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Saudi Arabia, UN vow to work together to stop land degradation around the world

Saudi Arabia and the United Nations underscored the importance of achieving harmony between countries and working together to stop land degradation around the world in order to live on one land.

Both sides reiterated this during a dialogue session held within the ceremony organized by the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, on the occasion of the signing of an agreement to host the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (COP 16) in December in Riyadh.

Deputy Minister of Environment Dr. Osama Faqeeha and Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Andrea Meza attended the session, titled “The Road to Riyadh COP 16,” along with the CEO of the National Center for Meteorology Dr. Ayman Ghulam.

Saudi Arabia and the UNCCD signed an agreement to host the 16th session of the Convention’s Conference of the Parties, COP16, in Riyadh from Dec. 2-13, 2024. The Riyadh COP16 will be the largest-ever meeting of UNCCD’s 197 Parties, the first to be held in the Middle East region and the largest multilateral conference ever hosted by Saudi Arabia. The conference, with a focus on land degradation and drought issues, is set to bring together world leaders, environmental experts, and policy-makers to tackle some of the most pressing environmental challenges.

In his address, Dr. Fakeeha said that the Kingdom has plans and strategies to preserve the environment and find a balance between achieving development and preserving natural resources. He noted that the Kingdom is also working to achieve its ambitious goals to reduce land degradation, by launching several initiatives, most notably the Saudi Green Initiative, which aims to cultivate 14 million hectares of land over the coming decades. “These efforts are not limited to the local level only. Rather, it includes working to achieve environmental goals at the international level, through the international initiatives that the Kingdom had launched, such as the Middle East Green Initiative and the Global Initiative to Reduce Land Degradation that the Kingdom announced during its presidency of the G20 summit,” he said.

Dr. Fakeeha said that the Kingdom’s plans to host the COP 16 are related to continuous interaction and preparation for it along with international stakeholders. “We work with the United Nations, environmental experts, in addition to engaging youth, non-profit organizations, and the private sector. This is done by holding continuous meetings and workshops,” he said while pointing out that the Kingdom now has 40 international events on its calendar, in addition to its participation in 16 international conferences.

Dr. Fakeeha also stated that the Kingdom is working to reduce food waste rates to preserve natural resources, contribute to achieving environmental and economic goals, in addition to improving agricultural production and reducing water consumption in agriculture by recycling and reusing them.

In her address Andrea Meza stressed the necessity of working together to protect the earth, saying, “we cannot achieve the goals of climate indicators unless we talk about the earth.”

Meza described the Kingdom’s efforts in the field of environmental protection as a great thing. “There are wonderful opportunities to achieve harmony with the environmental agenda, by working to reclaim 30 percent of the land, which contributes to achieving food and water security, drawing attention to the fact that talking about frameworks of harmony and consensus that we are talking about it, which is evident in the presence of environment, water, and agriculture in one single ministry in the Kingdom,” she said.

Meza underlined the need to empower youth and women, through developing modern technologies, innovation, and artificial intelligence, in addition to creating green jobs for young people, to achieve harmony, prosperity, inclusivity, and land management.

On his part, Dr. Ayman Ghulam said that Saudi Arabia is taking proactive steps in response to climate situations, through the work of the Regional Center for Climate Change and the National Center of Meteorology. “The climate change affects various circles of environmental change, which changes the climate at frequent intervals. The Kingdom launched the early warning system for sandstorms, and established the regional sandstorm early warning center, which is the fourth of its kind in the world, and works to predict storms 10 days before they occur, with an accuracy of up to 95 percent,” he pointed out.








Saudi Gazette