The first-ever Middle East and North Africa Climate Week, MENACW 2022, wrapped up on Thursday, March 31, 2022, building on the outcomes of the UN Climate Change Conference COP26 in Glasgow at the end of last year and providing important momentum for a successful COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh, Egypt, at the end of this year.
Around 4,000 participants joined more than 200 sessions at MENA Climate Week, with around 500 speakers from 147 countries. Conversations included participants from the host Government of the UAE, governments at all levels, private sector leaders, academic experts and engaged stakeholders.
MENA Climate Week organising partners led discussions on themes that are crucial to meeting the world’s climate challenge. The World Bank examined how to integrate ambitious action across key economic sectors in national planning. UNDP along with partner organisations led sessions on adapting to climate risks and building resilience into development strategies.
The UN Environment Programme led discussions on seizing transformational opportunities through technology innovation and breakthrough solutions. All of this contributes to progress in the UN Climate Change process.
At a series of Ministerial round tables and panel discussions at the beginning of the week, Ministers from the region agreed that the MENA region is facing several growing climate change impacts, including desertification, sea level rise and threats to water and food security. They also agreed that climate action opens opportunity for new business in the region, with good jobs and economic mobilisation.
Financial support, innovative technologies, increased sustainability action and coordination among all stakeholders are crucial to achieve change. And regional action is an opportunity to build on local knowledge and improve global resilience.
Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “The urgent need to upscale climate action in the region was the focus of MENA Climate Week. We have reaffirmed our continued commitment to the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, especially SDG13: Climate Action, and aligned our efforts to achieve our common climate goals. We have agreed that climate action goes beyond a simple energy transition. We must take a holistic, cross-sectoral, economy-wide approach with multi-stakeholder engagement to the transition of societies and economies to a more sustainable future.”
UN Climate Change Executive Secretary, Patricia Espinosa, said: “The inaugural MENA Climate Week showcased the readiness of leaders and stakeholders from the region to build momentum towards COP27 and accelerate implementation of the Paris Agreement in this crucial moment. Without urgent action, the MENA region will see impacts of climate change that put at risk the region’s ability to develop and thrive.
“Over four days in Dubai, we heard how leaders from across the region are stepping up to address this grave threat and how stakeholders are creating new economic opportunities in the transition to net-zero. Together, we can reduce climate risks and get on course to a more secure, inclusive and sustainable future.”
Egypt’s Foreign Minister and incoming COP27 President, Sameh Shoukry, said: “Holding the Climate Week for the first time in the Arab region has been clear evidence of the priority that the countries of the region give to international climate action and ways to combat the negative effects of a phenomenon that has seen its repercussions and impacts extend to multiple aspects of life in our countries.
“Egypt seeks to make the twenty-seventh session of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change a milestone in the field of international climate action, in which pledges and promises are transformed into actual implementation on the ground.”
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), and MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA), said: “The timely MENA Climate Week served as the first event focusing on the international climate agenda for 2022. It built on the momentum of the Paris Agreement and the COP26 in Glasgow, the UK last year. It is a driving force for regional and international stakeholders to collaborate for the implementation of recommendations and the UN Sustainable Development Goals 2030.
“The MENA Climate Week took place at the beginning of a critical decade in terms of climate protection and combating global warming. The event has galvanized regional support and collaboration among regional government entities, private organisations and civil society to pave the way for hosting COP27 in Egypt this year and COP28 in the UAE next year.”
Also in Dubai, the UN High-Level Climate Action Champions set out their vision of ambitious climate action on the route to COP27 in Sharm el-Sheikh this year for non-State actors, including cities, regions, businesses and investors. COP26 Champion Nigel Topping and the newly appointed Egyptian Champion for COP27 Mahmoud Mohieldin said in a joint statement:
“It has been a great pleasure to launch the 2022 Work Programme of the Marrakech Partnership at MENA Climate Week in Dubai, especially because one of its major priorities is ‘regionalization’ and the necessity to make our agenda regionally and nationally relevant. As we look towards the Global Stocktake in 2023, this Work Programme will help support our mandate from non-State actors in a manner that gives impetus to the implementation of national commitments.”
As COP27 approaches in November, the Global Stocktake in 2023 and net-zero commitments by mid-century, events like MENACW 2022 will be important venues for transformative change, according to the UN Climate Change. In 2021, regional collaboration emerged as a driver of global progress.
In 2022 and 2023, Regional and Climate Weeks in Latin America and the Caribbean, Asia-Pacific and Africa open further opportunities to make progress towards implementation of the Paris Agreement and accelerate action to achieve internationally agreed climate goals.