‘We are protecting nature, improving quality of life’: Head of Saudi Arabia’s new environmental security force

27/12/20

Brig. Gen. Saher Al-Harbi, head of the Saudi Special Forces for Environmental Security (SFES). (Supplied)
  • The commander of the Special Forces for Environmental Security gave an exclusive interview to Arab News
  • Brig. Gen. Saher Al-Harbi explained how the SFES is protecting the Kingdom’s environment, wildlife and biodiversity

JEDDAH: In a speech on Nov. 12, Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman announced that the proportion of Saudi Arabia’s protected areas and nature reserves has increased from 4 percent in 2016 to about 14 percent today. The crown prince’s address to the Shoura Council touched on the issue of conservation, the projects that the Kingdom was implementing for environmental protection and the role of the new dedicated unit, the Special Forces for Environmental Security (SFES).

The SFES currently has 1,100 employees, but this number will grow to 10,000 in the course of the next four years to enable it to protect the environment, wildlife and biodiversity across the Kingdom and to enforce laws and regulations in conservation areas.

In an exclusive interview with Arab News, SFES Commander Brig. Gen. Saher bin Muhammad Al-Harbi confirmed that the force was already operating in several natural reserves. He made it clear that the SFES’s role is not limited to protecting wildlife and biodiversity, but goes beyond that. It penalizes activities that harm the environment such as illegal poaching and logging; prevents air, water and soil pollution; and prevents activities that could harm the natural ecosystems of mountainous, land and coastal areas.

Q: How many nature reserves fall within the ambit of the SFES?

A: The SFES has been entrusted with the protection of several natural reserves. They are Imam Saud bin Abdul Aziz Royal Reserve, Imam Turki bin Abdullah Royal Reserve, King Abdul Aziz Royal Reserve, King Khalid Royal Reserve, King Salman Royal Reserve and Prince Mohammed bin Salman Royal Reserve. The SFES uses modern technologies and advanced techniques for control, protection and monitoring of the areas where it is operating.

Q. How is the SFES working to achieve the objective aimed at improving the quality of life, a key objective of the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision strategy?

A. Environmental safety is one of the indicators of sustainable development and an important element of the quality of life as stipulated in the Kingdom’s 2030 Vision. It will contribute to the enforcement of environmental regulations in the Kingdom in order to reduce the pressure of violations that ecological systems are facing, restore their balance, achieve their sustainability and contribute to the improvement of quality of life and establishment of a society where all its members benefit from healthy lifestyles and surroundings that allow them to live in a positive, attractive environment.

The SFES was established to take on comprehensive tasks and responsibilities and enforce environmental regulations in all the protected regions across the Kingdom. Its duties include environmental security monitoring; environmental security investigation; detaining and arresting offenders; seizing objects used for committing offenses and issuing violation tickets; referring violators to competent authorities; and providing security back-up and support.

Its duties also cover receiving and following up on complaints, taking part in environmental emergencies, and participating in environmental awareness-raising efforts in cooperation with relevant bodies. The force also contributes to the development of policies, strategies and plans related to environmental enforcement, again in partnership with the relevant bodies.

The SFES’ function includes preventing activities that alter topographical features in conservation areas. (Supplied)

Q. Do you have a role in protecting conservation areas from activities such as alteration of topographical features, leveling of mountains or arbitrary dredging of sand for use in construction?

A. The SFES works for the protection of conservation areas against all harmful influences such as illegal poaching and logging; air, water and soil pollution; and activities that could harm the ecosystems of mountainous, land and coastal areas.

It also works to prevent any tampering with the vegetation in Makkah and Madinah regions, limit the spread of such activities, and enforce regulations against violators, while also cooperating with Public Security and other relevant bodies that have jurisdiction over these areas, to prevent their occurrence.

The SFES’s role is not limited to protecting wildlife and biodiversity but goes beyond that. (Supplied)

Q. The Kingdom’s land area is vast, with diverse terrain that is home to many species. How do you intend to cover a country of this size?

A. As part of its deployment plan, the SFES intends to focus on those parts of the country that hold special significance from an environmental standpoint. It will make use of the latest modern equipment and advanced technologies to cover the vast land area that falls within its scope, including regions that have rough terrain. The SFES cooperates with other security and environmental bodies and benefits from their support in doing its job.

