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Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Second Forum at COP27

In 2021, under the leadership of HRH The Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) in Riyadh unveiled the roadmap to scale Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy capacity, reduce emissions, and invest in pioneering new green technologies. The framework announced Saudi’s aims to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2060 with initiatives in the energy sector also designed to reduce carbon emissions by 278 million tons annually by 2030.

As pledged in the first SGI in 2021, the Kingdom joined the Global Ocean Alliance with the aim of protecting at least 30% of global oceans in Marine Protected Areas (MPAs). Additionally, under the patronage of HRH the Crown Prince has advanced the development of “The Red Sea” and “AMAALA” as two sustainable tourism destinations. The Red Sea Project is designed as a carbon neutral resort, with no waste-to-landfill and no single use plastic. Marine spatial planning and turtle tagging projects will also be undertaken. AMAALA is situated in the Prince Mohammad bin Salman Natural Reserve and will be powered by 100% renewable energy with zero connection to the national grid and have a zero-carbon footprint. AMAALA will also features a Marine Life Institute at Triple Bay that works to conserve and enhance the local ecosystem.

The second gathering of the SGI forum occurred in Sharm El Sheikh alongside COP27 in Egypt from November 11-12, 2022, with the theme “From ambition to action.” Prince Abdulaziz Bin Salman Bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Saudi Arabia's Minister of Energy, opened the two-day forum. The event discussed investments in renewables, phasing out of harmful fuels, energy efficiency programs, new targets, and community-wide mobilization. Initiatives announced totalled almost $187 billion, all aimed at further developing the green economy, creating quality job opportunities, and advancing the aims of Vision2030.

Within the field of maritime advancements under the Saudi Green Initiative, the first Forum, Saudi Arabia has committed to protecting 30% of its terrestrial and marine and will work in partnership with international leading biodiversity protection organizations like the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN). This will serve to protect and enhance conservation efforts of the abundant wildlife and natural environment, as well as support critical ecosystems by determined categories and types of terrestrial and marine protected areas.

A timeline of marine protection in the SGI include:

· 2023 Mangrove Plantation Pilot at Jeddah Islamic Port - Planting mangroves to contribute to cleaning seawater, enriching marine biodiversity, and restoring aquatic life.

· 2024 Reef revival initiative - Promoted conservation and reduce coral reef habitat damage using techniques such as transplantation.

· 2025 National strategy for sustainable use of costal and marine areas - Sustainable management and conservation of costal area environments develop a national strategy for sustainable use of costal and marine areas, aiming to conserve marine biodiversity and reduce damage to coral reef and coral reef habitats.

· 2025 Turtle nesting conservation - Ras Baridi inaugurate a turtle nesting conservation program, increases turtle nesting rates by 20% by 2023 and increase hatchling survival rates to 30% by 2025.

· 2025 Biodiversity protection areas - designate 10 biodiversity protection areas preserve over 500 species of plants and animals including at least 55 species endemic to the Arabian Peninsula across an area totalling 977 km2.

· 2030 Planting - plant 100 million mangrove tress to offset 96 million tons of CO2 stabilize coastline ecosystem and prevent erosions.

The second SGI also highlighted six memorandums of understanding (MOU)’s with six governments- The United States, Germany, the United Kingdom, South Korea, Singapore, and Greece with the objective of enhancing collaboration on hydrogen technology.

Building on the first SGI that highlighted the Circular Carbon Economy (CCE) the second instalment included the announcement of the CCE Knowledge Hub collaborating with the United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (ESCWA) to establish a regional centre to advance emissions reductions. The centre aims to provide opportunities for regional collaboration to accelerate emissions reduction and facilitate the implementation of the CCE.

During the SGI Forum, the Minister of Energy also announced the signing of a Joint Development Agreement with Saudi Aramco and its partners for the largest planned carbon capture and storage (CCS) hub in the world. The centre in Jubail Industrial City will start operating by 2027 and be able to extract and store 9 million mtpa of CO2 in its first phase, supporting Saudi Arabia’s aim to extract, use and store 44 mtpa of CO2 by 2035.

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