Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, Eng. Abdurrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli stressed the importance of the environmental issues discussed at the 32nd session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environment meeting, which will contribute to preserving the environment in the region and to regional and international efforts to preserve the planet and its biodiversity and to achieve sustainable development. and economic recovery.
In a speech at the opening session, which started in Cairo today, Eng. Al-Fadhli said that the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has paid great attention to protecting the environment, its development and sustainability, preserving biodiversity, and addressing the environmental challenges it faces to achieve this, hence the Kingdom has launched a package of initiatives, regulation and strategies for its vision 2030, including the national environment strategy, which constitutes the starting point for all development efforts and achieving transformation in the environmental sector, and under which 5 specialized environmental centers were established, in addition to setting up an environment fund to contribute to the financial sustainability of the environmental sector.
He added that the Kingdom managed, in a short period, to increase the area of the rehabilitated natural vegetation cover in 2019 by approximately 175% compared to 2017, and developed several natural parks in various regions of the Kingdom with a total area of (1,069,776) hectares, to increase the green area, preserve biodiversity and contribute to the development of the ecotourism sector.
He pointed out that the Kingdom was able to establish 6 reserves that contributed to increasing the proportion of protected areas to more than 16% of the area of the Kingdom, adding that the Saudi and the Middle East initiatives announced by His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Defense, will raise the percentage of protected areas to more than 30% of the Kingdom's area, as well as unifying the environmental regulations and laws in the Kingdom to preserve the environment and rationalize the use of its resources.
The Minister noted that the Kingdom at the regional and international levels actively participates in addressing global environmental issues such as pollution, desertification, biodiversity deterioration, and climate change, adding that the declaration of the environment ministers of the G20 included the launch of the global initiative to reduce land degradation and enhance the protection of wild habitats to restore land and prevent its degradation and the global initiative to preserve coral reefs, and the Kingdom is also cooperating with G20 countries and international and regional organizations to take action to implement these initiatives.
Al-Fadhli said the Saudi and the Middle East initiatives will support the Kingdom and the region's efforts to protect the land and nature, placing it in a road map with clear and ambitious landmarks, and contributing significantly to achieving global objectives to counter the climate change, as they will increase vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution, and land degradation, and preserve marine life.
He explained that the Kingdom, in light of the strategic, economic, and environmental importance of the Red Sea, stresses the need for rallying Arab, regional and international efforts to take proactive preventive measures to prevent chances of accidents that might happen to the floating storage tanker "Safer", which contains more than one million barrels of oil, and has not undergone any maintenance since 2015, due to the Houthi militia's refusal, which could herald the largest environmental and economic disaster in the region in the event of a fire of an oil spill accident from the floating tank, reiterating the importance of implementing the decisions taken in this regard at the special session of the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for Environment in held remotely in 2020.
He also confirmed that the Kingdom will continue to support the international and regional trends aimed at protecting, developing, and sustaining the environment due to its paramount importance in sustaining life on the planet, and reiterates its support for Egypt and the UAE to host the upcoming conferences of the parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, expressing hope that these upcoming meetings would achieve the present goals that would contribute to achieving prosperity and stability for the region and its people.