His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Crown Prince and Deputy Prime Minister, recently announced that the “Green Saudi Initiative, Green Middle East Initiative”, which will be launched soon.
Both initiatives will chart the Kingdom and the region’s direction in protecting the land, nature and placing them on a road map with clear and ambitious milestones that will make a strong contribution to achieving global targets.
His Highness the Crown Prince said: As a leading global producer of oil, we are fully aware of our share of the responsibility in advancing the fight against the climate crisis, and that just as our pioneering role in stabilizing energy markets during the oil and gas era is represented, we will work to lead the next green era.
His Highness the Crown Prince added that the Kingdom and the region are facing many environmental challenges, such as desertification, which poses an economic threat to the region (as it is estimated that $ 13 billion are depleted from sandstorms in the region every year).
He stressed that pollution from greenhouse gases is estimated to be the main reason behind the reduction of the average life of citizens by one and a half years.
The Crown Prince explained that work will be done through the Saudi Green Initiative to raise vegetation cover, reduce carbon emissions, combat pollution, and land degradation, and preserve marine life.
The Crown Prince indicated that it will include many ambitious initiatives, most notably the planting of 10 billion trees within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the coming decades, equivalent to rehabilitating about 40 million hectares of degraded lands, which means an increase in the area covered by the current trees to 12 times.
This step is representing the Kingdom’s contribution by more than 4% in achieving the goals of the global initiative to reduce land degradation and fungal habitats, and 1% of the global target for planting a trillion trees.
It will also work to raise the percentage of protected areas to more than 30% of its land area, which is estimated at (600,000 )square kilometers, to exceed the current global target of protecting 17% of the lands of each country, in addition to many initiatives to protect the marine and coastal environment.
” Green Saudi Initiative will also reduce carbon emissions by more than 4% of global contributions, through renewable energy projects that will provide 50% of electricity production in the Kingdom by 2030,” The Crown Prince added.
The Crown Prince explained that while there is still much to be done, the Kingdom is determined to make a lasting global impact.
Based on its pioneering role, Saudi Arabia will also start work on the Green Middle East Initiative with the sister countries in the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC, and the Middle East.
The Kingdom seeks in partnership with its brothers in the countries of the Middle East to plant an additional 40 billion trees in the Middle East.
The Crown Prince indicated that the program aims to plant 50 billion trees, which is the largest reforestation program in the world, which is twice the size of the Great Green Wall in the Sahel region (the second-largest regional initiative of this kind).
The Crown Prince indicated that this project will restore area equivalent to (200 million) hectares of degraded land, which represents (5%) of the global goal of planting (1 trillion) trees and achieves a reduction of (2.5%) of global carbon levels.
The Crown Prince added that the share of clean energy production in the Middle East does not exceed 7% today and that the technologies used in oil production in the region are not efficient.
Saudi Arabia will work with these countries to transfer knowledge and share experiences, which will contribute to reducing carbon emissions resulting from oil production in the region by more than 60%.
The Crown Prince added that these joint efforts will achieve a reduction in carbon emissions by more than 10% of global contributions.
These two initiatives came in support of the present environmental efforts in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia during the previous years following Vision 2030.
The two initiatives also appeared due to the Kingdom’s serious desire to face the environmental challenges it has suffered, such as high temperatures, low levels of rain, high waves of dust, and desertification.
Both initiatives aim also to improve the quality of life for citizens and residents, as they carried out a comprehensive restructuring of the environment sector, and established the Special Forces for Environmental Security in 2019.
The two initiatives also aim to raise the coverage rate of natural reserves from 4% to more than 14% and increase the vegetation cover in the Kingdom by 40% during the past four years. The Kingdom has also been able to reach the best level of carbon emissions for oil-producing countries, and other initiatives that started on the ground; it has achieved tangible positive results in the general environmental situation.
The Crown Prince also noted that these two initiatives also stem from the Kingdom’s pioneering role towards common international issues, and as a continuation of its efforts to protect the planet during its presidency of the G20 last year, which resulted in the issuance of a special declaration on the environment and the adoption of the concept of a circular carbon economy.
