The Sustainable Development Goals in Saudi Arabia
The Sustainable Development Goals are a global call to action to end poverty, protect the earth’s environment and climate, and ensure that people everywhere can enjoy peace and prosperity. These are the goals the UN is working on in Saudi Arabia:
27 November 2023
Empowering Media for Sustainable Development: UN Workshop Unveils Insights and Initiatives
A lively gathering unfolded in Riyadh as the United Nations organized a captivating media workshop. The event, hosted by the UN Resident Coordinator Office, brought together a diverse mix of media outlets, independent journalists, and young media professionals, with aims to deepen understanding and coverage of the UN's impactful work within Saudi Arabia. The UN Resident Coordinator, Mohammed El Zarkani, opened the media workshop and extended a warm welcome, setting the stage for a day filled with insights and revelations. Dr. Fawzia AlHarbi, Director of Corporate Communications at the Technical and Vocational Training Corporation, took the stage with a compelling keynote address. Her words resonated with the participants, emphasizing the crucial role media plays in achieving sustainable development and the ambitious Vision 2030. The workshop unfolded as a narrative, with each session contributing to the overarching story of media empowerment. UNHCR led a compelling session on humanitarian storytelling, transporting the audience into the heart of impactful narratives that drive empathy and understanding. UNESCO and OHCHR steered the discussion toward combating misinformation and hate speech. Their insights illuminated the challenges faced by media in an era of digital misinformation, underscoring the responsibility to promote accurate information. In a compelling session led by Caroline Faraj, Vice President of CNN Arabic, UN Women skillfully painted a vivid picture of gender-sensitive media. Faraj's expertise added a unique perspective, enriching discussions on inclusivity and diversity in media narratives. The session echoed the broader call for equal representation, emphasizing the pivotal role media plays in shaping perceptions and promoting gender equality. FAO unveiled the secrets of sustainable and rural development, showcasing initiatives that form the backbone of the nation's progress. The workshop didn't merely unfold as a series of sessions; it was a journey, a narrative that unfolded, each chapter building on the last. The outcomes were evident not just in increased awareness and enhanced capacity but in the strengthened partnerships forged through lively discussions and shared insights. As the day drew to a close, a survey captured the sentiments of the participants. A collective photo captured the spirit of collaboration that had permeated the event. The UN in Saudi Arabia, thrilled with the success, expressed optimism for continued collaboration, recognizing the media's pivotal role in shaping the narrative of sustainable development in the nation. The success of the workshop owed much to the active participation of UN agencies, including UNHCR, UNESCO, UN Women, and FAO. The UN looks forward to future chapters, inviting the media to contribute to the unfolding story of sustainable development in Saudi Arabia.
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22 October 2023
Saudi Youth Climate Advocates Inspire at KSA Local Conference of Youth
The KSA Local Conference of Youth 18 (KSA LCOY18) recently drew its second conference to a close, creating ripples of hope and inspiration in the fight against climate change. This gathering, hosted by the Saudi Youth Climate Network and supported by Global Shapers Jeddah Hub, Pristine, and Global Shapers Riyadh Hub, sponsored by United Nations Development Programme and EDF, and took place on October 21st at the United Nations House. The event served as a platform for bringing together the passionate voices of young climate advocates and experts. United in their mission to accelerate the shift toward a green economy, these individuals engaged in intergenerational dialogues that held the potential to shape a sustainable future. KSA LCOY18, as an official event of YOUNGO, the youth constituency of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), marked an annual local gathering dedicated to addressing climate challenges. The conference aimed to empower young Saudi climate enthusiasts and experts to take effective action and make a real difference. It emerged as a pivotal hub for dialogue, cooperation, and advocacy within the global youth climate movement. The event commenced with an inspiring opening remark from the Deputy Resident Representative of UNDP, Margaret Jones Williams, who aptly set the tone by saying, "UNDP Saudi Arabia is committed to empowering youth voices and supporting their engagement in policymaking and helping guide the development of youth inclusive climate change policies." This was followed by an enlightening keynote speech delivered by UNICEF Gulf Deputy Representative, Jumana Haj Ahmad, who shared her