The SFES has responsibility for all the environmentally significant areas of the Kingdom. They include royal reserves, forests, grasslands, parks, coastal stretches, bird sanctuaries, urban areas, suburbs, industrial zones, water resources, roads and their surrounding areas, land-border areas and marine protected areas.

In addition to the SFES, allied groups are also watching over nature reserves such as the Sharaan Nature Reserve near the town of al-Ula in northwestern province of Tabuk (Photo by Fayez Nureldine / AFP)

This means that it covers a geographical area of almost 800,000 square kilometers across the Kingdom through a main center located in Riyadh, six headquarters in the regions and 21 departments in cities and provinces, encompassing all the environmentally significant regions.

Work will also be initiated to establish additional departments in the provinces in a way that ensures that all the environmentally significant regions of the Kingdom are covered. The forces will be deployed geographically in stages over a period of four years.

Q. Poaching, which has led to the extinction to many wildlife species, is a problem in the Kingdom. What are you doing to bring it under control?

A. In its areas of operations, the SFES monitors all hunting activities and areas of importance for birds, arrests poachers, issues violation tickets against them and refers them to the competent authorities for the remaining procedures to be completed. We have noticed a significant decrease in hunting in the areas where the SFES has a presence. Wild animals and birds will hopefully find safe havens, leading to the recovery and flourishing of the Kingdom’s wildlife.

SFES patrols routinely check the cargo of passing motorists to ensure against violations of the Kingdom’s environmental laws. (Supplied)

Q. What are the penalties for hunting with firearms? Will new environmental security violation regulations be issued?

A. Those who hunt without a license using any method are arrested and referred to the competent authorities to be meted out punishment in accordance with the relevant regulations, keeping in mind that hunting with firearms is prohibited in any situation.

As for poaching penalties, they consist of a fine of up to SR 50,000 ($13,333) or imprisonment for a period of up to 30 days, along with the confiscation of any vehicles or equipment used to commit the violation.

Regarding protection of wildlife, there exist regulations and penalties for violations, and new regulations will be issued in the near future in accordance with the environmental protection regime stipulated in Royal Decree no. m/165.

Hunting of certain wildlife may be allowed during specific seasons but the use of firearms is forbidden. (Supplied)

Q. There are specific hunting seasons, but what are they? How will you prevent hunting beyond these seasons?

A. The specific hunting seasons are identified by the relevant authorities of the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, while licenses are issued to those interested in hunting activities in accordance with the regulations.

The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, represented by the National Center for Wildlife Development, recently announced that hunting will be allowed between Nov. 1, 2020, and Jan. 15, 2021. It will be permitted subject to clear controls and regulations as announced by the ministry, which cover the species that can be hunted, the equipment that can be used, and the areas where hunting can happen.

The SFES will be in charge of arresting all those who violate the regulations. All forms of hunting are prohibited outside these seasons. The SFES will enforce regulations in its areas of operations through environmental security monitoring and investigation.

Part of the SFES’ responsibility is to fight illegal logging across the Kingdom. (Supplied)

Q. Environmental awareness is of vital importance. What are your most plans for advancing this objective?

A. Taking part in environmental awareness-raising campaigns in cooperation with the relevant authorities is one of the most important tasks of the SFES.

It uses its media division and communication channels to increase awareness and to educate society on the importance of environmental conservation, community involvement through cooperation with the relevant public and private sectors; and participation in local and international events that promote environmental protection.

We believe that citizens and residents are partners when it comes to raising environmental awareness.

The SFES has developed programs to encourage community participation by partnering with civil society institutions and environmental associations and reaching out to the largest number of people possible. The SFES is also keen to take part in local and international festivals, exhibitions, conferences and activities related to environment and environmental security.

