RIYADH: The International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies begins in Riyadh on Sunday under the patronage of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
It is organized by the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification and being held at the Riyadh International Convention and Exhibition Center, in coordination with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture.
Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Abdulrahman Al-Fadley said the National Environment Strategy was a roadmap to realizing the aspirations of the Saudi Vision 2030 regarding the protection and development of the environment.
He highlighted the crown prince’s efforts to promote vegetation cover locally, regionally, and internationally through ambitious plans including the Saudi Green Initiative, the Middle East Green Initiative, the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation, and the International Coral Reef Initiative.
The last two initiatives were included in the declaration of environment ministers during Saudi Arabia’s presidency of the G20 in 2020.
Last October, the crown prince announced two initiatives worth SR39 billion ($10.39 billion) to combat climate change, to which Saudi Arabia will contribute about 15 percent of the entire cost.
The Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative aim to plant 10 billion trees.
Nearly 150 different activities will be offered at the International Exhibition and Forum on Afforestation Technologies, with participation from international and local agencies, the government, the commercial sector, and environmental nonprofit groups.
Around 90 experts on environmental, climate, sustainability and investment issues from around 20 countries and global organizations will also attend.
There will be 19 dialogue sessions, workshops, over 50 scientific papers, and approximately 80 exhibitors showcasing their goods, ideas, and innovations.
These represent the most recent technological successes in combating desertification and minimizing its impact, developing and protecting vegetation cover, and the most recent advances in experimentation, research, and scientific studies.
The exhibition covers topics such as nurseries, seeds, afforestation and technologies, land rehabilitation and desertification, irrigation technologies, forest management and development, water sources and technologies, environmental solutions in plant carbon storage, pest control, and agricultural waste management.
The National Center for the Development of Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification works to protect and control vegetation cover sites throughout the Kingdom, rehabilitate degraded ones, detect encroachment, combat deforestation, and supervise the management and investment of pasture lands, forests, and national parks, which promotes sustainable environmental development and contributes to achieving the objectives of the Saudi Green Initiative.
Experts told Arab News that these investments were critical for meeting global targets for environmental protection, climate change control, and mitigating the effects of greenhouse emissions.
Dr. Amal Aldaej, an international relations and strategic partnership adviser, said the Saudi Green Initiative was considered to be the biggest initiative for accelerating the Kingdom’s path toward a healthy, clean and green future.
“The initiative will also help in reducing carbon emissions and sandstorms, combating desertification and land degradation, as well as lowering the temperature (it) will also help in restoring the degraded ecosystems across the country and improve the natural capital,” she said.
She added that the Saudi Green Initiative would connect communities to a higher-level policy and technical and financial assistance that would have a great impact socially and economically.
She stressed that regional alliances would play a crucial role in coping with climate change and global warming challenges. Through regional alliances and joint efforts to redress climate change, adaptation and mitigation could play a vital role in investing and ensuring sustainability.
Aldaej pointed out that there was a strong link between climate change and sustainable development through regional alliances. Poor and developing countries, particularly least-developed countries, would be among those most adversely affected and least able to cope with the anticipated shocks to their social, economic, and natural systems which would lead to cross-border climatic issues.
“Climate change and global warming issues can affect the countries of the region and can lead toward other regions as well. The sustainable goals can only be achieved through regional alliances by investing and ensuring sustainability through joint efforts.”
Environmental activist Talal S. Al-Rasheed emphasized the “importance of activating the role of community organizations” in achieving this.
Al-Rasheed, a consultant at Gulf Energy for Environmental Consultations, said the Saudi Green Initiative and Middle East Green Initiative highlighted the importance of land conservation and the Kingdom’s leadership position in contributing to global goals.
Saudi Arabia faces numerous environmental issues, including high temperatures of 52 degrees Celsius in some parts of the country and a lack of rain, which threatens water security and increases sandstorms and their detrimental economic impact.
Al-Rasheed said the ministry prioritized community participation in cultivating local plants to raise environmental awareness.