His Highness the Crown Prince concluded his speech by saying: “I am proud to announce the Green Saudi Initiative and the Green Middle East Initiative, this is just the beginning.”
He added “The Kingdom, the region, and the world at large need to move forward at an accelerated pace in the fight against climate change,”
The Crown Prince indicated that he believes that working to combat climate change enhances competitiveness, sparks innovation, and creates millions of jobs.
“Today the rising generation in the Kingdom and the world is demanding a cleaner and more sustainable future, we owe it to them to provide that, and in this regard the Kingdom will work with all Its international partners, including organizations and countries, to develop these two initiatives,” The Crown Prince stressed.
The Crown Prince added that the details of the Green Saudi Initiative will be announced in the next few months and that a regional gathering will be launched in the presence of international partners for the Green Middle East Initiative in the second quarter of next year.
This is not the first time for Saudi Arabia to adopt an initiative to move towards a green environment, according to the recent statement of His Highness Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the Kingdom is planning also to establish a “Green Riyadh” program to plant millions of trees in the city, which will reduce the temperature as well as the level of dust. There are also plans to establish huge reserves around the city of Riyadh to improve the environmental situation of the city.
Riyadh is located in the middle of a desert, with fewer trees and green sites, but the Saudi government intends to transform the metropolis with its area and population into a green capital full of gardens and trees, to protect the environment, reduce pollution and improve the quality of life in the city of Riyadh.
Saudi Arabia applies this in a campaign to all Saudi cities, but Riyadh is the most in need of it for its location in the middle of the Najd desert. What made it launch the “Green Riyadh Program” project, one of the four major Riyadh projects launched by King Salman bin Abdulaziz, in 2019 at the initiative of Prince Muhammad bin Salman, the Saudi Crown Prince.
Environmentalists confirm that trees and vegetation have an environmental role in reducing the problems caused by environmental pollution by reducing the temperature by up to 8 degrees Celsius compared to areas without trees. This reduces energy consumption in cooling buildings, in addition to reducing the proportion of dust by about 30 to 40 percent compared to areas without vegetation.
7.5 million Trees in Riyadh
Recently, signs of green began to form in many sites and roads in the capital, Riyadh, which witnessed the cultivation of large numbers of local green trees as part of a project aimed at planting more than 7.5 million trees throughout the city of Riyadh.
The project contributes to raising the per capita share of the green space in the city and increasing the percentage of total green areas in it, while achieving optimal utilization of treated water in irrigation works, thus contributing to improving the quality of its air and reducing its temperature, and encouraging residents to practice a more active and vibrant lifestyle within the vision 2030.
The project will achieve an economic return to the city of about 71 billion riyals in 2030, through its role in reducing health care expenditures and electricity consumption, rationalizing the waste of drinking water in irrigation and replacing it with the establishment of treated water networks and raising the value of the real estate.
It will also provide new investment opportunities for the private sector in the work of nurseries, orchards, afforestation, landscaping design, and irrigation works, and contribute to achieving many “Vision 2030” goals by achieving environmental sustainability, building a vibrant society with a healthy lifestyle, and enhancing economic efficiency.
It will also contribute to achieving many goals of the “National Transformation Program”, including increasing green space, reducing water waste, improving the efficiency of flood discharge, and increasing the rate of use of treated water.
It also contributes to achieving many objectives of the “Quality of Life Program” by creating open areas for social communication, practicing various sports, and increasing the walking rates for individuals.
According to the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), trees in cities help mitigate some of the negative impacts, explaining that there are nine ways in which trees and forests contribute to cities by making them more socially, economically, and environmentally sustainable, including that a mature tree can absorb up to 150 kilograms of carbon dioxide annually.
As a result; trees play an important role in mitigating the effects of climate change and improving its quality, especially in cities, where pollution levels are high, making them better places to live.
The contributions of trees and green areas also included that strategic planning for tree sites in cities can help cool the air by between 2 and 8 degrees celsius.
Trees also help reduce carbon emissions by helping to conserve energy.
Research shows that living close to and accessing urban green spaces can improve physical and mental health, for example, by lowering blood pressure and stress, in turn contributing to the well-being of societies, according to the organization.