_________________

Twitter: @md_sulami

This article was first published in Arab News

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Raising environmental awareness in Saudi children

30/11/20

Saudi Arabia has made a number of efforts to protect its environment and resources. (Shutterstock)
Raising awareness starts from a young age, however, as children are inheriting a planet that is not fighting fit
JEDDAH: Foundations are being laid to increase levels of awareness and responsibility among Saudi children about caring for the planet and nurturing the environment.
Achieving environmental sustainability is one of the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan’s key goals.
Many environmental awareness groups are emerging in the Kingdom, and there are also books that teach the younger generation how to use resources wisely in the future.
Raising awareness starts from a young age, however, as children are inheriting a planet that is not fighting fit.
Former early childhood educator Nourah Feteih wrote a children’s book called “Adam and The Giant.”
She spoke about her story, why she chose the topics of pollution and global warming, and presenting these issues for Saudi children.
The book, which was inspired by her son Abduljalil, was published five years ago and aims to teach children from a very young age how they can be productive members of society by caring about Earth and how to keep it clean and safe.
“He always liked to help from an early age,” she told Arab News. “He was interested in everything with regards to the environment. Whenever he saw smoke rising from car exhausts or litter anywhere in the streets, he used to make it a point that he does not like pollution and wants it to stop.”
Feteih started educating her son from home and helped instill in him the importance of preserving the environment.
“I thought what if other kids at a young age would learn about this and become productive members of society and grow with this wonderful value, to actually make a great difference for your environment and your planet.”
Philanthropy is a cause very close to Feteih’s heart, and publishing “Adam and The Giant” was a way to give back to her community. She stressed that it was important to teach children about the environment at a young age, and highlighted how they loved to help out and feel included.
“I strongly believe that it’s in children’s nature to help in any way they can, and (they) have the drive of curiosity and learning innately. So, teaching them the value of caring about their environment and teaching them how it affects the planet they live on is a significant added value that they will grow up learning and will carry with them as adults.”
Saudi Arabia has made a number of efforts to protect its environment and resources, while also promoting environmental awareness through various initiatives.
Community groups have been actively engaging with the public and focusing their activities to include families and children.
Environmental awareness groups such as Hejaz Ploggers — jogging while picking up litter — have caught the attention of Saudi youth for their combination of sports and an environmental cause.
There is also a rising number of sustainability solution providers in Saudi Arabia such as Naqaa Sustainability Solutions, which is one of the Kingdom’s first social enterprises.
It was established in 2011 and has been providing waste management programs and community engagement initiatives as well as other services. Some of the activities include collecting waste, talking about environmental problems, separating waste in malls and children’s play areas, and also visiting farms and garden centers.
These two groups are among those that have taken the initiative to play a helping hand in advising children and families alike about the importance of keeping the environment clean, preserving it and ensuring that solutions can one day replace problems.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi Arabia launches ‘make it green’ campaign to plant 10 million trees

11/10/20

Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year through destruction and the logging industry. (Supplied)

Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture launched the “Let’s make it green” campaign on Saturday – an initiative aimed at planting 10 million trees across the Kingdom.

Over the next six months, trees will be planted in approximately165 sites to tackle deforestation.

The campaign was launched with several Saudi ministries tweeting tree emojis in a push to promote the planting of trees in the Kingdom.

Saudi Arabia loses 120,000 hectares of trees every year through destruction and the logging industry.

 

The environment ministry explained that the campaign comes as part of its efforts to work on developing natural vegetation cover and restoring biological diversity in natural environments, as well as rehabilitating degraded vegetation sites.

The campaign also aims to promote positive behavior to preserve and protect the environment.

Trees and shrubs that are threatened with extinction due to overgrazing, logging and uprooting, as well as the urban expansion will also be planted,

The Ministry of Environment reported that the campaign also aims to create a number of national parks, to spread seeds in a number of areas, and to plant forests in the Najran and Al-Baha regions.

 

This article was first published in Arab News

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Ready, steady grow: Saudi tree-planting initiative seeks greener future for all

Time: 07 October 2020  

Nabatik aims to work with Eastern Province municipalities and plans on expanding to others across the Kingdom, teaming up with nurseries to develop their capabilities while also encouraging business people to invest in nurseries. (Shutterstock)

Through his campaign, Mohammed Al-Khalid wants people to plant trees. (Supplied)

Mohammed Al-Khalid. (Supplied)

  • An initiative from engineer Mohammed Al-Khalid, Nabatik works for buyers and businesses in the Kingdom

JEDDAH: Faced with swaths of emptiness across Saudi Arabia’s desert landscapes, entrepreneurs are embracing corporate social responsibility and doing their bit to protect the environment.

