The third day of the Middle East and North Africa Climate Week (MENA Climate Week 2023) continued with parallel sessions of the four thematic tracks of the conference.
Two events under thematic track 1 on “Energy Systems and Industry” took place in the morning. During the first event, on critical minerals for the energy transition in MENA, Radia Sedaoui, UN Economic and Social Commission Western Asia (ESCWA), delivered a presentation on harnessing critical energy transition minerals for sustainable development in least developed and land-locked developing countries. In a subsequent event on opportunities, challenges, and barriers to implementing the energy transition in the context of Nationally Determined Contributions, Youssef Mouayed, Ministry of Environment, Iraq, reported on new projects on renewable energy and methane.
On thematic track 3 on “Land, Ocean, Food, and Water,” an event on MENA strategic initiatives to adapt to climate change and build long-term resilience highlighted examples from existing regional initiatives contributing to enhancing adaptation actions and building long-term resilience. In a second event, on systems innovations in the water sector, Ziad Khayat, ESCWA, noted that groundwater depletion rates in the MENA region have more than doubled in less than 20 years.
In the afternoon, three events under thematic track 2 on “Cities, Urban and Rural Settlements, Infrastructure, and Transport” and two events on thematic track 4 on “Societies, Health, Livelihoods, and Economies” took place.
During a track 2 event on forging pathways for sustainable and resilient buildings in the MENA region, COP 28 High-Level Champion Razan Al Mubarak introduced two initiatives integrating resilience into the built environment: the Buildings Breakthrough Initiative, to unlock near-zero emissions buildings; and the Arab Regional Roadmap, which provides a menu of tailored policies guiding the buildings sector for investment in sustainable construction. In the second track 2 event, on green procurement options to accelerate sustainable transport, Etel Patricia Bereslawski, World Bank, urged balancing quality and price in awarding contracts, instead of just accepting the lowest bid. A third event, on the role of public-private partnerships to promote climate-friendly waste management and circular economy principles, explored options and challenges to encourage collaborative dialogue and build trust between regulators and industry stakeholders.
A session on the “Greening Education Partnership” under track 4 brought together stakeholders from across the MENA region to share national, regional, and institutional experiences and best practices in integrating climate change education into curricula and strengthening extracurricular “green” skills. In a second event, circular carbon economy solutions and policies for resilient societies and sustainable economies, speakers discussed opportunities and pathways for private sector investment, and ways of developing and scaling technologies to tackle climate change.
The day also saw many other events, including side events on promoting coral restoration, nature-based solutions for water management in the MENA region, and the launch of a global research center for sustainable tourism in Saudi Arabia. Interactive Action Hubs also took place on opportunities and solutions for plastics, youth energy literacy and empowerment, and cryogenic carbon capture technology.