Middle East Green Initiative cements region’s climate commitments

Leaders participating in the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) summit pose for a group photo in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt on Nov 8, 2022. (PHOTO PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY)

Government leaders from the Middle East and North Africa have reaffirmed their commitment to taking climate action, including doubling down on the reduction of carbon emissions and a $2 billion pledge from Saudi Arabia

This happened at the second Middle East Green Initiative summit in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, which was held simultaneously with COP27 United Nations climate summit on Nov 7 and was attended by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi, President of Djibouti Ismaïl Omar Guelleh, and President of Mauritania Mohamed Ould Ghazouani.

Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman announced the establishment of a dedicated MGI Secretariat and the allocation of US$2.5 billion to support MGI projects and governance to achieve its goals

Crown Prince and Prime Minister of Saudi Arabia Mohammed bin Salman led the summit, which alsosaw the attendance of Crown Prince of Kuwait Sheikh Mishal Al-Ahmad Al-Jaber Al-Sabah, Crown Prince of Jordan AlHussein Bin Abdullah II, Prime Minister of Pakistan Shehbaz Sharif, Prime Minister of Tunisia Najla Bouden Romdhane, and Chairman of the Transitional Sovereignty Council of Sudan Abdel Fattah al-Burhan among others.

In his address at the MGI Summit, Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman said: “If we are to achieve the desired objectives of the ambitious Middle East Green Initiative, continued regional cooperation and active contributions by member countries are needed to achieve global climate goals and accelerate the implementation commitments as part of international agreements.”

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He also announced the establishment of a dedicated MGI Secretariat and the allocation of US$2.5 billion to support MGI projects and governance to achieve its goals.

According to the crown prince, the MGI climate action roadmap’s goals include focusing on emissions reduction and supporting efforts across the region to reduce emissions by 670 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalent.

This figure, he said, represents the nationally determined contributions from all countries in the region, which accounted for 10 percent of global contributions at the time the target was announced, according to the summit.

While implementing the Circular Carbon Economy approach, Saudi Arabia will be deploying one of the largest Carbon Capture, Usage and Storage hubs in the world.

The second goal under the MGI involves planting 50 billion trees across the region to rehabilitate 200 million hectares of degraded land, with a goal to slash emissions by 2.5 percent of current global levels.

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The trees are expected to combat desertification, reduce dust storms and offer protection against the environmental and socioeconomic impacts of land degradation in the region.

Saudi Arabia is spearheading regional cooperation to achieve the target, with the initial governance framework agreed by founding member countries during a ministerial meeting in Riyadh in October 2022.

The crown prince also announced that Saudi Arabia's Public Investment Fund "will aim to reach net zero by 2050" — the first sovereign wealth fund in the Middle East and one of the first globally to do so.

This will be achieved by financing projects that support the green transition and encourage further innovation.

In his speech, Egyptian President El-Sisi encouraged Arab countries to seize the opportunities for technical and financial collaboration presented by the initiative. 

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He also praised the efforts put in by the Saudi crown prince in creating a collaborative environment between Arab nations to combat climate change, according to a report of Arabnews website.

The MGI summit is a first-of-its-kind, strategic platform designed to accelerate the region’s green transition, stimulate economic development and build a more sustainable future.

Chinese Vice-Minister of Ecology and Environment Zhao Yingmin and Director-General and Chief Executive Officer of the OPEC Fund for International Development Abdulhamid Alkhalifa, also participated along with Chairman of the Presidential Leadership Council of Yemen Rashad Al-Alimi; UK Secretary of State for Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Affairs James Cleverly; Indian Minister of Environment, Forest and Climate Change Shri Bhupender Yadav; and Morocco Minister of Energy Transition and Sustainable Development Leila Benali.