative by our government for a greener future for Saudi and the Middle East,” Fatimah Ahmad, a young Saudi professional translator, told Arab News.

She added: “The KSA is taking the lead to protect tomorrow from the climate change crisis. It’s one of the Vision 2030 projects I am personally excited about. It’s an ambitious, wild dream and I am sure it will come true very soon.”

Cynical voices might say that the decline of the oil era, and the global transition to a greener way of life, will have a detrimental effect upon the economy and standard of living in Saudi Arabia.

But Crown Prince Mohammed Bin Salman has a more positive outlook. “We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment,” he declared when launching the SGI in March.

He added: “Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation, and create millions of high-quality jobs. Young people, both in the Kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner, greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.”

The SGI Forum will no doubt generate more ideas, greater awareness and practical solutions in the drive towards a sustainable future in Saudi Arabia and across the world.


SAMI launches JV with French firm to build aerostructure components in Kingdom

SAMI launches JV with French firm to build aerostructure components in Kingdom
Updated 04 December 2021

SAMI launches JV with French firm to build aerostructure components in Kingdom

SAMI launches JV with French firm to build aerostructure components in Kingdom

JEDDAH: The Saudi Arabian Military Industries, a wholly owned subsidiary of the Public Investment Fund, on Saturday launched a joint venture with French company Figeac Aero and the Saudi Arabian Industrial Investments Co., Dussur, to build a high-precision manufacturing facility in the Kingdom to produce aerostructure components, SAMI said on Saturday.

The company said that the joint venture’s revenue would reach $200 million by 2030 and the ownership would be divided among the two countries. Fifty-one percent would be owned by Saudi Arabia and 49 percent by France.

SAMI also signed an agreement with Airbus to form a joint project specialized in military aviation services and maintenance, the statement said. As per the deal, the Kingdom would own 51 percent of the joint venture with the European planemaker holding the other 49 percent.

 


Egypt to increase cotton gins capacity, says official report

Egypt to increase cotton gins capacity, says official report
Updated 04 December 2021

Egypt to increase cotton gins capacity, says official report

Egypt to increase cotton gins capacity, says official report

RIYADH: Egypt aims to increase cotton gins capacity to 4.4 million kantars annually up from 1.5 million kantars, according to a government report issued on Saturday.

A kantar is the official Egyptian weight unit for measuring cotton. It corresponds to the US hundredweight, and is roughly equal to 99.05 pounds, or 45.02 kg. It is equal to either 157 kg of seed cotton or 50 kg of lint cotton.

The Egyptian government is trying to breath a new life into the country’s textile industry, which contributes almost 3 percent to the gross domestic product, employs one-third of the industrial labor and generates exports worth $2.6 billion annually. 

According to reports, the country’s cotton production rose by 30 percent during 2021.

Egypt increased the cultivated area this year to 236,000 feddans (one feddan equals 1.038 acres or 0.42 hectare) compared to 182,000 feddans last year.

In its annual report on Egypt’s cotton on March 31, 2021, the US Department of Agriculture said that “cotton area harvested in Egypt was forecast to increase seven percent to 70,000 hectares (ha), from 65,000 ha in MY 2020/21.” It added that Egypt’s production is estimated to increase to 250,000 bales this year compared to 215,000 bales in the previous year.


Bitcoin falls by a fifth, cryptos see $1bn worth liquidated

Bitcoin falls by a fifth, cryptos see $1bn worth liquidated
Updated 04 December 2021

Bitcoin falls by a fifth, cryptos see $1bn worth liquidated

Bitcoin falls by a fifth, cryptos see $1bn worth liquidated

NEW YORK: Bitcoin shed a fifth of its value on Saturday as a combination of profit-taking and macro-economic concerns triggered nearly a billion dollars worth of selling across cryptocurrencies.

Bitcoin was 12 percent down at 0920 GMT at $47,495. It fell as low as $41,967.5 during the session, taking total losses for the day to 22 percent.

The broad selloff in cryptocurrencies also saw ether, the coin linked to the ethereum blockchain network, plunge more than 10 percent.

Based on cryptocurrency data platform Coingecko, the market capitalization of the 11,392 coins it tracks dropped nearly 15 percent to $2.34 trillion. That value had briefly crossed $3 trillion last month, when bitcoin hit a record $69,000.

