Crown Prince unveils Saudi Green, Green Middle East Initiatives

Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman. (Reuters)

Crown Prince Muhammad Bin Salman unveiled on Saturday the Saudi Green Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative.

The Crown Prince said that the two initiatives, which will be launched soon; will shape the Kingdom’s tendency to protect earth and nature.

The two initiatives will strongly contribute to achieving the global objectives, the Crown Prince added.

“Saudi Arabia and the region are facing many environmental challenges, such as desertification, which threaten the regional economy.”

The two initiatives aim to chart a path for the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the region in protecting the planet.

The initiative will clearly define an ambitious road map; that rallies the region and significantly contributes to achieving global targets in confronting climate change.

The Crown Prince noted, as a leading global oil producer, the Kingdom fully recognizes; its share of responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis.

Green world

Just as the Kingdom underpinned energy markets during the oil and gas era; it is going to become a global leader in forging a greener world.

The Crown Prince added, the Kingdom and the region face significant climate challenges, such as desertification; an immediate economic risk to the Kingdom and the region ($13bn is currently lost due to dust storms in the region every year), air pollution from greenhouse gases also is estimated to have shortened average Saudi life expectancy by 1.5 years.

We will work through The Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover; reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution & land degradation, and preserve marine life.

This initiative will include a number of ambitious initiatives; most notably the planting of (10 billion) trees within the Kingdom in the upcoming decades; the equivalent to rehabilitating roughly (40 million) hectares of degraded lands, translating to a 12-fold increase from current tree covers.

This represents the Kingdom‘s contribution of more than (4%) in achieving the goals of the global initiative to limit the degradation of lands and fungal habitats; and (1%) of the global target to plant (1 trillion) trees.

Reduce carbon

The Kingdom will also work to raise the percentage of protected areas to more than (30%) of its total land area; representing roughly (600,000) square kilometers, exceeding the current global target of (17%).

In addition it will launch a number of ambitious initiatives to protect Marine and Coastal Environments.

The Crown Prince further added, the Saudi Green Initiative would also work; in order to reduce carbon emissions by more than (4%) of global contributions, through an ambitious renewable energy program that will generate (50%) of the Kingdom’s energy from renewables by 2030.

It would also work on several other projects in the fields of clean hydrocarbon technologies, estimated to eliminate more than (130 MT) of carbon emissions, alongside raising the rate of waste diversion from landfills; in order to reach 94% in the Kingdom.

The Crown Prince announced, whilst there is still a lot more to be; the Kingdom is determined to make a lasting global impact; we will start working on The Middle East Green Initiative in coordination with neighboring and sister countries of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) states and Middle Eastern countries to plant an additional (40 billion) trees in the Middle East.

Largest reforestation program

This overall regional (50 billion) tree-planting program is the largest reforestation program in the world; twice the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel (the second largest such regional initiative).

This project will restore an area equivalent to (200 million) hectares of degraded land, representing (5%) of the global target of planting (1 Trillion) trees and reducing (2.5%) of global carbon levels.

The Crown Prince added, today the share of clean energy production in the Middle East doesn’t exceed 7%; and technologies used in hydrocarbon production in the region are not efficient.

Regional partners

He said, therefore the Kingdom will work with regional partners to transfer our knowledge and share our experiences; which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions resulting from hydrocarbon production in the region by more than (60.

He added that these joint efforts and various other initiatives; would achieve a reduction in carbon emissions by more than (10%) of global contributions.

The Crown Prince further highlighted that these two initiatives are a continuation of the environmental efforts in the Kingdom over the past few years in line with our Vision 2030.

These two initiatives are a testimony of the Kingdom’s serious desire in order to address the environmental challenges it has faced, from increase in temperatures and dust waves to low levels of rain and desertification.

In this regard the Kingdom has carried out a comprehensive restructuring of the environmental sector, established The Environmental Special Forces in 2019, raised the percentage of natural reserves from (4%) to more than (14%) and increased vegetation cover by (40%) in the past 4 years.

Planet protection

The Kingdom was also able to achieve the most efficient levels of carbon emission of hydrocarbon producing countries, alongside other initiatives; that have already started on the ground and resulted in tangible positive results for the environment.

This is all part of the Kingdom’s efforts to promote public health and raise quality of life; for its citizens and residents.

The Crown Prince noted, at a global level, these initiatives emanate from the Kingdom‘s leadership role; towards common international issues, and a continuation of Kingdom’s efforts to protect the planet during its presidency of the G20 summit last year.

In the summit, a dedicated environmental declaration was issued, concept of Circular Carbon Economy were adopted; and the first environmental taskforce was established, alongside the launching of two global initiatives to reduce land degradation and protection of coral reefs.

Climate change

The Crown Prince concluded his statement by saying: “I am proud to announce the Saudi and Middle East Green Initiatives; but this is only a start.

“The Kingdom, the region and the world needs to go much further and faster in combatting climate change. Given our starting point, beginning this journey to a greener future has not been easy.

“But in line with our overall modernization philosophy, we are not avoiding tough choices. We reject the false choice between preserving the economy and protecting the environment.

More inclusive future

“Climate action will enhance competitiveness, spark innovation, and create millions of high-quality jobs. Young people, both in the Kingdom and the world, are demanding a cleaner; greener and more inclusive future, and we owe it to them to deliver on this.

“And the Kingdom will work with all international partners to further develop these two initiatives; and the various programs and timelines entailed in them.”

He noted that details of the Saudi Green Initiative are going to be announced in next few months; and a global forum with international partners for the Middle East Green Initiative will be launched and held in the second quarter of next year.