The Middle East and North Africa Climate Week (MENACW) 2023 began its second day with the launch of four thematic tracks that will provide key outputs from the region to decision makers at the upcoming UN Climate Change Conference (COP 28) in Dubai later this year.
Parallel sessions on the thematic tracks took place in the morning, on: Energy Systems and Industry; Cities, Urban and Rural Settlements, Infrastructure, and Transport; Land, Ocean, Food, and Water; and Societies, Health, Livelihoods, and Economies.
On Energy Systems and Industry, Beniamin Strzelecki, Student Energy Summit 2023, provided a young person’s perspective on decarbonization and the just transition, urging upscaling of opportunities, equitable education, and internet access. Riham El Gizy, CEO of the Regional Voluntary Carbon Market Company, said fossil fuels “won’t be switched off tomorrow,” but decarbonization is happening as fast as possible.
Nuran Atef, UN Environment Programme (UNEP), moderated the second track on Cities, Urban and Rural Settlements, Infrastructure, and Transport. Participants discussed unlocking finance for city-scale transformation through multi-level governance, as well as challenges and opportunities for financing large scale climate initiatives to transform cities in the MENA region. Andrew Deacon, Global Covenant of Mayors for Climate and Energy, emphasized that cities both within and beyond the MENA region are keen to learn, share, and replicate their experiences to unlock climate finance for achieving their Nationally Determined Contributions and National Adaptation Plans.
On thematic track three, Land, Ocean, Food and Water, a panel discussed the biophysical and socioeconomic dimensions of climate change impacts in the MENA region, alongside: the need to focus on climate adaptation beyond mitigation; the roles of data access and sharing; and innovative technologies for food production in a changing climate. Cassie Flynn, Global Director, Climate Change, UN Development Programme (UNDP), emphasizing that adaptation today looks different from adaptation in the future, stressed that policies generated now must future-proof policies in the future.
In the fourth track, Societies, Health, Livelihoods and Economies, participants emphasized the inextricable links of climate change impacts and policy decisions at all scales and beyond the region’s borders. Princess Mashael AlShalan, Co-founder of AEON Collective, stressed the importance of having “home-grown science” to address regional and national challenges not usually considered by global reports.
In a morning side event on Saudi Arabia’s domestic carbon market, Prince Abdulaziz bin Salman, Minister of Energy, Saudia Arabia, officially launched the web application for the country’s Greenhouse Gas Crediting and Offsetting Mechanism, making the Mechanism live and active.
In a High-Level Dialogue event, “Towards a Cool COP,” organized by UNEP and the Climate Champions Team of the COP 28 Presidency, Sami Dimassi, UNEP, warned that the MENA region is warming twice as fast as the global average and temperatures continue to rise. He called for everyone’s commitment to the UNEP-led global cooling pledge that will be launched at COP 28.
The day also included, among other events: a roundtable of the League of Arab States Ministers; affiliated events, including a Youth Stocktake; side events, including on accelerating the integration of nature-based solutions and financing MENA’s energy transition; and an interactive Action Hub on protecting forest ecosystems for climate resilience.