‘Our time is now’: With two months to COP28, MENA Climate Week kicks off in Riyadh

By Climate Champions | October 8, 2023

This year’s Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Climate Week, opens in Riyadh today with a strong call for decisive, inclusive change and accelerated progress towards the goals of the Paris Agreement.

With COP28 in Dubai now less than eight weeks away, MENA Climate Week takes place through 12 October, hosted by the Government of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in collaboration with the UN and key regional and global partners.

The second of four Regional Climate Weeks to be held this year, MENA Climate Week will provide a platform for policymakers, practitioners, businesses and civil society to unpack barriers to a resilient, net zero world — and showcase practical solutions to help get us there. The week also presents an opportunity for the perspectives of regional representatives to contribute to the Global Stocktake process, concluding at COP28.

Climate change impacts like severe weather already disproportionately affect the MENA region, underscoring the urgency of bold climate action. Extreme heat waves have reached over 50 degrees Celsius in Iran, Kuwait and Oman in recent years, for example, while just last month Libya experienced unprecedented flooding. MENA is also one of the world’s most water-stressed regions, with more than 60 percent of the population facing difficulties accessing potable water, as the recent droughts in Palestine, Jordan and Syria highlight.

Yet this Regional Climate Week looks set to spotlight not only the challenges but also the abundant, locally-grown opportunities, including examples of private sector, city, regional and civil society leadership and innovation already at play across the region. This and more is needed to accelerate progress towards a resilient 1.5 C trajectory.

Highlights of the week will include:

  • Building momentum around the Just Energy Transition Collaboration (JET-Co) framework, including the vital role of business, cities, states and regions in fostering just energy transitions in local communities.
  • Showcasing the role of buildings as a climate solution, including the recommendation to work towards near-zero emission and resilient buildings by 2030.
  • Accelerating the implementation of Nature-based Solutions in MENA, including promoting collaboration to advance the pipeline of ‘shovel-ready’ projects.
  • Recognizing the central role of cities and subnational governments as vehicles to support the implementation of national country plans.
  • A look at resilience in the transportation and infrastructure sector including those being rolled out as part of the Sharm Adaptation Agenda – a set of 30 global targets that will build the resilience of 4 billion people by 2030, accelerating transformation across food and agriculture, water and nature, coastal and oceans, human settlements, and infrastructure, and including enabling solutions for planning and finance.

From economics to energy, livelihoods to land use, and adaptation to accountability, the programme of Champion events will bring to life cross-cutting themes and critical perspectives on ‘where next?’ for MENA and the world. The programme will bring specific examples of real-economy climate action which reduce emissions and benefit livelihoods now. These examples of on-the-ground action demonstrate regional and global solutions ahead of COP28.

“By establishing green economic policies, ambitious nature-focused initiatives and innovative finance solutions, we can build on non-state actor leadership to date and put MENA on the map as a green block,” said H.E. Razan Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, who kicks off a packed schedule of engagements in Riyadh today. “When it comes to trailblazing climate action in the region, our time is now.”

“With COP27 in Egypt and COP28 in the United Arab Emirates, there is a great opportunity to foster ambitious climate action in MENA and showcase practical solutions, initiatives and projects to the world,” added Dr Mahmoud Mohieldin, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP27, speaking ahead of the Annual Meetings of the World Bank Group and the International Monetary Fund in Marrakech, Morocco, where climate finance will also feature prominently.

“There are countless opportunities in the MENA region, including to invest in renewable energy and adaptation projects, further the Sustainable Development Goals, implement climate-resilient infrastructure and advance international cooperation,” Dr Mahmoud said. “Our region can be part of the solution to this global challenge.”

Find out more about MENACW, explore the Champions’ plans for the week and follow us on LinkedIn, Twitter and Facebook for the latest news and views live from Riyadh.