If there is one thing Saudi Arabia is clear about, it is that its economy cannot continue to depend exclusively on oil. That is why, for some time now, they have been focusing a large part of their efforts on diversifying their economy, which, at the same time, can support the fight against climate change. In addition to certain initiatives such as the Sustainable Tourism Global Center (STGC), two new ones have now been announced by Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman at the Middle East Green Initiative Summit, at a cost of more than ten billion dollars, of which Riyadh will contribute around 15%.
Bin Salman said the aim of the summit is to "join forces and coordinate our efforts to protect the environment, tackle climate change and develop a roadmap to reduce carbon emissions in the region by more than 10 percent of the global contribution". This is a very ambitious goal to be achieved, among other activities, through the planting of 50 billion trees, which would be the world's largest tree planting programme. This action, says the crown prince, "will contribute to achieving 5 percent of the global afforestation target".
The 39 billion Saudi Rials - just over $10 billion - will be invested in a number of initiatives, including the establishment of an investment fund for carbon economy solutions, a regional programme to reduce emissions, and the creation of a cooperation platform aimed at implementing the concept of a circular carbon economy. Mohamed bin Salman believes that "there are gaps in the regional climate action system", and that is why they must coordinate and exchange knowledge and technology in order to accelerate the achievement of climate goals.
In addition, numerous new projects were also announced at the summit, such as the creation of "a regional storm early warning centre, a regional centre for sustainable fisheries development and a regional cloud seeding programme". The region's climate change efforts, driven by Saudi Arabia's leadership, will be key to the future of green economies. They will also play an important role in diversifying the economic sector that Riyadh has been focusing on for years in its quest to move away from the oil dependence that has always been linked to the country's financial situation.
Vision 2030 is arguably the most ambitious initiative in this regard. The goal is to make Riyadh one of the ten largest urban economies in the world. Foreign investment in the Saudi capital is expected to soar in a deal worth close to $20 billion. There are already deals in place for the headquarters of top-level companies such as Price Waterhouse Coopers (PWC), Deloitte, Pepsi, Bosch and Bechler. Mutasem Dajani, CEO of Deloitte, says: "Riyadh is undergoing a remarkable transformation to reinforce its position as one of the world's leading global centres for business, tourism and quality of life".
Saudi Arabia continues to expand its efforts both in the fight against climate change and in the diversification of its economy. In some cases, as in the case of the STGC project, they are combining the two aspects to combat the climate crisis while expanding their financial range of action. Sustainable Tourism Global Center aims to grow the tourism sector while creating new jobs. However, it is also looking to the Paris Agreement to encourage compliance with the emissions limits set out in the treaty.