Nabatik, an initiative from engineer Mohammed Al-Khalid, wants to give people the opportunity to plant trees through just a few clicks while supporting nurseries in the Kingdom in the process.

Deforestation has increased CO2 emissions in the atmosphere and rising temperatures have shown how harmful the impact can be on ecosystems — increased water temperatures, record-breaking summer heat, strong and devastating storms. But there is a way to undo some of the damage.

“All it requires is one simple act — planting trees,” Al-Khalid told Arab News.

Trees can help mitigate the consequences of climate change as they have great potential for carbon sequestration and are often seen as the easiest and most affordable approach to address global warming.

Thousands of acres of forest are being cut down everyday, and studies show what will happen in the future if more trees are lost. These frightening scenarios have prompted NGOs, government agencies and businesses to see what they can do to protect the environment.

Trees can help offset the carbon footprint, lower temperatures, help with energy efficiency at home, purify the air and minimize dusting, said Al-Khalid. “A neighborhood full of trees is a healthy neighborhood with healthy residents. It shades those who walk and brings peace to their mind.”

Al-Khalid, who is from the Kingdom’s Eastern Province, planted his first tree 20 years ago while on a journey with his father. “I was very much interested in trees and plants as a kid and, upon returning to the same area where I planted my first sapling, I found a sprawling tree where I was able to protect myself from the searing sun under its shade. It stayed with me and gave me the idea to start a business.”

HIGHLIGHTS

• The goal of planting a million trees by 2030 will help the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan for a greener Kingdom.

• Afforestation campaigns have been initiated since the launch of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy, and Nabatik plans to play a role in this vision and make an impact on the Kingdom’s biodiversity.

“We, the youth, are the custodians of the future and it is our obligation to ensure that we live on this Earth sustainably in order for future generations to thrive and prosper. There’s no question that trees and forests in the Kingdom should not be considered a secondary need anymore. They’re becoming a necessity, especially in a time where climate change might become an irreversible reality.”

He explained that the benefits of trees for livable and sustainable communities could be achieved by planting trees in urban neighborhoods and parks.

The Nabatik platform works for the buyer’s convenience.

Customers can choose from neem trees, ficus religiosa, bougainvilleas, bonsiana, giant lemon trees and more. The trees are delivered to people’s homes and planted. Customers will soon get the option to have the trees cared for to ensure greater longevity.

The trees on the website have been chosen for their ecological and economic viability. They can cope with harsh conditions, low water consumption and they cause no harm to infrastructure. They have a high carbon absorption and, at the same time, beautify urban areas and homes.

“The topic of sustainability is one of major concern on many forums, a daily point of discussion globally. Many Saudis have taken into consideration how to include sustainability in their business plans.”

The goal of planting a million trees by 2030 will help the Saudi Vision 2030 reform plan for a greener Kingdom.

Afforestation campaigns have been initiated since the launch of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman’s strategy, and Nabatik plans to play a role in this vision and make an impact on the Kingdom’s biodiversity.

Nabatik aims to work with Eastern Province municipalities and plans on expanding to others across the Kingdom, teaming up with nurseries to develop their capabilities while also encouraging businesspeople to invest in nurseries as growing and profitable ventures.

“The more businesses thrive, the higher the supply and demand would be,” Al-Khalid added.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi wind farm’s progress heralds a new era in clean energy

Time: 06 October 2020  

Saudi Arabia has moved a step closer to becoming the Middle East’s pace-setter in green energy and sustainability, with the delivery of the first consignment of turbines for a 400-megawatt wind-power plant. (Shutterstock))
  • Key construction milestone crossed with delivery of 20 turbines for Kingdom’s utility-scale wind farm in Al-Jouf
  • Kingdom’s renewable energy sector could create up to 750,000 jobs over the next decade, say business leaders

DUBAI: Saudi Arabia has moved a step closer to becoming the Middle East’s pace-setter in green energy and sustainability, with the delivery of the first consignment of turbines for a 400-megawatt wind-power plant.

