PM Imran praises 'brother' Saudi crown prince's plantation drives, offers Pakistan's support

Published March 29, 2021
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his delight on the environmental initiatives by the Saudi crown prince and offered Pakistan's support. ─ File photo by Irfan Ahson
Prime Minister Imran Khan expressed his delight on the environmental initiatives by the Saudi crown prince and offered Pakistan's support. ─ File photo by Irfan Ahson

Prime Minister Imran Khan on Monday praised the reforestation and environmental initiatives recently announced by Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman, saying the crown prince's vision closely aligned with that of his own government.

In a letter penned to the crown prince and shared on Twitter, the premier expressed his happiness over the initiatives "aimed at protecting nature and the planet" and offered Pakistan's help in this regard.

In his tweet, Prime Minister Imran said that the "Green Saudi Arabia" and "Green Middle East" initiatives were similar to the PTI government's own "Clean and Green Pakistan" and "10 Billion Tree Tsunami" (TBTT) programmes.

The two initiatives, which will include the plantation of 10 billion trees in Saudi Arabia and 50bn in the greater Middle East, the expansion of protected areas to more than 30 per cent, the protection of marine and coastal environments and the generation of 50pc of Saudi Arabia's energy from renewable sources, were hailed as "highly commendable" in the letter.

The premier said that the vision of the Saudi crown prince closely aligned with Pakistan's own, with Pakistan also looking to invest in nature-based solutions to address the impact of climate change in the country.

"After successfully planting one billion trees from 2014-2018, our TBTT initiative is well underway across the whole country. We are also expanding our protected areas — over 15pc land and 10pc marine area — by 2023," said the prime minister in the letter, adding that the initiatives had demonstrated that tree planting not only protected nature and restored ecosystems to fight climate change, but also expanded eco-tourism and created thousands of green jobs for the youth and local communities.

Pakistan is also committed to "shifting our energy mix towards a clean and low carbon trajectory", said the letter. "We are targeting 60pc of our energy to be clean energy by 2030, which will require a major expansion of solar, wind and hydro power generation capacity in the country."

"Pakistan cherishes its cordial and brotherly relations with the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and we would like to extend our support for your royal highness's excellent 'green' initiatives.

"While our two countries maintain close cooperation on climate change issues at all multilateral forums, a meaningful and structured bilateral engagement can help advance our shared vision and create mutually beneficial opportunities for partnership," said the letter, adding that Pakistan would be happy to lend and share its support in the form of its experience, knowledge and lessons from its environment and nature programmes.

"The challenge of climate change is one that calls for greater international collaboration and a shared aspiration for sustainable development," stressed Prime Minister Imran Khan. He said that the world had no choice but to "tread this green pathway and a define a new development paradigm for the 21st century".

"I wholeheartedly appreciate your royal highness's efforts towards this transition."

Special Assistant to Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam had also addressed the issue on Sunday and said the Saudi government was following in the footsteps of the PTI government. "Pakistan has offered Saudi government technical support for its implementation of the programme."

10 Billion Tree Tsunami Programme

Launched in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa in 2014, the TBBT includes tree plantation and regeneration and focuses on supporting implementation of the UN’s Sustainable Development Goal 15 on proactively working to prevent degradation of forest land.

It has been internationally acknowledged and was praised in a session of the House of Lords, where the UK environment minister described it as a great achievement that the world could learn from and emulate.

“The project is one of the most ambitious tree planting initiatives in the world and is a successful precedent for others to follow. I absolutely, enthusiastically, commend and celebrate Pakistan’s TBTT initiative and the tens of thousands of jobs that have been created due to the project. It goes to show what is possible and what can be achieved,” UK Minister Lord Goldsmith of Richmond Park had said.

Lord Aamer Sarfraz, Member of the House of Lords in the UK and board member, World Wide Fund for Nature-Pakistan, had also acknowledged the successful implementation of the project.

“Pakistan is showing global leadership in tackling climate change. The project is an effort that all Pakistanis can be proud of. There is no doubt that 2021 is the Year of planet Earth, and by the 26th session of the UN Climate Change Conference of the Parties due to be held later this year, we hope to celebrate more successes from Pakistan.”

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