Recalling the announcement of the Middle East Green Initiative (MGI) during the first Middle East Green Summit held on October 25th, 2021 in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, we, the Ministers / officials from Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Côte d'Ivoire, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Mauritania, Morocco, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Qatar, Somalia, Sudan, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Uzbekistan and Yemen with responsibility for portfolios encompassing environment, forestry, agriculture, climate, land degradation or associated responsibilities, met on October 26th, 2022 in Riyadh, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia to collectively address the acute challenges caused by land degradation and develop approaches to help mitigate them on regional and national levels.
We recognize that land degradation is an urgent global challenge, contributing to deforestation, desertification, climate change vulnerability, declining biodiversity, and negative impacts on infrastructure, people and their livelihood and economic wellbeing. According to the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES), biodiversity loss due to land degradation could reach 38%-46% of species globally by 2050 if left unaddressed, while the livelihoods of more than 3.2 billion people are already undermined by land degradation with direct effects on food security and social wellbeing. As an example, the economic impact of ecosystem services lost through land degradation is estimated by the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) at approximately 6 trillion USD per year, equivalent to more than 10% of global gross product. We note that such environmental and socioeconomic impacts of land degradation can be especially felt in countries across West, Central and South Asia, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa.
We came together in Riyadh on October 26th, 2022 to reassert our commitment to strengthen our collaboration through working together, under the umbrella provided by MGI, in order to address these regional challenges. As the first Afro-Asian environmental initiative of its kind, MGI will bring together member countries from West, Central and South Asia, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa and around the globe to work collaboratively to achieve the MGI objectives, which will be supported by international organizations and non-regional countries. The MGI will implement nature-based solutions to mitigate ecosystem and biodiversity loss through restoring degraded land, enhancing conservation and sustainable management of natural vegetation cover, terrestrial habitats and related natural resources. The initiative will be guided by the three Rio Conventions and the 2030 Agenda and aligned with the objectives of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration and the G20 Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Terrestrial Habitats.
We welcome MGI’s ambition of planting 50 billion trees, equivalent to rehabilitating 200 million hectares of land in MGI regional member countries, and will work collaboratively to achieve this ambition. The initiative will deploy innovation and best practices, leverage regional collaboration and harness international support under the oversight of an inclusive and participatory regional governance structure.
We jointly agree that MGI will coordinate its projects and activities under the governance of a Ministerial Council in which all regional member countries will be represented. A dedicated MGI Secretariat shall be located in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. On national level, project execution in regional member countries will be driven in close coordination with MGI’s governing bodies by cross-sectoral national focal points which will unite capabilities across relevant government entities within each member country. In order to achieve its ambitious targets, MGI will provide regional coordination and collaboration mechanisms, joint oversight, financial and technical support and drive the implementation of land restoration, ecosystem conservation and reforestation projects, capacity building programs and scientific research through the national focal points in member countries.
We, the founding member countries of MGI, endorse the MGI Charter annexed to this communique, outlining the initiative guiding principles, scope, governance, funding modalities, monitoring mechanisms, and membership of MGI, and hereby establish the Middle East Green Initiative in accordance with the provisions set forth in the annexed Charter. We agree to support the establishment of MGI Secretariat and MGI Fund, through the foundational steps described in the annexed charter.
We hereby voluntarily commit our full engagement to enable MGI to become a potent regional initiative that will drive significant impact and tangible results in reducing land degradation and enhancing restoration and conservation of vegetation cover in the region. We encourage regional countries in West, Central and South Asia, North Africa and Sub-Saharan Africa, as well as countries across the globe, to consider joining the initiative and provide their voluntary support for its projects and activities, to enhance conservation of environment and biodiversity, strengthen climate resilience and support the socio-economic wellbeing of regional communities and contribute to addressing global environmental challenges.