• Type General news
  • Date 16 October 2023

MENA Climate Week in Riyadh ends with call to carry ‘voice of the region’ to COP28

A one size fits all approach will not work in the MENA region, Khalid al-Mehaid, Saudi Arabia’s chief climate negotiator, said in a statement during the closing ceremony of the UN-backed climate week in Riyadh on Thursday.

Al-Mehadi, who is also a senior sustainability advisor to the Kingdom’s energy ministry, said that “the kind of energy transition narrative is not taking into account the priorities of the MENA region, let alone the Global South.”

The official also added that mitigation and adaptation go “hand in hand.”

“We cannot progress mitigation without seriously prioritizing adaptation,” he added.

He concluded by saying that the voice of the region must carry forward to COP28 in Dubai “sending a strong signal to the world, a signal of unity through ambition and inclusion, as we aspire to leave no one behind.”

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The MENA Climate Week came to a close after five-long days of keynotes from regional government officials and private sector partners, youth-led discussions, and the signing of several agreements.

The event, held in Boulevard Riyadh City, was hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Energy in collaboration with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), United Nations Development Program (UNDP), United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) and the World Bank.

MENA Climate Week event in Riyadh. (Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English)

COP28’s President-Designate Sultan al-Jaber spoke about practically transitioning from fossil-fuel based energy sources to clean energy and providing government support to high-emission industries are three key pathways to contribute to decarbonization efforts and meet the 1.5 degree Celsius global warming limit on the first day of the event, in a welcome keynote.

The Riyadh event, according to regional stakeholders, was a significant collaborative opportunity ahead of the COP28 summit scheduled to take place in the UAE financial capital city of Dubai between November 30 and December 12.

What was discussed at MENA Climate Week?

Stakeholders discussed scaling up carbon capture and storage, and heavily leaned on renewable energy transition as a pathway to poverty eradication, economic diversification, energy access, youth empowerment and more.

Public-private collaboration and adequate financing for the high-risk MENA region were touted as essential steps to control emissions and stabilize policy.

The MENA region was also recognized to have a geographic advantage in terms of an abundancy of resources and forward-thinking policymakers.

MENA Climate Week event in Riyadh. (Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English)

At the same time, issues like water scarcity and identifying and aligning local and national priorities were noted for further review. Enhancing supply chain systems and building an efficient waste management network were also discussed.

Developing early warning systems for sand and dust storms were acknowledged by the host country and deemed an essential next step.

In a joint report released by the King Abdullah University of Science and Technology (KAUST), AEON Collective and King Abdullah Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC) coinciding with the climate week, it said that the Kingdom might face in a 3-degree Celsius warmer country much sooner than the rest of the world.

And while this has the potential to negatively affect human life, it added that a rapid transformation of national policies to “protection, preserve and restore” natural capital and follow through on its adaption and mitigation goals, can greatly avert the possibility.

Another essential branch was youth participation, which was widely showcased through presentations and discussion from local and visiting young delegates from around the world.

Agreements, partnerships and projects

Saudi Arabia and India signed an MoU on electrical interconnections, and hydrogen and clean energy supply chains. The agreement was signed by the Saudi Energy Minister Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman and India’s Minister of Power and Renewable Energy Raj Kumar Singh.

MENA Climate Week event in Riyadh. (Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English)

Saudi Arabia’s Clean Development Mechanism Designated National Authority (CDMDNA) announced the start of a domestic market mechanism – Greenhouse Gas Crediting and Offsetting Mechanism (GCOM) – to incentivize emissions reduction and removal.

An ‘Empowering Africa’ initiative was announced by the Oil Sustainability Program (OSP), Ministry of Communications and Information Technology (MCIT), and the Ministry of Health (MOH) to bring cleaner energy, connectivity, e-health, and e-education solutions.

A roadmap to achieve the 2021-launched Saudi Green Initiative to plant 10 billion trees was announced at the climate week following a two-year-long feasibility study. It will be implemented in two phases, with 600 million trees by 2030.

Saudi oil and gas giant Aramco signed two agreements; one with Topsoe to build a lower-carbon hydrogen demonstration plant and another with Siemens Energy to develop a Direct Air Capture test unit.

The Kingdom joined the Global CCS Institute as a member to contribute to capacity building and scale up carbon capture and storage technology (CCS).

Saudi Arabia’s Communications, Space and Technology Commission launched the ‘Development of Electronic Waste Management Regulations’ initiative to oversee experimental implementation of regulations in Zimbabwe, Rwanda and Paraguay to help establish a framework for electronic waste management regulations and standards.

Saudi Arabia’s Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC) launched the Global Solutions Hub (GSH) to invest in research and help quantify the impact that tourism has on the Kingdom and in other parts of the world.

MENA Climate Week event in Riyadh. (Ayush Narayanan, Al Arabiya English)


This article appeared on Alarabiya News

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