RIYADH: An international conservation group wants to help Saudi Arabia reach its goal of planting 450 million trees by 2030 to offset carbon emissions, its CEO has told Arab News.
Wildlife Alliance’s Suwanna Gauntlett also said that she wanted her organization to be on the ground training young Saudis to help realize the goal.
Speaking at the Saudi Green Initiative, which is taking place on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference, Gauntlett said: “We are a non-governmental organization, nonprofit. Our mission is to conduct afforestation, where the forest has been denuded and to protect the forests that still exist.”
SGI plans to plant 450 million trees and rehabilitate eight million hectares of degraded land by 2030, which would cut around 200 million tons of carbon emissions a year.
“Our wish is to be selected to help them with the implementation and to accelerate (it) because there’s not much time left until 2030,” said Gauntlett.
Wildlife Alliance also aims to help with the country’s Vision 2030 mandate to designate as much as 30 percent of Saudi Arabia’s land and sea areas as protected as reserves.
The Kingdom currently has around 17 percent under protection, which include the Royal Natural Reserves, Natural Reserves and AlUla Natural Reserves.
“I’ve seen so far a great commitment from the Saudi government and the creation of the relevant departments to get the Saudi Green Initiative done. Centers, hiring managers, creating plans, and I believe now allocating budgets,” the Gauntlett told Arab News.
“We think that everybody should get involved. So, we're specialists, we want to share our skills and our expertise and we want to do it now.”
Youth participation in the environmental sector is key to beating the climate crisis, she said.
“We have to let this new generation take charge of what we started. In my company, we now have one third of our 300 employees as youth just coming in,” she said.
The organization works on training those youths, motivating them, and giving the right framework, discipline, and professionalism that they need in order to get things done, Gauntlett added.
Wildlife Alliance is seeking to have its own pavilion and stage in next year’s 2023 United Nations Climate Change Conference, to allow them to hold conferences and presentations.