perspective, “Child and youth centered climate policies, resilient services and systems and empowering children and youth with the information and skills to lead solutions that will help them survive and thrive are instrumental for the way forward. We have a responsibility to create spaces for the children and youth to meaningfully participate, innovate and engage in decisions affecting their lives.” The conference further delved into lively panel discussions with young leaders. It culminated with an interactive Saudi Youth Statement session, allowing the vibrant young audience to share their perspectives. The Saudi Youth Climate Network then used these insights to compile comprehensive policy recommendations, outlining the aspirations of Saudi youth in tackling climate change within their beloved Kingdom. This Saudi Youth Statement was later presented at the Middle East and North Africa Regional Conference of Youth (RCOY) to contribute to the global climate conversation, gathering additional insights from neighboring countries on the frontline of climate challenges. All these invaluable contributions will converge at the Global Conference of Youth (GCOY) in the United Arab Emirates at the end of November. This gathering holds immense significance as the most substantial youth conference linked to the United Nations climate processes. It will directly impact the climate negotiations at the Conference of Parties (COP28) this year, as these youth-driven policy recommendations find their place within the official discourse. The COP, as the highest decision-making body of the Climate Change Convention, will be enriched by the perspectives and insights of Saudi youth. Taha Boksmati, Founder & CEO at Pristine, said, "Pristine is thrilled to be part of KSA LCOY18. As an NPO dedicated to sustainable development and environmental conservation, we believe in the power of youth-led initiatives to create meaningful change. LCOY18 provided an incredible opportunity for young Saudi climate advocates to enhance their knowledge, skills, and networks, positioning them as valuable contributors to the green economy transition." With a central theme focusing on measuring impact across various sectors and the importance of nurturing green skills among young individuals, KSA LCOY18 delivered a transformative experience for Saudi youth. "KSA LCOY18 granted a platform for young climate advocates and leaders in Saudi Arabia to share ideas, foster innovative discussions, and drive tangible and actionable climate policy recommendations," said Hanan Alnuwaiser, Founder of the Saudi Youth Climate Network. "The engagement and dedication of the participants have been inspiring, highlighting the immense potential of Saudi Arabia's youth in addressing climate challenges and contributing to the goals outlined in Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030 towards a sustainable future." The Saudi Youth Climate Network remains steadfast in its mission to empower, equip, and train Saudi youth with the skills, resources, and opportunities needed to lead the charge for sustainable change. Their vision is to create an inclusive space that mobilizes Saudi youth as leaders in the climate movement, aligning with Saudi Arabia's transition toward a green economy.
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31 October 2023
World Food Day 2023 Celebrations Focus on Water Scarcity and Sustainable Agriculture
On the occasion of World Food Day 2023, the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture of Saudi Arabia, in collaboration with the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO), organized a grand celebration in Hail. The event was held under the auspices of His Royal Highness Prince Abdulaziz bin Saad bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, the Prince of Hail. This celebration was made possible with the support of partners, including Hail Region Municipality, Almarai, National Seeds Agricultural Production Company (NSPC), LEHA Agriculture, and JAL and also served as the inauguration of the agricultural extension convoy activities in the region, known as the "القافلة_الزراعية_الإرشادية" (Agricultural Extension Convoy) and Pomegranate and Figs Festival. FAO Dedicates World Food Day to Raise Awareness Since November 1979, during the 20th conference of the FAO, member countries have dedicated October 16th of each year as World Food Day, with the aim of raising awareness about promoting sustainable food systems and the responsible use of resources. The focus of this year's celebration was on the theme "Water is Life, Water is Food. Leaving No One Behind," highlighting the crucial role that water plays in our lives and the future of the planet. In his opening speech, HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Saad bin Abdulaziz emphasized the importance of water and food security, particularly in the Hail region. HRH Prince welcomed innovative agricultural approaches and initiatives that align with the goals of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and the