On October 26, 2022, His Excellency the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadley chaired a ministerial meeting to approve the Middle East Green Initiative governance charter.
Ministers and officials from 20 countries from the continents of Asia and Africa and a number of international and regional organizations participated in the meeting which took place in Riyadh.
The minister emphasized the importance of the meeting as an important step to activate the MGI by establishing a framework for the joint work of countries in the region to protect the environment, achieve the ambitious targets of MGI and contribute to the economic development of the region.
Al-Fadley added that the development of the MGI governance charter went through several stages, starting from the initial design of the initiative's scope and governance, followed by a series of bilateral meetings with many countries in the region.
In September 2022, country representatives jointly finalized the initiative charter and its proposed governance in preparation for approval at the ministerial meeting. Going forward, the outcome of the meeting will be presented at the second MGI summit to be held in November in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt.
His Excellency affirmed that the objectives of the Middle East Green Initiative will be achieved by active participation of all member countries and partners. In order to fulfil its goals, all efforts must be aligned, intensified and unified at the national, regional and international levels. His Excellency is looking forward to the establishment of a dedicated MGI Secretariat to launch the implementation of the initiative after adoption the final version of the initiative charter by member countries.
The Deputy Minister for Environment, Dr. Osama Faqeeha, confirmed the Middle East Green Initiative aims for international cooperation to address common challenges, knowledge exchange and setting a roadmap for action. Furthermore, the initiative will provide or facilitate financial support for MGI projects and activities. He added that the initiative has many goals such as reducing land degradation, restoring vegetation cover, biodiversity and promoting adaptation.
Dr. Faqeeha noted the importance of private sector participation in all activities of the initiative. He pointed out that the member countries, along with relevant entities and the private sector, will establish a fund for the initiative. It will be led by a committee of donors that finance the fund.
Highlighting the adverse effects of land degradation, Dr. Faqeeha added: "More than 3 billion people are undermined by land degradation and the cost of ecosystem services lost through land degradation is over 6 trillion USD per year. Land degradation will threaten up to 46% of species with extinction by 2050. Over 70% of ice-free terrestrial ecosystems have been transformed from their natural state for human use."
Dr. Faqeeha said the governance framework for the initiative was designed based on four main principles that are collaborative and inclusive oversight, national, regional, and international linkages, accountability and transparency and science-based decision-making.
The Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw highlighted that the leadership of Saudi Arabia on land restoration is undeniable. He also referred to the effects of land degradation.
"We are truly looking forward to the next Conference of the Parties of the UNCCD to be held in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in 2024 " Thiaw added.
At the end of the meeting, His Excellency the Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture Eng. Abdulrahman Al-Fadley announced the ministerial approval for the MGI governance charter and scope of the initiative. The charter will provide a strong framework for regional cooperation to reduce land degradation, restore vegetation cover, biodiversity and promote adaptation, food security and social wellbeing. The charter is an important building block to activate the initiative and achieve Sustainable Development Goals.