ISLAMABAD: The partnership of Pakistan and Saudi Arabia will enable both countries to strengthen their resilience to climate change and protect socio-economic sectors from its adverse impact. It marks the beginning of a new chapter in diplomatic ties between the two countries.

This was said by Special Assistant to the Prime Minister on Climate Change Malik Amin Aslam while addressing a press conference at the Ministry of Climate Change on Tuesday.

A seven-member Saudi delegation headed by Dr Khalid bin Abdullah was also present on the occasion. They are on a visit to gain practical knowledge of implementation of the globally-acclaimed Ten Billion Tree Tsunami programme and other green initiatives taken by Pakistan.

“All these green initiatives are for greater collaboration between the two countries. Pakistan’s green initiatives are globally praised and we wanted to see it on the ground and visit in person and see the plantation sites of the Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation project,” Dr Khalid said, adding that the Saudi government also wants to achieve the target of planting 10 billion trees in the kingdom under the Saudi Green Initiative.

“The Saudi Green initiative aims to plant 10 billion trees while rehabilitating 200 million hectares of degraded land. The target also represents 4 percent of the global drive to reverse land degradation and 1 percent of the global effort to plant one trillion trees.

“As planned, 30pc of the kingdom or 600,000 square kilometres will be protected areas and efforts will be made to protect coastal environments,” he added.

The Saudi government wants to make its national parks larger and counter the growing impact of climate change in the country, Dr Khalid said, adding the focus of the plantation would be on indigenous species that are climate adaptable.

Mr Aslam said: “The KSA delegation wants to study Pakistan’s on-ground initiatives whereas in the next phase, a joint working group will be created to spearhead the partnership under the Saudi Green Initiative. It was because of the successful nature conservation and ecosystem restoration endeavours under the world-acclaimed Ten Billion Tree Tsunami Plantation project of the country that Pakistan was declared Asia Pacific Forestry Champion by the United Nations Environment Programme.”

The Saudi delegation has arrived in Pakistan to learn from Pakistan’s experience in forestry, he said, adding, “They will visit our national parks, mangroves, and ten billion plantation sites.”

Dr Khalid is the chief executive officer (CEO) of the National Centre for Vegetation Cover and Combating Desertification, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA).

Published in Dawn, January 26th, 2022

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