As the urgency builds to divest from fossil fuels internationally, countries across the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are convening this week to accelerate action against climate change ahead of the next UN Climate Change Summit (COP27) in Egypt.
For the next four days, power-holders will unite with young people and indigenous groups at the first-ever MENA Climate Week. They will discuss how to better design local economies, use technology and adapt to the threats of climate change.
Director of the United Nations Environment Programme, Inger Andersen, said: “The Middle East and North Africa Regional Climate Week offers an important opportunity to seize transformational opportunities for climate action in the region and accelerate the shift away from fossil fuels, ensuring a just and sustainable energy transition for all.”
More than 2,400 participants have registered for the event. These range from government ministers and non-governmental organisations to indigenous leaders and young people.
Key attendees will include government officials from Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates and Iraq – the world’s three largest fossil fuel providers excluding Russia.
The minister of climate change and environment of the UAE, Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, explained: “The event will explore key issues that shape climate response in this region, such as resilience against climate risks, transition to a low-emission economy and collaboration to solve pressing challenges.”
A time for urgent action and adaptation
Such efforts are vital to accelerating climate action in the region, where temperature rises are already striking with greater intensity than in other areas of the world.
Because of the resulting droughts, MENA countries are described by experts as “the world’s most water-stressed”, with devastating impacts on local people, particularly the most deprived.
Dr Venkata Putti of the Climate Change Group at The World Bank said: “As the MENA region is among the most vulnerable to climate change, the inaugural MENA Climate Week is an indispensable platform and key milestone after a series of net-zero commitments made by Gulf countries.”
The event aims to prepare the region for the next climate summit and build momentum for the region to move closer to goals set out at the last climate summit, COP26, held in Glasgow last year. These include reaching net-zero by 2050, protecting communities and mobilising finance to invest in climate solutions while working collaboratively to do achieve these.
Following on from the summit in Glasgow, COP27 is expected to unfold in the Egyptian resort town of Sharm El-Sheikh from 7-18 November.
Campaigners have expressed deep disappointment in most previous climate summits with last year’s event described as a “betrayal of the planet and the people” for watering down goals.
Inspired to act?
DONATE: To support Egyptian climate campaigners in the runup to COP27, donate to Greenpeace MENA.
JOIN: To get involved with urgent campaigns in MENA countries, find out how you can join Greenpeace MENA.