global goals to achieve water provision, agricultural production, and economic advancement. The conservation of water and its uses has become essential goals that require careful and responsible handling. HRH Prince also acknowledged the collective efforts of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, FAO, cooperative community, and related government departments and agencies in achieving sustainable rural agricultural development, emphasizing the significance of the agricultural extension convoy and its record-breaking achievement as the longest convoy in the Guinness World Records, covering more than 8 000 km. Saudi Arabia at the Forefront of Addressing Water Scarcity Ayman Omer, FAO Programme Director, highlighted the crucial role of smallholder farmers in the agricultural sector. He emphasized that as agriculture consumes around 72% of the world's freshwater resources, particularly in the water-scarce Arab region, innovative approaches in food and agricultural production are necessary to optimize water usage. Addressing this challenge requires collaborative efforts among stakeholders, scientific research, technological advancements, and policy reforms. Ayman further added that Saudi Arabia has been at the forefront of addressing water scarcity and implementing sustainable agriculture practices. This is proven through the Saudi Arabia Vision 2030 initiative, which encompasses various policies, initiatives, and programs, including the agricultural sector, highlighting the importance of water and its efficient utilization. The Ministry, along with other government and private institutions, actively works to maximize the benefits of water through rainwater harvesting, reservoir and dam construction, wastewater treatment for reuse, and advanced water-saving technologies. Acknowledging the impact of climate change on water availability, the Kingdom launched the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative in 2021. These initiatives aim to lead regional sustainability efforts and address the consequences of climate change in the region. Ayman briefed that, in collaboration with FAO, Saudi Arabia has implemented several projects to enhance national water management capabilities, improve irrigation efficiency, and explore innovative irrigation models for small-scale farms. He added that FAO also works globally with countries and partners to build national capacities, develop tools, and assist policymakers in achieving maximum water productivity. One such tool is the Water Productivity (WaPOR) portal, which utilizes satellite technology to estimate groundwater consumption by measuring water usage in crop and plant growth. World Food Day serves as a Platform for Knowledge-Sharing and Networking The World Food Day celebration in Hail served as a platform for knowledge-sharing, networking, and showcasing innovative agricultural practices. It brought together farmers, agricultural experts, stakeholders, and community members to discuss challenges and explore solutions related to water scarcity, food security, and sustainable agriculture. During the four-day event, FAO Cooperative Expert Khaled AlDayoud conducted workshops to raise awareness about agricultural cooperatives. The workshop focused on establishing and operating agricultural cooperatives, aiming to enhance the cooperative movement in the region, particularly women's inclusion. In addition, a demonstration of apiaries was showcased at Abdullah Bayan Tahmour AlGhazi's farm, where FAO Beekeeping Expert Hassan AlBahareth shed light on beekeeping and preparing beehives for winter in a bee apiary, followed by an inspiring story about organic beekeeping, its benefits and the importance of adopting sustainable techniques. FAO Tropical fruit expert Yahya Hammam shared some good agricultural practices in the cultivation of pomegranates, figs and papayas in governorates of Hail region. Furthermore, insights into advanced irrigation systems were also presented, emphasizing the significance of efficient water management in agriculture. FAO Expert Eman Soliman shared knowledge and best practices to optimize water usage and minimize waste. Long-standing Partnerships Through joint efforts and partnerships, the Ministry of Environment, Water, and Agriculture, FAO, and supporting organizations aim to drive positive change and create a sustainable future for agriculture and food production in Hail and beyond. The World Food Day celebration in Hail was a testament to their commitment and dedication to promoting water and food security and supporting the cooperative community for resilient rural development. In conclusion, as the world faces increasing challenges regarding food security and water scarcity, it is essential for everyone to contribute to informed decision-making and sustainable water consumption practices. The World Food Day 2023 event in Hail concluded remarkably successfully and has proven to be a significant step towards addressing challenges and paving the way for a sustainable future of food and humanity on Earth.
