Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, affirmed that the UAE is committed to boosting collaboration between countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to enhance its climate ambitions to reduce carbon emissions, boost their climate adaptation, and re-allocate climate financing and investments to support this goal, and drive sustainable development.
MENA Climate Week 2023
Almheiri made this statement during her participation, as part of a delegation from the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, in the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week (MENACW 2023), held from 8 to 12 October in Riyadh. The event is hosted by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and organised by United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
High-Level GCC Ministerial Meeting
As the week kicked off, Almheiri took part in a high-level GCC Ministerial Meeting, featuring Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy; Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and COP28 President-Designate; Jassem Al Budaiwi, Secretary General of the GCC; Salim Al Aufi, Oman’s Minister of Energy and Minerals; Sameh Shoukry, the Egypt’s Minister of Foreign Affairs and COP27 President-Designate.
During her speech, Almheiri said that the MENA Climate Week comes at a critical time, with only 53 days remaining until COP28 begins in the UAE, and aims to share visions and solutions paving the way for further deliberations during the conference, which will feature the first Global Stocktake.
UAE’s Vision for a Just Energy Transition
“MENA countries share many of the dangers entailed by the climate change fallout, which requires promptly finding solutions that are more effective to boost their ability to face such shifts and adapt to them. The UAE’s view is that we must take swift action to lead a just and equitable energy transition for countries in the region, by replacing traditional energy systems with clean and renewable alternatives, while also ensuring energy security in the future,” she explained.
Calls for Support and Collaboration
Almheiri added: “Through the COP28 Food Systems and Agriculture Agenda, we see in these systems a safe haven for many of the countries in our region and the world, as they are among the most vital climate resilience and adaptation solutions that also help reduce global CO2 emissions. We have fast-tracked our efforts in this area by launching the Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action last July. And last month, we submitted an initial draft of the declaration to agriculture ministers across the world to hear their feedback, with the finalised declaration to be submitted for world leaders to sign.”
The UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment called on all GCC agriculture ministers to support the Emirates Declaration on Resilient Food Systems, Sustainable Agriculture, and Climate Action by ratifying it, and invited them to join the “Agriculture Innovation for Climate” initiative, launched in collaboration with the United States, and the “Mangrove Alliance for Climate,” launched in collaboration with Indonesia, to develop solutions to combat climate change and boost climate adaptation.
Emphasizing Inclusivity in Climate Response
Almheiri also participated in a Ministerial Panel titled “Towards a Global Goal on Adaptation that Adapts to a 1.5-degree world,” which saw the attendance of Dr. Rola Dashti, Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA); H.E. Adel bin Ahmad Al-Jubeir, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Climate Envoy; Yasmine Fouad, Egypt’s Minister of Environment; Aminath Shauna, Minister of the Environment, Climate Change, and Technology of the Maldives; and Leila Chikhaoui, Minister of the Environment of Tunisia.
The Role of Technology and Financing
During the panel, she explained that the consequences of climate change are unfair and unjust, disproportionately impacting some communities more than others. This only emphasizes the need for inclusivity in our collective response to the climate crisis. She noted that the UAE determined to ensure no one is left behind, and every voice is heard.
“During COP28, we plan to use this platform to generate further discussion about international cooperation, capacity-building and what further steps are needed to support developing countries and the most vulnerable amongst us,” Almheiri went on to say.
She indicated that technology and financing are the cornerstone in achieving that goal, by sharing tech solutions and ensuring their wide-scale deployment, while also creating flexible and streamlined finance systems to which developing countries have easy access.
The ‘Waste to Zero’ Initiative
Almheiri affirmed that supporting countries that are most affected by climate change is essential to bolstering their collective adaptation capabilities, taking into consideration the situation in each country. She also called on all those involved to engage in dialogue and true cooperation to ensure that climate action and environmental conservation goals are achieved.
The MENA Climate Week also saw Her Excellency Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Green Development and Climate Change sector at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, participate in a panel, organised by Tadweer (Abu Dhabi Waste Management Company), on regional efforts towards decarbonization of the waste management industry.
COP28’s Role in Addressing Climate Challenges
Al Hosany highlighted ‘Waste to Zero’, a global initiative launched by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment in partnership with Tadweer, to mobilise and advance waste decarbonization efforts, and to establish a circular economy platform. She underscored the importance of decarbonizing this sector, which is responsible for an estimated 3-5% of global greenhouse gas emissions, adding that the initiative will help limit pollution, as around 50% of solid waste in the world is being disposed off illegally or in ways that waste its recyclability value.
“The main objective of the Waste to Zero initiative is uniting strategic partners, waste management companies, waste producers, non-governmental organisations and academics to activate feasible solutions to decarbonize the waste management value chain. This aligns with our drive to reduce emissions across the sector, in line with the Paris Agreement and efforts to establish a circular economy,” she explained.
COP28’s Role in Addressing Climate Challenges
Mohammad Saeed Al Nuaimi, Acting Undersecretary of the Ministry of Climate Change and the Environment, is posed to participate in the Arab League Ministerial Meeting, where he will showcase key climate challenges facing the region, and COP28’s role in reaching practical solutions to these challenges by ensuring an organised, just and responsible energy transition.
Al Nuaimi will also highlight the importance of reaching an agreement during COP28 on the adoption of a comprehensive and just framework to achieve the global goal on adaptation, and enhance the ability of communities to combat climate change and limit its impact.
The Middle East and North Africa Climate Week (MENACW 2023) is one of four Regional Climate Weeks organised this year by the UNFCCC, in collaboration with global partners UN Development Programme, UN Environment Programme, and the World Bank Group.