Ninth Conference of Environment Ministers in Islamic World kicks off in Jeddah
The Ninth Conference of Environment Ministers in the Islamic World kicked off today, Thursday, 19 October 2023, in Jeddah, organized by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO) and hosted by the Saudi Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, under the theme, “Toward Achieving Green Transformation in the Islamic World.” The Conference brought together high-caliber participation, notably environment ministers, delegations of ICESCO Member States and representatives of the regional and international environment, climate and agriculture organizations.
The opening session began with a recitation of verses from the Holy Quran, followed by the address of Eng. Abdulrahman A. AlFadley, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture, and President of the Conference, who stressed the importance the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia attaches to environment protection, as evidenced by the creation of a fund and five specialized environment centers covering all environmental issues.
He also stated that the Islamic world needs to join forces to protect the environment and ensure its sustainability, in light of the current challenges, calling for exchanging experiences and adopting the best environmental practices to sustain it for future generations.
For his part, Dr. Salim M. AlMalik, ICESCO Director-General, extended his thanks to the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques, King Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, and the Crown Prince and Prime Minister, His Royal Highness Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz, may Allah preserve them, for hosting this major event, stressing that ICESCO places environment issues at the top of its priorities and works tirelessly to find solutions to environmental dilemmas.
He also called upon decision-makers to further invest in and support the green economy and come up with new innovative solutions by capitalizing on the digital, information and artificial intelligence applications in addition to space sciences.
Furthermore, Dr. AlMalik underscored the significance of environmental issues for the Islamic world, given its vital geo-environmental location, which calls for community mobilization, especially among women, to support these issues. He also highlighted ICESCO Member States’ efforts in this regard, notably the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia’s “Middle East Green Initiative,” the Arab Republic of Egypt’s hosting of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP 27), and the State of the United Arab Emirates’ future organization of COP28.
At the close of his remark, Dr. AlMalik announced that the Organization will launch five scientific chairs dedicated to environmental issues in five universities across the Islamic World, to be added to its “Reforestation for Sustainable Development” initiative, launched this year by planting 50,000 trees in Mauritania and Togo, to plant 50 million trees by 2030. Dr. AlMalik also underlined the Organization’s commitment to supporting small-scale farmers in adopting smart agriculture; emphasized ICESCO’s readiness, as part of its Year of Youth activities, to support a youth-led mock Environment Conference and adopt its recommendations; and expressed the Organization’s keen interest to collaborate with the parties concerned to develop the Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management.
Speaking next, Mr. Hissein Ibrahim Taha, Secretary-General of the Organization of Islamic Cooperation (OIC), pointed out that the Islamic World is among the regions experiencing escalating impacts of global climate change. He stated that, as temperatures continue to rise, the Islamic World is faced with a multitude of environmental challenges that necessitate proactive management. He further highlighted the substantial contributions made by Islamic countries in mitigating the negative impact of climate change, along with their dedicated commitments and initiatives in the environmental field.
As the Conference Guest, Mr. Sergio Mujica, Secretary-General of the International Organization for Standardization (ISO), stated that ISO norms and standards are key instruments for achieving sustainable development, stressing the importance of joint international action in successfully protecting the environment and making a positive impact.
Mr. Ibrahim Thiaw, Executive Secretary of the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD), which will hold the next session of its Conference of the Parties in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia next year, emphasized the importance of striking a balance between traditional wisdom and technological advancements to combat drought, protect the environment, and achieve a sustainable, green future, reaffirming his commitment to promoting collaboration with Islamic countries and ICESCO.
Following the Conference’s opening session, awards and certificates were presented to 22 contestants from 18 ICESCO Member States, who won one of the four categories of the third edition of the Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World.
Subsequently, the Conference’s working sessions began with the adoption of the Draft Agenda and Draft Programme, and the election of the members of its Bureau, with Saudi Arabia as Chair, the People’s Republic of Bangladesh as Vice-Chair, and the Republic of Guinea as Rapporteur. Moreover, the members of the Executive Bureau for Environment in the Islamic World, whose General Secretariat is overseen by ICESCO, were appointed, namely Palestine, Djibouti, Oman, Guinea-Bissau, Niger, Nigeria, Pakistan, Brunei Darussalam, and Kyrgyzstan.