SGI: Youth will play a big role in Saudi Arabia’s environmental agenda

    02 Nov 2021

    Saudi Arabia hosted Saudi Green Initiative in Riyadh – a much-awaited event that set out the Kingdom’s ambitious environmental agenda.

    But the event is not only covered Saudi efforts to fight climate change but also rallied the broader Middle East region to comply with international targets, including limiting global warming to below 2° C compared to pre-industrial levels, Arab News states.

    Experts worldwide have emphasized the role of collaboration to achieve this, with Saudi Arabia demonstrating it with its remarkable hosting of the G20 summit last year – at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The efforts are not only coming from governments, though — one of the most reported environmental campaigns is coming from young people, which the UN said is just logical given they are the inheritors of the Earth.

    “My generation has largely failed until now to preserve both justice in the world and to preserve the planet. It is your generation that must make us be accountable to make sure that we don’t betray the future of humankind,” UN Secretary-General Antonio Guterres previously said in a statement.

    This was reflected in the upcoming SGI, where a parallel event focused on youth participation in the regional and global environmental agenda was held.

    The Youth Green Summit, which happened on October 24, is “a platform for environmental literacy, advocacy, and policymaking,” according to the SGI website.

    It featured interactive workshops and collaborative climate policy activities, as well as panels with leading youth activists.

    Saudi Arabia has a massive young population – almost 51% of the Kingdom is below 25 years old. The government has been empowering them to contribute to Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s “Vision 2030” to improve the quality of life in the Kingdom.

    A Saudi-based founder of a local environmental initiative said including the youth in discussions about the environment is “what will provide effective results.”

    “The future of national development in the Kingdom hinges on empowering its youthful majority,” Eshraq Al-Haddad told Arab News.

    She added: “The Kingdom has already made tremendous efforts to empower youth through programs and projects of national transformation initiatives, increasing their participation in society and the labor market.”

    Al-Haddad said many young Saudis have shown an increasing interest in environmental sustainability,. Manyare championing this cause by creating businesses or promoting environmental awareness through community activities or campaigns.

    “In a recent development, Saudi youth have been profoundly involved in the lead-up to the Saudi G20 Summit. Hence, youth have been the major beneficiaries of the chance for open dialogue and inclusive policymaking,” she said.

    The Saudi youth is “yearning for an active role to make a positive impact towards the environment,” Al-Hadded said, adding the “Saudi Green Initiative is a great step.”

    A 23-year-old Saudi-based diver, Joud Hamshari, said before the Youth Green Summit she is “thrilled” for this event.

    “We scuba dive to explore the underwater and enjoy the scenery of marine life. As divers, it is our responsibility to preserve the aquatic environment, and it is good to have the support of SGI to sustain the effort we do as scuba divers,” she said.

    Other divers like Hamshari have been involved in different activities to create awareness in their communities, including annual clean-up drives.

    Fifteen-year-old Saudi Nour Binmahfouz said: “As divers, it is our obligation to preserve the aquatic environment and educate those who have neglected their duties. With the support of the Saudi Green initiative, we divers will be able to continue with our efforts in spreading awareness as pollution in the ocean has skyrocketed.”

    The SGI Forum took place on October 23, followed by the Youth Green Summit on the next day.

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    As we mentioned here, World Green Economy Summit 2021 concluded with the announcement of the 7th Dubai Declaration.

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