The first-ever Middle East and North Africa Climate Week, MENACW 2022, opened on Monday, March 28, with a strong call to accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement. MENACW 2022 is being held through March 31 and is hosted by the Government of the United Arab Emirates (UAE) in collaboration with the UN and other multilateral agencies.
Governments and stakeholders are gathering in person for the inaugural Climate Week in the MENA region following last November’s COP26 UN Climate Change Conference in Glasgow.
Decisions at COP26 give clarity on adapting to climate change, reducing emissions and the climate finance needed to achieve bold climate goals. A common set of guidelines was agreed to allow all nations to move forward together. This is especially important for the MENA region, a major energy producing region where temperatures are set to soar if climate change is left unchecked.
Ms. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, said: “This inaugural MENA Climate Week underscores our commitment to drive collective action to combat climate change regionally and globally. The event will explore key issues that shape climate response in this region, such as resilience against climate risks, transition to a low-emission economy and collaboration to solve pressing challenges.”
In addition to hosting MENACW 2022, the UAE is the first MENA-region country to launch a plan for net-zero emissions by 2050. The plan includes 600 billion dirhams ($163 billion) investment in renewable energy. The UAE already boasts the largest single site solar park in the world, which is projected to save over 6.5 million tons of carbon emissions each year.
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, recognised the host country for its ongoing climate leadership: “The Glasgow Climate Pact agreed at COP26 recognizes the powerful potential of regional collaboration to drive global progress.
MENA Climate Week 2022 advances efforts to open opportunity in the transition to net-zero emissions and protect communities and economies against the worst impacts from climate change. Bringing together stakeholders to discuss regional solutions strengthens the global response to climate change,” she said.
Mr. Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of the World Green Economy Organisation and Managing Director and CEO of DEWA, said: “MENA Climate Week 2022 is an opportunity to press forward, leverage the momentum and continue to enhance climate ambition and climate action. The UAE has shown a clear commitment to embracing and building momentum for the green-economy shift, along with significant investment in renewable energy. The UAE is one of the first countries in the MENA region to launch a concrete initiative to achieve this ambitious climate commitment and we hope others will follow.”
Achim Steiner, Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme, said: “As the world works towards COP27 in Egypt, this MENA Regional Climate Week will bring countries and communities together to drive forward the growing green recovery through the sharing of best practice on climate action in key areas such as climate finance, climate-smart agriculture, low-carbon mobility as well as innovative climate adaptation solutions.”
Dr. Venkata Putti, Programme Manager, Climate Change Group at The World Bank, said: “As the MENA region is among the most vulnerable to climate change, the upcoming inaugural MENA Climate Week is an indispensable platform and key milestone after a series of net-zero commitments made by Gulf countries. The World Bank looks forward to leading the consultations on national actions and economy-wide approaches to deliver sustainable, green recovery and decarbonisation.”
Inger Andersen, Executive Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, said: “The Glasgow Climate Pact kept the Paris 1 .5 °C target alive, but only just. It is now up to us to take this chance to be part of the urgent global climate action we so desperately need. The Middle East and North Africa Regional Climate Week offers an important opportunity to seize transformational opportunities for climate action in the region and accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels, ensuring a just and sustainable energy transition for all.”
There are three key areas in focus at MENACW 2022, which include:
- Integrating ambitious action across key economic sectors in national planning
- Adapting to climate risks and building resilience into development strategies
- Seizing transformational opportunities through technology innovation and breakthrough solutions
MENACW 2022 is also one of the first opportunities to carry regional momentum forward to COP27 in Egypt. The event encourages engagement with the UN’s Race to Zero and Race to Resilience campaigns and ensures that regional voices are part of the multilateral climate process.
Dr. Muhammad Al Jasser, President of the Islamic Development Bank Group, said: “The IsDB Group has committed at least 35 percent of all its financing to climate-friendly projects by 2025. This is at the core of our strategic objectives, aligned with building resilience and driving green economies accentuated by building sustainable infrastructure and promoting inclusive human capital development.”
Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), said: “Renewable energy plays an important role as urgency grows to align with 2050 net-zero goals. Over the last ten years, the MENA region has made incredible progress by doubling its installed renewable capacity. Seizing the economic opportunities presented by the energy transition in this region will drive diversification, sustainable development, prosperity and job creation.”
MENACW 2022 is part of the Regional Climate Weeks 2022 series, with meetings scheduled in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Africa.