Since the launch of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) in 2021, more than 43 million trees and shrubs have been planted, and 94,000 hectares of degraded land—equivalent to around 146,000 football fields—have been rehabilitated across the kingdom.
During the third edition of the Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum at COP28, Saudi officials and international climate experts took to the stage to discuss Saudi Arabia’s progress in achieving its ambitious greening target of growing 10 billion trees.
Dr Khaled Bin Abdullah Al-Abdul Qadir, CEO of National Center for Vegetation Cover Development and Combating Desertification highlighted the sophisticated technology and modelling capabilities at the forefront of the kingdom’s afforestation efforts. “We are using AI modelling to indicate the location of where we can plant these trees in the Kingdom. It’s essential, not only for studying the plant and soil, but also to see sand movement and for monitoring, especially in very difficult-to-reach areas such as mountains and coastal areas,” he said.
Community engagement at the heart of Saudi Green Initiative
Dr Qadir also commented on the strong community engagement around afforestation initiatives across the kingdom, revealing that “in the last two years, we’ve reached 150,000 volunteers”, including children and families.
Inger Andersen, executive director, UNEP said that she wants to “celebrate the fact that Saudi Arabia put it on the G7 agenda,” given that “it is a big issue affecting both millions of people and billions of hectares of land”.
Discussing next year’s UNCCD COP16, she said, “We are pleased that Saudi Arabia will be hosting COP 16 for desertification at the end of 2024. This is showing a ‘leaning in’ and a stepping up of an issue that desertification is part and parcel of the three conventions [on Biodiversity, Climate Change and Desertification] that were agreed on.”