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Jeddah - Yasmine El Tohamy - Saudi Arabia has key role to play in tackling climate change, British-Saudi environment forum hears
RIYADH: Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture (MEWA) and the British Embassy in Riyadh have this week hosted a series of virtual discussions on the environment.
The forums took place weeks after Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced ambitious green initiatives for both the Kingdom and the Middle East.
“Climate change is a real problem that affects all of us,” UK deputy ambassador to Saudi Arabia Richard Oppenheim said during the third and final discussion held on Thursday. “We need to raise awareness about this issue and work together to take the necessary measures to reduce the harmful effects of climate change by reducing carbon emissions and using modern technologies.”
The UK-Saudi discussions have been held as part of the “Together For Our Planet” campaign run by the UK embassy.
The campaign aims to raise awareness leading up to the COP26 (26th session of the Conference of the Parties of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change) being held in the UK in November.
The final event discussed the importance of media in spreading the environment message, women’s contributions to environmental awareness, and environmental issues to which the public is most responsive.
The other discussions covered recycling and the effects of discarded plastic and how to raise climate change awareness.
On Thursday, six speakers from the private, public, and media sectors led the group discussion.
They included: Abdullah bin Sulaiman Al-Braiki, associate professor of ecology and adviser to MEWA, Majda Mohammed Abu Rass, founder and chairwoman of the Saudi Environmental Society (SENS), Fahd Al-Aqran, director of the Saudi Press Agency, Noor Osama Nugali, assistant editor-in-chief of Arab News, Abdulrahman bin Sulaiman Al-Trairi, a writer and political analyst, and Saad Al-Qassim, founder of Jeddah Now .
Al-Braiki described the success of government initiatives like the “Let’s make it green campaign” launched by MEWA last year.
He said more than six million trees had already been planted in the Kingdom - well on the way to the campaign’s 10 million target. The new green initiative now aims to plant 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia.
Abu Rass said public understanding of environmental matters played a big part in changing behavior.
“The problem of environmental pollution is closely related to patterns of behavior towards the environment and the lack of awareness about environmental issues,” she said.
“When a woman is aware of the importance of the resources the family uses, this will have a great impact on the environment.”
Al-Aqran said: “The media has a significant and necessary role in raising environmental awareness among individuals and societies.”
Nugali said Saudi Arabia had an important role to play in tackling climate change.
“As a leading global oil producer, Saudi Arabia is furthering its ambitions to combat climate change,” she said. “The Saudi Green Initiative, announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, was received by everyone with a warm welcome and enthusiasm. We look forward to a brighter and greener future.”
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