Minister of Environment, Water, and Agriculture: Saudi Vision 2030 Has Given Utmost Importance to Environmental Protection as One of the Pillars for Achieving Sustainable Development

Minister of Environment, Water, and Agriculture: Saudi Vision 2030 Has Given Utmost Importance to Environmental Protection as One of the Pillars for Achieving Sustainable Development

The 33rd session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs, chaired by Morocco, kicked off today at the Arab League headquarters in Cairo, with the participation of several regional and international organizations concerned with environmental affairs.

The Kingdom’s delegation was headed by the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng. Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli, who stressed in his speech during the opening session, the Kingdom’s support for the success of this session and the implementation of its decisions, and its aspiration to enhance Arab action in the areas of preserving ecosystems, biodiversity, and reducing pollution, land degradation, and the effects of climate change.

The minister said, “The Kingdom's Vision 2030 has given the protection of the environment and natural resources the utmost importance as one of the three main pillars to achieve sustainable development, and during the past few years, important steps have been taken in this field, including the adoption of the National Environment Strategy, which included 64 initiatives, to upgrade all environmental domains, and restructuring the environment sector through the establishment of an environment fund and five specialized environmental centers, the adoption of a new environmental system per the best international practices, as well as a new waste management system based on the foundations of a circular economy, in addition to increasing the area of ​​protected areas fourfold from (4.3%) of the area of ​​the Kingdom in 2016 to more than (16%) now”.

Al-Fadhli added that “the adoption of a national water strategy aimed at promoting the use of renewable water resources and the sustainability of non-renewable water resources, and a national strategy for food security aimed at reducing loss and waste by 50% by 2030, in addition to many plans and initiatives aimed at enhancing the sustainability of the environment and resources, the nature and quality of life that culminated in the Saudi Green Initiative announced by HRH Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, Crown Prince and Prime Minister”.

The Minister said that the Kingdom actively participates at the international level in discussions and global agreements to confront environmental challenges such as issues of reducing land degradation, the effects of climate change, biodiversity loss, and pollution, adding that the Kingdom worked during its participation in the G-20 meetings in the past years to promote its role and the role of Arab and developing countries to confront common international issues.

He drew attention to the fact that the Kingdom is currently working in cooperation with the G20 member states and specialized international and regional organizations to take the necessary measures to support the implementation of the two initiatives at the local and global levels, adding that the Kingdom looks forward to the joining and participation of Arab countries in implementing these two initiatives and achieving their goals.

Regionally, Al-Fadhli highlighted the Kingdom’s hosting of the first Middle East Green Initiative Summit, held in October last year, in which leaders and representatives from about thirty countries participated, during which the ambitious goals of the Green Middle East Initiative were announced, which represent a unique framework for strengthening cooperation among the regional countries and developing methodologies and mechanisms to face many regional environmental challenges and to contribute to facing global environmental challenges, namely the climate change, land degradation, biodiversity loss, enhancing adaptation to climate change, and supporting food security and social welfare.

He referred to the ministerial meeting that will be held on October 26 in Riyadh, to adopt the document and governance of the Middle East Green Initiative, inviting all ministers concerned with the environment to attend the ministerial meeting to which invitations had already been sent, which represents an important step towards activating the Middle East Green Initiative.

He pointed out that the Saudi government, in light of the strategic, economic, and environmental importance of the Red Sea in the region, stresses the need for concerted Arab, regional and international efforts to take proactive preventive measures to prevent any chance of accidents to the floating storage tanker "Safer", whose condition or maintenance has not been evaluated since 2015, due to the Houthi militia's refusal, which resulted in a serious deterioration in the status of the floating tank.

He stressed the importance of implementing the decisions taken in this regard at the extraordinary session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs that was held virtually in September 2020 and called on the United Nations to quickly finalize a plan for unloading the floating storage tanker "Safer" of oil to ensure its safe implementation.

The Minister of Environment, Water, and Agriculture concluded his speech by thanking all parties who contributed to organizing this meeting, wishing it to achieve the desired goals, stressing the continuation of supporting and strengthening integration between Arab countries, and making all efforts to protect and preserve the environment.

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