Manufactured by the Danish company Vestas, 20 turbines for the $500 million Dumat Al-Jandal wind farm arrived recently at Duba port.

Saudi Arabia’s first utility-scale wind-power source, Dumat Al-Jandal is being developed by a consortium led by EDF Renewables of France in partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Masdar. Once operational, it will the largest wind farm in the Middle East.

Construction work commenced last August and commercial operations are due to start in the first quarter of 2022. Masdar and EDF Renewables respectively own 49 and 51 percent of the Dumat Al-Jandal project.

“We are proud to be among the first contributors to the Kingdom’s clean energy transition, working in collaboration with Nesma Holding,” said Yousif Al-Ali, executive director of Masdar. “When operational, Dumat Al-Jandal will displace 885,000 tons of carbon dioxide each year, while generating electricity to power 70,000 homes.”

The turbines comprise towers, blades and nacelles, which will be assembled at the project site, 900 kilometers north of Riyadh in the Al-Jouf region. The project will include 99 Vestas wind turbines, each with a hub height of 130 meters and rotor diameter of 150 meters.

Vestas, which has over 40 years of experience in the wind industry and 115 gigawatts of installed capacity worldwide, brings expertise to support the region in its transition to a decarbonized and decentralized energy system.

Saudi Arabia’s first utility-scale wind-power source, Dumat Al-Jandal is being developed by a consortium led by EDF Renewables of France in partnership with Abu Dhabi-based Masdar. (Supplied/Masdar)

“Saudi Arabia is ready to make that transition and to become a beacon of green energy and sustainability for the rest of its neighboring countries to follow suit,” said Muhamed Bou-Zeid, general manager of Vestas Middle East and North Africa.

He described the delivery of the first batch of wind turbines as a major milestone in Dumat Al-Jandal’s development as well as in Saudi Arabia’s National Renewable Energy Program.

“The ongoing progress at the wind farm site has largely been made possible by the Kingdom and its governmental authorities, which have graciously and wholeheartedly supported the consortium under the auspices of the National Renewable Energy Program,” he told Arab News.

The Renewable Energy Project Development Office of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy awarded the project to the EDF Renewables-Masdar consortium in January 2019 after a competitive tender.

INNUMBERS

Saudi Wind Farms

* 400MW Capacity of Dumal Al-Jandal plan.

* $500m Estimated investment.

* 2019 Start of project construction.

* 16GW KSA’s wind-energy target for 2030.

Its tariff of $21.3 per megawatt-hour (MWh), the lowest bid submitted, was reduced to $19.9/MWh at financial close, making Dumat Al-Jandal the most cost-efficient wind-energy project in the world.

“Not only will Dumat Al-Jandal provide power to support the Kingdom’s economic growth plans, but it will deliver valuable employment, training and economic opportunities to Saudis, especially in Al-Jouf,” Al-Ali said. “The project will advance Saudization goals of employing Saudi nationals and leave a positive impact on Al-Jouf.”

Materials for the farm will be bought locally, creating employment and training opportunities for Saudis to develop expertise and technological knowledge. “In this way, the project will help accelerate the Kingdom’s transition to a knowledge-based economy,” he added.

According to the US-Saudi Arabian Business Council, the development of Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy sector could create up to 750,000 jobs over the next decade, as the Kingdom pushes to generate 7 percent of its total electricity output from renewables by 2030.

It will also benefit from a 20-year power purchase agreement with the Saudi Power Procurement Company, a subsidiary of the Saudi Electricity Company, the Kingdom’s power generation and distribution company.

Renewable energy projects, including wind and solar, are planned across more than 35 parks in Saudi Arabia by 2030. (AFP via Getty Images/File Photo)

“Dumat Al-Jandal is committed to achieving a lasting positive community impact through procuring skills and materials in Saudi Arabia, supporting local jobs and businesses, and accelerating knowledge transfer,” said Mohamed Jameel Al-Ramahi, chief executive officer of Masdar.

