WASHINGTON, 3rd October, 2022 (WAM) — The second annual TRENDS – Atlantic Council conference, held in Washington DC, under the theme “Sustainable Middle East Security: Climate Change, Challenges and Alternatives”, s was recently completed with recommendations on the way forward to mitigate the effects of climate change.
Among these recommendations are investing in research and development, strengthening regional and international partnerships, promoting initiatives to improve resilience and developing the production of technologies that facilitate the transition to renewable energy.
The conference also called for the establishment of an education system that supports environmental sustainability, in addition to smart solutions and innovative policies to deal with the impacts of climate change.
In her closing remarks, Sumaya Al-Hadhrami, Deputy Managing Director of TRENDS Research and Advisory, said recommendations included strengthening regional cooperation, integrating common resilience and adaptation frameworks, investing in renewable energy technologies and infrastructure, the introduction of innovative initiatives to ensure climate security in the region and make it an integral part of national and regional security, as well as the strengthening of individual responsibility and for climate action in the region, while encouraging and supporting entrepreneurial activities in the fields of climate protection, renewable energy and the localization of environmentally friendly technologies.
Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, CEO of the UAE Independent Climate Change Accelerators, also addressed the topic of climate diplomacy as a growing foreign policy challenge, with a focus on COP 28.
She pointed out that the Earth is rapidly deteriorating and that there has been an astonishing change in climatic conditions around the world, as evidenced by extreme heat waves in Europe and devastating floods in Asia. She indicated that climate diplomacy is a key factor in boosting collective cooperation, noting that the UAE has always recognized the importance of global collaboration and knowledge exchange to build sustainability.
Under the leadership of Sheikha Shamma, UICCA was created to advance these pillars, acting as a catalyst for international partnerships and supporting the country’s transition to a green economy.
The opening speech on the second day of the conference was delivered by Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, who said that the devastating floods in Pakistan, severe drought and heat waves that swept through Europe last summer, along with the destructive wildfires in the United States, are warning signs about the urgency of preparing for a new climate reality. She highlighted the UAE’s belief in multilateralism as a powerful tool to create a sustainable future and called for a collective and coordinated response to climate change. She also underscored the UAE’s commitment to following a climate-neutral development path and turning promises into concrete actions and results.
The second day of the conference consisted of two sessions. The first session, titled “Between COP27 and COP28: Diplomatic Efforts of Middle Eastern Countries in the Fight Against Climate Change”, explored the role of climate summits in facilitating the transition to a low-carbon economy. and how geopolitical factors relate to climate diplomacy. The discussion was moderated by Awadh Al-Breiki, Managing Director at TRENDS Research and Consulting.
Asit K. Biswas, Distinguished Visiting Professor at the University of Glasgow (UK) and Gujarat University (India), Director of International Water Management (Singapore), and Managing Director of the Center for Water Management Third World (Mexico), assessed the commitments and pledges made at COP 26. He said that when COP 26 ended in Glasgow, there was greater optimism than today. This, he said, is the result of unexpected and dramatic shifts in geopolitics, highlighting the Russia-Ukraine war and broken diplomacy between two of the world’s biggest carbon emitters, China and the United States.
Nuran Atef, Regional Manager for the MENA region of the United Nations Environment Program – Finance Initiative (UNEP FI), discussed new visions for building a sustainable environmental framework. She indicated that in 2017, UNEP FI developed a set of Principles for Responsible Banking (PRB), specifically designed for banking institutions. The PRB provides banking institutions with a framework for sustainable finance, which can be implemented both globally and regionally. Atef noted that these principles have helped to improve banking sustainability strategies.
Osama El Gohary, Assistant to the Prime Minister, Egyptian Cabinet, and President of the Center for Information and Decision Support, spoke about climate diplomacy as a growing foreign policy challenge. He explained that the world is facing a number of crises that challenge the multilateral diplomatic process to deal with global issues, including global warming. He said that the climate change crisis is part of the ongoing globalization, which requires strengthening cooperation to find solutions.
The second session of the conference, “Multilateral Green Security Initiatives: The Beginning of a New Green Era towards Collective Environmental Security in the Middle East”, highlighted the importance of regional and cooperative efforts in activating green security initiatives in the Middle East, as well as ways to mitigate the challenges posed by environmental insecurity. The session was moderated by Mohammed Al Mulla, Founder and Director of the Diwan Al Mulla Network.
Dr. Noura Mansouri, Research Fellow at the King Abdulla Petroleum Studies and Research Center (KAPSARC), MIT Affiliate Researcher and Expert at the World Energy Council, addressed the issue of regional use of multilateral green initiatives to improve the capacity of the MENA region to lead a post-carbon, resilient and inclusive economy. She explained that the barriers to sustainability in the Arab region are many and include water scarcity, air quality, energy, food security and climate change, in addition to urban divides. and rural areas, conflicts, political instability and crises. She added that Arab cities are among the 20 most polluted cities in the world, hampering sustainability efforts.
Alya Al-Awadhi, Acting Director of Consulting at TRENDS, focused on the economics of sustainable environmental security and the investments needed to achieve environmental security. She highlighted the close links between climate change, risk planning in the climate-security nexus, and ensuring long-term economic sustainability through private sector engagement and multilateral cooperation. She added that efforts to improve environmental security in the Middle East and North Africa must be continued with effective and economically sustainable environmental initiatives. She stressed the importance of these initiatives being multilateral and involving global cooperation.
Hamad Al Kaabi, editor of Al-Ittihad newspaper, discussed the role of the media in supporting green security initiatives in the Middle East. He stressed that the media has a responsibility to change perceptions and draw attention to sustainable development. He added, however, that the scientific complexity of the research poses a challenge for the media, which must convey the content in a simple and clear way, accessible to a non-specialist audience. He also pointed out that traditional media is not enough to capture the issue of climate change, as 90% of young people get their news from social networking sites.
William Wechsler, senior director of the Rafik Hariri Center and the Atlantic Council’s Middle East programs, said the climate crisis requires large-scale and comprehensive regional and international cooperation and partnership, which means that governments, institutions and the private sector are working together to mitigate and limit the effects of climate change. He added that the crises surrounding the Middle East require decisive and bold actions if long-term sustainable security is to be achieved.