By Abdullah Al Qatan
As part of the Saudi Fund for Development’s (SFD) contribution to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030 and the Kingdom’s G20 Presidency, SFD sponsored the International Institute of Finance G20 Conference and participated in a panel discussion at the IIF G20 Conference, held in Riyadh.
The Just Transition Framework discussed at the conference is closely aligned with SFD’s strategic ambition in financing international development projects, and in line with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s G20 Presidency, and Vision 2030 objectives. The Just Transition Framework is a natural progression for SFD and the projects it supports, as the framework seeks to ensure developing nations are included in the conversation surrounding the move towards impactful projects that support sustainable development.
SFD has supported renewable energy initiatives in seven African countries, most recently the Samendini Dam in Burkina Faso, that was financed alongside other development partners. The Samendini Dam will enhance food security and agriculture production through the reclamation of land – estimated to benefit 250,000 farmers and local residents. In addition to supporting agriculture, the dam will also provide cleaner, more affordable power to the local community. A prime example of supporting the Just Transition Framework, the dam addresses three key concerns: water stress, affordable energy, and sustainable energy, and food security.
Since 1975, SFD has provided official development assistance (ODA) for over 1000 projects in 85 countries through a combination of loans and grants.
In addition to larger infrastructure projects, SFD has developed standalone ODA programs, such as the ‘Saudi Program for Wells and Rural Development in Africa’. This program aims to mitigate the effects of drought in rural regions in a number of African countries by digging wells of potable water. Under the program, over 6,000 water facilities have been equipped, and 2.5 million people have benefited from access to cleaner, safer water.
Faisal Al-Kahtani, Acting Director-General, Operations Department discussed SFD’s role in “Financing the ‘Just Transition’” and was joined by representatives from Fitch Ratings, Global Sovereign Advisory and Invesco. During the discussion, Mr. Al-Kahtani reiterated the need to ensure developing nations were not left behind in the global transition to low-carbon economies.
Faisal Al-Kahtani said: “Four sustainability-related issues fall under the broader Saudi G20 Agenda: carbon emission, water stress, food safety, and affordable, sustainable energy. SFD has been supporting projects in these areas since 1975. SFD looks at a nation’s critical needs, whether those be in energy, water or other principal development areas and works to finance projects which address a particular need, in line with the UN Sustainable Development Goals.”
During the panel discussion, Mr. Al- Kahtani stressed the importance of the Just Transition, and noted that under the Saudi G20 Presidency, the concept of circular carbon economy was at the forefront of the discussions, underpinned by research development and innovation to ensure cleaner, more sustainable and affordable energy systems. In addition, Mr. Al- Kahtani noted the G20 will also address energy security and market stability for economic prosperity and livelihood – areas that are integral to the success of the Just Transition.