Saudi Arabia’s renewable energy program aims to contribute to a sustainable future, preserve non-renewable fossil fuel resources and safeguard the Kingdom’s international energy leadership, according to the King Abdullah City for Atomic and Renewable Energy. That way, the program aims to ensure greater long-term global energy market stability.

Renewable energy projects, including wind and solar, are planned across more than 35 parks in Saudi Arabia by 2030. “The Kingdom is blessed with an abundance of energy sources such as wind, sun and fossil fuels,” Al-Ali said.

“Such a diversified supply of energy can be used strategically to generate significant returns. For example, if solar and wind energy technologies can be used to generate electricity, the Kingdom can benefit by using fossil fuels in other applications that enhance economic performance.”

The project is aligned “perfectly” with the Kingdom’s Vision 2030, as it would significantly increase the contribution of renewable energy within the country’s overall energy mix and foster diversification of energy resources, Al-Ali said.

The Renewable Energy Project Development Office of Saudi Arabia’s Ministry of Energy awarded the project to the EDF Renewables-Masdar consortium in January 2019 after a competitive tender. (Supplied/Masdar)

Osama bin Abdulwahab Khawandanah, chief executive officer of the Saudi Power Procurement Company, responsible for purchasing the entire output, said Dumat Al-Jandal was its first wind-energy project that would produce electricity at scale.

“As a key project under the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative, it is playing a crucial role in diversifying Saudi Arabia’s power mix sustainably,” he said. “The wind farm reflects our strong partnership with the private sector and the commercial viability of wind energy. This enables us to establish a competitive renewable energy sector in the Kingdom while reducing our carbon emissions in line with Vision 2030.”

Masdar continues to advance strategic projects to support the country’s renewable energy sector. At the beginning of 2019, the organization had set a target of doubling its renewable capacity — then at 4 gigawatts — within five years. With key projects such as Dumat-Al Jandal, it now expects to exceed that target before the end of 2020 ­— that is, within two years.

“There is no doubt that the Saudi market is one of the most important, not only in the region but globally,” Al-Ali told Arab News. “The Saudi market is highly attractive to clean energy developers because it is characterized by sufficient flexibility and attractive policies, which let developers submit competitive tenders and bids.”

Masdar has submitted proposals for other solar and wind-energy projects across Saudi Arabia, he said. “This reflects our commitment to the Saudi market and our confidence in the Kingdom’s ability to become a hub for large-scale renewable energy projects that are commercially viable.”

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Saudi-backed electric car breaks 500-mile barrier

Time: 13 August, 2020

Customer deliveries of the Lucid Air, which will be produced at Lucid’s new factory in Casa Grande, Arizona, will begin in early 2021. (Supplied)
  • Public Investment Fund backing bears fruit as Lucid Air all-electric sedan covers 517 miles on a single charge

LONDON: A Saudi-backed electric vehicle has broken through the 500-mile range barrier from a single charge as global manufacturers race to extend battery life.

Lucid Motors, in which Saudi Arabia’s Public Investment Fund (PIF) is a major investor, on Wednesday announced independent range verification of 517 miles on a single charge for its forthcoming Lucid Air all-electric sedan.

The car maker claims that the results confirm that the Lucid Air is the longest-range electric vehicle to date.

So-called “range anxiety,” where drivers fear being stranded without power in their cars, is a high priority for electric vehicle manufacturers in convincing people to make the switch from traditional gasoline-fueled vehicles.

“Range and efficiency are widely recognized as the most relevant proof points by which EV technical prowess is measured,” said Lucid Motors CEO Peter Rawlinson.

“A few years ago we revealed our alpha prototypes of the Lucid Air and promised over 400 miles range; a reflection of our technology at that time. In the intervening period we have achieved a series of technological breakthroughs, culminating in an unsurpassed degree of energy efficiency.”

The PIF agreed a $1 billion investment deal with Lucid Motors two years ago to develop the car at a factory in Arizona. The plant initially will have an annual capacity of 34,000 vehicles, building toward 360,000 about seven years later.

The production version of the Lucid Air will debut in an online event on Sept. 9, 2020.

In addition to the vehicle’s final interior and exterior designs, new details about production specifications, available configurations, and pricing information will also be shared. Customer deliveries will begin in early 2021.