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16 October 2023
Saudi Arabia Leading Efforts in Afforestation and Climate Change Adaptation in the MENA Region
To address the challenges of desertification and climate change adaptation in Saudi Arabia, the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification (NCVC) is taking a leading and pivotal role. The importance of afforestation and plantation in mitigating climate change cannot be overstated, hence one of the Action Hub panel discussions at the MENA Climate Week shed light on the significant contributions of NCVC in this area. Theresa Wong, Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) Natural Resources Officer (Climate) and FAO Team Leader moderated the panel discussion which mainly focused on the role of NCVC in promoting afforestation and the challenges of adapting to climate change in Saudi Arabia. The panelists, comprised of esteemed experts and key figures in the field, Dr. Khaled Abdullah Al-Abdul Qadir, CEO of NCVC, Eng. Ahmad Alanazi, General Manager of the Afforestation Programme at NCVC, and Dr. Ayman Omer, Programme Director of FAO Programme in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, shared their insights and perspectives on the topic. Saudi Arabia's leadership in addressing climate change adaptation In his opening remarks, Dr. Khaled Abdullah Al-Abdul Qadir emphasized the importance of tackling climate change adaptation challenges and combating desertification. He highlighted Saudi Arabia's leadership role in advancing global environmental sustainability, particularly through the implementation of the G20 Global Initiative on Habitat Restoration aimed at reducing land degradation and safeguarding terrestrial habitats. Dr. Khaled further illustrated Saudi Arabia's regional efforts in spearheading the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI), which aims to plant 50 billion trees and restore land equivalent to rehabilitating 200 million hectares in member countries of the MGI. At the national level, the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) focuses on wide range of climate actions including land rehabilitation, reducing GHG emissions, and promoting the widespread adoption of clean energy throughout the Kingdom. NCVC ‘s Strong Advocacy in Addressing Climate Adaptation Challenges Eng. Ahmad Alanazi discussed the efforts of NCVC in promoting sustainable plantation practices. He highlighted the commitment of the Center to afforestation programmes and plantation initiatives in Saudi Arabia. He added that NCVC studies and explores successful climate adaptation programmes and collaborate with communities to introduce innovative technologies and promote good practices. Alanazi emphasized the importance of planting suitable and native species that can withstand the country's harsh weather conditions. NCVC's initiatives aim to diversify tree species and enhance resilience and adaptability to changing climates. He observed that these efforts contribute to a greener and more sustainable future in line with Saudi Arabia's Vision 2030. By leveraging partnerships, innovation, and community involvement, NCVC continues to make significant strides in combating desertification, enhancing vegetation cover, and advancing climate change adaptation in Saudi Arabia. Saudi Arabia dedication and political commitment Dr Ayman Omer agreed with the statements of Dr. Khaled and Eng Ahmad, emphasizing the crucial role played by Saudi Arabia in promoting sustainability, environmental protection, and climate change action. He acknowledged the strong leadership, dedication, and political commitment of the Kingdom in driving these initiatives forward with the Kingdom emerging as a leading advocate for the environment. Through many environmental initiatives, Saudi Arabia is collaborating with neighboring countries and the global community to foster collective efforts to address critical environmental challenges. For example, through sustainable urban planning and development practices, the Kingdom is actively shaping environmentally conscious urban spaces. These efforts exemplify Saudi Arabia's dedication to long-term environmental stewardship and sustainable development. Saudi Arabia is bridging golden opportunities beyond borders Ayman concluded by observing that Saudi Arabia's commitment to environmental sustainability goes beyond its borders and has opened golden opportunities for other countries in the region. These opportunities allow the region to build strong commitment on the environment and enhanced their capacity for climate action. By promoting openness, sharing, and learning, the region is establishing itself as a region of excellence for climate action in a climate challenging environment.
