Where there’s a blue ocean there’s life, where there’s the Red Sea there’s hope
The ocean covers 70 percent of the Earth’s surface and is home to 80 percent of all life. It nurtures incredible biodiversity and produces energy resources, food, and economic prospects.
We are yet to learn about sustainably managing the planet’s largest biosphere, and initiatives like the UN Ocean Conference, held in Portugal, undoubtedly present an invaluable platform to further our understanding.
Saudi Arabia’s historic participation in the conference, under the banner of “Blue Saudi,” demonstrated a resilient ambition to advance local and global collaboration. It realized significant synergies with leading industry players and drove positive progress in line with the United Nations Sustainable Development Goal 14: Life below water.
These goals are well aligned with Vision 2030, a transformative economic and social reform blueprint underpinned by a genuine commitment to sustainable progress.
However, what was most awe-inspiring to witness was how the country stood as a testament to prioritizing the health and well-being of natural ecosystems that surround our great nation, including the crown jewel of the Kingdom, the Red Sea.
Although the world’s warmest and saltiest body of water, the Red Sea is home to some of the world’s most thriving marine ecosystems and unique underwater habitats, including extensive coral reef banks and a narrow, deep central axis as large as the Great Barrier Reef.
These vibrant underwater worlds are vital to advancing marine education, protection, and regeneration. In addition, they serve as crucial grounds for extensive research initiatives that, in turn, inspire public and private sectors to continue their collective commitments toward conserving life below the water.
The conservation could be achieved by developing technologies that enable biodiversity to flourish, such as innovative solutions to help expand coral habitats or empowering local communities to reap the benefits of sustainable development and the blue economy.
The Kingdom stands steadfast in its ambition to leverage the full potential of the blue economy actively. Several key commitments are already in place to increase marine protected areas to 30 percent and plant 100 million mangroves by 2030.
Meanwhile, concepts such as sustainable food production and blue natural capital are stepping into the mainstream to provide low-carbon sustenance.
Consequently, The Red Sea Development Co. is committed to mitigating climate change and enhancing biodiversity. Our ambition is to deliver a 30 percent net conservation benefit by 2040 by regenerating critical ecosystems such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, and seagrass meadows. In doing so, we aim to demonstrate that tourism can indeed be a force for good.
Admittedly, leveraging the full benefits of the blue economy requires hard work and innovation. Delivering a real, positive impact is not a feat that can be achieved overnight. But along with the environmental benefits, the expansion of the associated industries will be an exciting chapter to witness in the Kingdom’s journey to a diversified economy.
By exporting national scientific learnings and successful applications of innovative solutions to the rest of the world, I am confident that the Kingdom can rise to the challenge of the blue economy and confront some of the biggest challenges facing people and the planet today.
• Abdullah Alzahrani is Executive Director of Branding & Marketing at TRSDC.