RIYADH: The Saudi-instigated Middle East Green Initiative summit has been hailed a turning point in the region’s battle against climate change, as Gulf country leaders met in Egypt.
Held alongside the UN’s Climate Change Conference — COP27 — the second MGI summit saw figures from the Middle East and beyond meet face-to-face to discuss how to tackle the growing environmental challenges.
UK Foreign Secretary James Cleverly said the impact of climate change was already evident across the Middle East, citing “dust storms across the gulf, the fires in Algeria, and the floods in Lebanon.”
“All of this in a region already dangerously vulnerable to extreme weather,” he added.
Reflecting on the role the MGI is playing in the fight against climate change, he said: “Because of the green initiatives, the future looks safer and a little brighter.”
Kuwait’s Crown Prince Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah said his country plans to become carbon neutral by 2050, and will carry out new projects to increase green spaces by afforestation, increasing cover, and establishing natural reserves.
“The launch of the Middle East Green Initiative Summit by Saudi Arabia is significant due to the fact that it marks a turning point in climate action for the middle east region as It serves also as a foundation for regional cooperation,” Al-Sabah said.
“The Green Middle East Initiative achieves many aspirations regionally and internationally,” he added.
Kuwait is also dedicated to collaborating with the UN to implement environmental projects to deal with climate challenges, according to Al-Sabah.
Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi used his speech at the summit to encourage Arab countries to seize the opportunities for technical and financial collaboration presented by the initiative.
“The Arab region is suffering more than others from the negative impacts of climate change in the quality of agricultural lands, fertility of the soil, the increase in temperature, and the phenomenon of droughts and floods,” El-Sisi said.
He added that Arab nations have taken necessary steps toward tacjling climate change and that Egypt has already begun a huge transition into renewable energy whether through solar or wind.
The President also praised the efforts put in by the Saudi crown prince in creating a collaborative environment between Arab nations to combat climate change.
“Many countries have joined the initiative which shows the level of seriousness paid by our Arab region to face climate change whether at the transformation of renewable energy or at the level of taking effective measures for adaptation for the negative impacts of climate change,” El-Sisi said.
“Arab Countries are exerting efforts within the framework of the initiative and the hosting of the next COP in the United Arab Emirates is evidence of the role played by the countries with regard to climate change and the commitment of their collaboration,” he added.
El Sisi stated that the initiative is creating great opportunities for countries to mobilize new investments and provide new mechanisms for innovative financing into new technologies to face climate challenges.
He added that a proper framework was provided by the initiative to enhance technical collaboration linking research centers from different countries to fulfill technological integration to ease climate combat.
“Our conference today represents an opportunity for the leaders of the world towards a giant goal which is the necessity for urgent action and effective measures to be taken to tackle climate change. Time is not in our favor. The gaps in emissions are important to mitigate and to adapt mechanisms to take urgent executive actions and measures,” El-Sisi stated.
Tunisia’s prime minister pledge that her country will fully support the Middle East Green Initiative with financing mechanisms.
Najla Bouden said Tunisia has adopted the strategic orientation into its national objectives for the coming years.
“The goals of the Middle East Green Initiative match with our national strategic objectives in Tunisia and hence we would like to reiterate the support of the country and its engagement with the initiative to achieve all economic financing mechanisms for the success of this initiative,” Bouden said.
“We adopted this strategic orientation into our national reform for the coming years to depend on our resources and expertise to have inclusive partnerships at a bilateral regional level by supporting the role of women and youth to match the necessities of the green economy needs and to benefit from green financing mechanisms,” she added.
Bouden emphasized that the plan is a landmark for humanity as the march for global environmental sustainability needs more effort.
“Environmental disasters are multiplying and aggravating while international communities are still moving slowly toward the practical implementation of all pledges and commitments,” she said.
Jordan's Crown Prince used the summit to call for cooperation to establish the policies, programs, and creative fixes necessary to assure a future that is both green and sustainable for the current and future generations.
Al-Hussein bin Abdullah II made note of plans to modernize the economy by partnering with private and public sectors, locally, regionally, and globally, and involving youth and women in the process.