The plunge follows a volatile week for financial markets. Global equities and benchmark US bond yields tumbled on Friday after data showed US job growth slowed in November and the omicron variant of the coronavirus kept investors on edge.

Justin d'Anethan, Hong Kong-based head of exchange sales at cryptocurrency exchange EQONEX, said he had been watching the increase in leverage ratios across the cryptocurrency markets as well how large holders had been moving their coins from wallets to exchanges. The latter is usually a sign of intent to sell.

“Whales in the crypto space seem to have transferred coins to trading venue, taken advantage of a bullish bias and leverage from retail traders, to then push prices down,” he said.

The selloff also comes ahead of testimony by executives from eight major cryptocurrency firms, including Coinbase Global CFO Alesia Haas and FTX Trading CEO Sam Bankman-Fried, before the US House Financial Services Committee on Dec. 8.

The hearing marks the first time major players in the crypto markets will testify before US lawmakers, as policymakers grapple with the implications of cryptocurrencies and how to best regulate them.

Last week, the US Securities and Exchange Commission (SEC) rejected a second spot-bitcoin exchange-traded fund proposal from WisdomTree.

Data from another platform Coinglass showed nearly $1 billion worth of cryptocurrencies had been liquidated over the past 24 hours, with the bulk being on digital exchange Bitfinex.

A plunge in bitcoin funding rates — the cost of holding bitcoin via perpetual futures which peaked at 0.06 percent in October — also showed traders had turned bearish.

The funding rate on cryptocurrency trading platform BitMEX fell to a negative 0.18 percent from levels of 0.01 percent for most of November.


Saudi, French firms sign 27 MoUs as Macron visits the Kingdom

Saudi, French firms sign 27 MoUs as Macron visits the Kingdom
Updated 38 min 50 sec ago

Saudi, French firms sign 27 MoUs as Macron visits the Kingdom

Saudi, French firms sign 27 MoUs as Macron visits the Kingdom

JEDDAH: A group of leading Saudi and French companies signed 27 memorandum of understanding at an investment forum in Jeddah as French President Emmanuel Macron met with Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman today during his official trip to the Gulf region, where he is visiting Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Qatar between Dec. 3 and 4.

Around 101 Saudi companies and 84 French companies attended six workshops at the forum, which was opened by Khalid Al Falih, Minister of Investment, Saudi Arabia and Franck Riester, Minister Delegate for Foreign Trade and Economic Attractiveness.

"The memorandums of understanding signed today were a cause for optimism and satisfaction," Al Falih said in a tweet after the event.

Represenatives of French companies and banks including EDF Renewables, Engie, Sanofi, and BNP Paribas are meeting with chairmen and CEOs of leading Saudi firms including ACWA Power, Banque Saudi Fransi, Riyad Bank, and Saudi Military Industries Co. Officials from the Public Investment Fund and Royal Commission of AlUla among others are also participating in the forum. 

 

Below is the agenda for the one-day forum:  


Saudi Arabia to start mandatory e-invoicing first phase on Dec. 4

Saudi Arabia to start mandatory e-invoicing first phase on Dec. 4
Updated 03 December 2021

Saudi Arabia to start mandatory e-invoicing first phase on Dec. 4

Saudi Arabia to start mandatory e-invoicing first phase on Dec. 4

RIYADH: Saudi Arabia will start implementing the mandatory application of the first phase of e-invoicing “fatoorah” on Saturday Dec. 4, Argaam reported.

An e-invoice, according to regulations, is a tax invoice that is issued electronically by each taxpayer subject to value-added tax in the Kingdom

The first phase requirements consist of ensuring that there is a technical e-invoicing solution compatible with the relevant requirements. This means no handwritten invoices or invoices written through text editors or number analysis applications on computers.

A fine of SR5,000 ($1,332) will be applied for not issuing and saving the invoices electronically.

The fine for not including the QR Code in the e-invoice and not reporting any malfunction in the issuing of the e-invoice to the authority starts with a warning. The fine for violating the deletion or modification of e-invoice starts from SR10,000.

The second phase of e-invoicing will be implemented in a phased manner, starting from January 1, 2023, to establish integration between e-systems of taxpayers and the authority’s regulations, Argaam said.