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02 July 2023
2023 World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought marks preparation for the upcoming UNCCD COP 16 in Saudi Arabia
Empowering women in combating desertification and drought is a critical call for sustainable land management and restoration and directly affects the productive capacity of the ecosystems. Desertification and drought are the major global challenges threatening the livelihoods of millions of people, particularly those living in arid and semi-arid regions. These challenges are exacerbated by climate change, land degradation, and unsustainable land use practices. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, under the leadership of the National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification (NCVC) with participation from the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (FAO) organized a special event to mark World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought on Sunday, 18 June 2023 at the Mövenpick Qassim. With the World Day’s slogan "Her lands, Her rights”, the event was graced by His Royal Highness Prince Dr. Faisal bin Mishaal bin Saud bin Abdulaziz, Governor of Qasim Region which was hosted in a hybrid mode combining in-person and virtual participation. Saudi Arabia’s remarkable commitment to combating desertification Opening the event, His Royal Highness Prince Dr. Faisal highlighted the imperative role women play in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources. The Royal Highness Prince, Governor of Qassim Region was proud that Qassim is one of the regions in the Kingdom where the community has been actively involved in protecting the environment and conserving natural resources and elaborated on the region's afforestation efforts, starting way back in 2017. Under the banner of “Qasim Green Land”, the community continues the efforts of planting trees, rehabilitating land, and caring for the environment. He strongly emphasized the importance of empowering women in these efforts and engaging all members of the community, including youth, and integrating education on environmental protection into the school curriculum. Further, he stressed the need for a robust awareness programme, noting that without good communication and awareness, these efforts are doomed to fail. Dr. Khaled Al-Abdulkader, the CEO of the NCVC, in his opening speech, pointed up that the celebration of World Day to Combat Desertification and Drought underpins the commitment of the Kingdom to addressing the two pressing natural hazards. In the same line of thought, he turned the spotlight on the importance of engaging the community and creating awareness across the Kingdom, demonstrating solidarity with the global community, in which the Kingdom is at the forefront of combating desertification and addressing drought. The efforts have been validated through the launch of the Kingdom’s ambitious initiatives - the “Saudi Green Initiative” and “Middle East Green Initiative”, by His Royal Highness, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz in developing and sustaining vegetation cover and combating desertification locally, regionally and globally and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture with NCVC leading role in upcoming UNCCD COP 16, which will be hosted by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in December 2024. Through various significant actions, NCVC has successfully led the Kingdom on the right path to combat desertification and land degradation and achieved the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), especially SDG 15 and SDG 13. Women are the agents of change “It is time for all institutions and members of the society to join forces in restoring the land and managing drought”, says Ayman Omer, FAO Saudi Arabia’s Programme Director in his opening speech. He drew all attention to the importance of gender inclusiveness and investment in related programmes to attract women’s active and effective involvement. He felicitated the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia for its pioneering role in the global initiative in reducing land degradation and promoting the preservation of terrestrial habitats through the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives. He further commended the great efforts made by NCVC and the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in promoting sustainable management of natural resources and environment protection through dedicated and well-resourced national environmental strategies and plans. Dr. Abdullah Al-Buraiki, the General Director of Plant Diversity and Combating Desertification underscored the urgency of the NCVC in bridging the gap between desertification and drought. He emphasized the need to involve the local men and women to achieve efficient, inclusive, resilient and sustainable agrifood systems and to promote sustainable development in the areas for better livelihood and economy. In line with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, Dr. Al-Buraiki emphasized that NCVC prioritizes the study of desertification, forecasting droughts and mitigating strategies, using scientific methods, field measurements and artificial intelligence to produce accurate forecast models in monitoring the development progress effectively. Thematic presentation and dialogue on the theme “Her lands, Her rights” This annual year event was organized in alignment with the World Day theme “Her land, Her rights”. The event was attended by 200 participants and brought together governmental organizations, universities, researchers, and UN agencies in addressing Saudi women’s important issues. Twelve presentations in three sessions, eight of which were delivered by women, focused on updated Saudi Arabia policies and legislations in empowering women, investment opportunities for women land ownership, and opportunities for women landowners in combating desertification. The results of the event will contribute to the efficient mainstreaming of gender plans, community awareness programmes development, and women empowerment and access to resources, finance, training and support to help them manage and use their land effectively. FAO Sustainable Rural Agriculture Development Project FAO technical support to the event was organized within the framework of the Sustainable Rural Agriculture Development Project (SRADP), a multi-disciplinary project formulated by FAO and the Ministry of Environment Water and Agriculture in alignment with the National Transformation Program under the Saudi Vision 2030. FAO through SRADP aims to contribute toward achieving the national development goal of sustainable rural agricultural development in the Kingdom, including combating land desertification under the natural resources management pillar of the project.
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15 December 2022
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