By Checky Abuje
The second Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Climate Week opened today, with a packed schedule of events designed to highlight challenges and solutions in a region that is among the most vulnerable to the effects of climate change.
Taking place in Riyadh from October 8-12 and hosted by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the MENA Climate Week discussions will feed into the end-of-year United Nations Climate Change Conference (COP28). to Dubai.
Participants in Riyadh will discuss challenges and opportunities for climate action and support in the MENA region, which will help inform the global stocktaking and accelerate the implementation of the Paris Agreement.
The global stocktake, which concludes at COP28, is an opportunity to critically assess the global position on climate action and chart a path forward through increased ambition and action to limit global warming at 1.5°C.
HRH Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Minister of Energy, said: “We are pleased to host the second edition of MENA Climate Week in Riyadh, a sign of the Kingdom’s unwavering commitment to exploring all solutions to the climate challenges we currently face. MENA Climate Week will explore the advancement of climate action and inclusive approaches, including the circular carbon economy approach which promotes the use of all available technologies, forms of energy and mitigation opportunities that would help achieve climate goals.
The entire MENA region is a climate change hotspot, with climate models predicting temperatures 20% higher than global averages. It is already the most water-scarce region in the world – and rising temperatures are expected to lead to more persistent and acute drought.
More than 60% of the region’s population has little or no access to drinking water, and 70% of its GDP is vulnerable to water stress. Given that 70% of MENA’s agricultural production is rain-fed, the region is extremely vulnerable to changes in temperature and precipitation resulting from climate change.
Simultaneously, MENA countries have the potential to be at the forefront of renewable energy and innovative technologies, attracting investments and facilitating technology transfer, thereby positioning MENA countries as leaders in the global transition to green development.
“The Middle East and North Africa region is at a crossroads, facing not only the devastating impacts of climate change, but also the challenge of transitioning their economies to ensure prosperity in a world aligned with 1.5°C,” said Simon Stiell, executive secretary of UN Climate. Change. “MENA Climate Week provides a platform to highlight regional solutions and innovations, paving the way for enhanced collaboration across borders, sectors and disciplines. »
“Climate change is not an imminent threat – the MENA region knows this from direct experience with severe heatwaves and water shortages. This Climate Week, I invite participants to seize the opportunity to shape a resilient future for the MENA region and beyond. Let’s harness innovation and inspire transformative action, because every fraction of a degree counts,” said Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP).
“Climate change, environmental degradation and resource scarcity are already undermining development progress in the Arab States region, exacerbating inequalities, eroding social cohesion and precipitating new threats to public health, peace and security,” said UN Deputy Secretary Abdallah Al Dardari. UNDP Director-General and Director of the Regional Bureau for the Arab States. “Increasing investments in clean energy and climate resilience will bring multiple benefits, not only for climate change mitigation and adaptation, but also for job creation and social inclusion. »