On World Environment Day, The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture organized a special seminar in cooperation with the United Nations Environment Program (UNEP) on the Role of Academia in Advancing Environmental Sustainability. The seminar was attended by representatives of 20 Saudi universities, academics and students, specialists, those interested in environmental sustainability, and several United Nations officials who are concerned about environmental issues.
During the first session, Deputy Minister of Environment Dr. Osama Faqeeha confirmed the importance of the pivotal role of scientific and academic institutions in preserving the environment locally and globally. That can be through providing the knowledge base and scientific research to address various environmental issues such as climate change, biodiversity, and others.
Dr. Faqeeha stressed the need to prepare the cadres to specialize in all environmental fields especially since the universities are incubators of innovation. He also pointed out that the ministry has established an agency concerned with research and innovation, with the aim of supporting innovation in all fields of environment, water, and agriculture.
"We need to take advantage of innovative technologies in various environmental fields" Dr. Faqeeha added. Also, he noted that the ministry's approach is linking scientific and academic research with the requirements of national environmental action through the framework of the Kingdom's vision and the National Environment Strategy.
For his part, the Representative and Regional Director of the UN Environment Programme (UNEP) - West Asia Office, Mr. Sami Dimassi discussed the importance of the academic role in solving environmental problems through innovation and research.
Mr. Dimassi mentioned the role of youth and university graduates in promoting innovation opportunities and intellectual capital development.
UN Resident Coordinator in Saudi Arabia, Dr. Rita Columbia said the United Nations is working to support the Saudi government to achieve the goals of Vision 2030. Also, she added how the UN and the government work to achieve sustainable development goals.
The seminar consisted of the following four dialogue sessions to discuss environmental priorities, review UN environmental initiatives, display Saudi students' contributions, and explore innovative environmental solutions and initiatives.