21 March, 2022
Under the auspices of the University President, Dr. Tony Chan, and the CEO of the Center for Vegetation Development and Desertification Prevention, Dr. Khaled Al-Abdulkader, the Center for Desert Agriculture (CDA) at KAUST signed an agreement with Imar Engineering Consulting, lead of the consortium mandated to deliver the implementation plan for the Greening Saudi Project of the Saudi Green Initiative, to provide the scientific and technical leadership on the project and partnering with Imar in the delivery of its overall strategy. The agreement signifies the official commencement of key scientific and technical studies between both organisations.
The CDA is providing the scientific and technological foundation of the strategic planning for an optimized, sustainable, and ecologically viable increase in the vegetative footprint of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. This will outline what species to plant where, when, by whom and why—as well as how to maintain the proposed implementation sustainably. This provides an integrated system of afforestation strategies and initiatives for the different habitats in the kingdom.
The core challenges in the afforestation program of the Saudi Green Initiative are plant survivability and ecological sustainability. Water, of course, is central. On a global level, KAUST is at the forefront of scientific research and development in these fields.
Eng. Khalid Al Othman from Imar Engineering Consultants stated, “From the very beginning we looked for capable and reliable partners to team up with to form a solid consortium that covers all the expertise, capacities, knowledge and skills to collectively do the job and deliver this important mandate. … And here we are hand and hand with KAUST working on exploring, accumulating, and analyzing knowledge to establish a profound and a solid scientific foundation of understanding for developing a solid, comprehensive, practical and feasible implementation plan for a vast ambitious mandate.”
The Saudi Green Initiative has been established to lead the work required for the Kingdom to meet the pledge made at COP26 to deliver net zero carbon emissions by 2060.
The Saudi Green Initiative has three primary goals: to reduce emissions; protect land and sea; and Greening Saudi. Greening Saudi, a key component of the initiative, is tasked with planting 10 billion trees across Saudi Arabia - turning the desert green and rehabilitating 40 million hectares of land over the coming decades. In addition to carbon sequestration, tree planting can improve air quality, reduce sandstorms, combat desertification, and lower temperatures in adjacent areas.
The task of overseeing the realization of this target has been entrusted to the National Center for Vegetation Cover, headed by Dr. Khaled Al-Abdulkader.
The strategies, feasibility studies and implementation planning are being undertaken by a consortium headed by Imar Engineering Consultants.
Dr. Tony Chan stated, “KAUST and the Center for Desert Agriculture are proud to be part of this work. ... This agreement will enable work to be done for a central part of this national study.” He added that “It is fantastic that the Kingdom is putting science front and center of the strategic planning for this remarkable project, and we are proud that KAUST can make such an important contribution. As a university of science and technology, whose remit is to not only do top quality research but deliver that research for the benefit of the Kingdom and world, we are pleased that our scientists are able to use their knowledge and experience to help the Kingdom meet its COP26 pledges, and improve the environment for all in this vast land.”
FROM LEFT TO RIGHT: ENG. KHALID AL OTHMAN, DR. TONY CHAN, AND DR. KHALED AL-ABDULKADER AT THE SIGNING CEREMONY