Range is one of the biggest factors for consumers mulling the purchase of an electric vehicle, which is why manufacturers such as Elon Musk’s Tesla are investing heavily in battery technology.

China’s CATL which supplies Tesla, said on Wednesday that it was also working on a new technology allowing battery cells to be integrated into a vehicle’s chassis which would allow range to be extended to more than 500 miles.

Sales of electric cars topped 2.1 million globally in 2019, to boost the total stock to 7.2 million electric cars, according to the Paris-based International Energy Agency.

Consultancy Deloitte expects electric vehicle sales to rise from 4 million in 2020 to 21 million in 2030.

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Saudi body to help UN devise policies for sustainable living

Time: 13 August, 2020

SGBF represents Saudi Arabia and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development for a better future. (Reuters/File)
  • Saudi Green Building Forum granted accreditation as an observer to UNEP governing body

RIYADH: A professional association from Saudi Arabia will play a key policymaking role at a UN governing body addressing the importance of environmental needs.
Following careful assessment and consideration of the commitments and engagements of the Saudi Green Building Forum (SGBF), the nonprofit organization has been granted accreditation as an observer at the governing body of the UN Environment Program (UNEP). SGBF will play a role as an observer at all public meetings and sessions of the UNEP and its subsidiary organs.
Speaking to Arab News, Faisal Al-Fadl, founder of the nonprofit organization, said that the forum’s mission has been developing for the past 10 years and this accreditation was considered an important step in strengthening the role of Saudi civil society institutions, locally and internationally. This was in line with Vision 2030, which has not only played an integral role in the NGO’s mission but also paved the way for the Kingdom’s people to go the extra mile in building an advanced and resilient society.
SGBF was initiated in 2010 and established in 2014. In 2017, it became the first professional body from Saudi Arabia in consultative status with the UN.
“The Saudi Forum was an advocacy group with an honest voice to bridge the gap; through UNEP we now have the tools to become the policymakers,” Al-Fadl said. It is a challenge that the group founder says will be met by providing communities with the proper tools to implement commitments.
As the observing body on the environmental framework at the UNEP, SGBF’s role will include promoting its concepts and goals to be reflected within the community of change. For change to happen, people of a community at a grassroots level who have committed to the preservation of moral codes of conduct are key to changing mentality and behavior to guarantee a future for the next generations, Al-Fadl said.
“As an open platform, our role is being the honest voice of bridging the gap. Economic and social progress accompanied by environmental degradation and pandemics are endangering the very systems on which our future development and our survival depends,” he said.
SGBF represents the Kingdom and its call to communities, stakeholders, and policymakers to build on the principles of volunteering, advocacy and sustainable development.
For the NGO, their next step is increasing the engagement of civil society, finding solutions to the problem of volunteer integration in societies, and to prioritize and address social challenges for women, youth and the elderly, calling on member states to increase their role in building and developing practices that minimize the negative impact on the planet.
Al-Fadl added that protecting the planet and building resilience was not easy. Without bolstering local action, including volunteers to accelerate the implementation, it would be a long time until goals were met and result seen, he said.
“UN member countries have the responsibility in confronting the human crisis of inestimable proportions, which impose its heaviest tolls on the supply chain for those marginalized and
most vulnerable in cities and communities around the world,” Al-Fadl said.

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Riyadh roads turn green as world’s largest urban greening project branches out

03/08/20

Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides. (Photo/Supplied)
  • Capital gets a facelift as Vision 2030 program works to plant 7.5 million trees
  • Most of the tree species used in the project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care

RIYADH: The Green Riyadh project, one of the world’s largest urban greening initiatives, is rapidly bearing fruit as it transforms main roads in the capital.

Major thoroughfares, including King Khalid, Makkah and King Salman roads, are getting a facelift as part of the Vision 2030 goal of improving quality of life in the city.
Dr. Fahad Al-Mana, a professor of Ornamental Plants, Gardens and Green Areas at King Saud University, told Arab News that native tree species being used for the project include Ziziphus spina-christi, Acacia gerrardii and Prosopis cineraria, commonly known as the ghaf tree.
According to Al-Mana, the trees can survive in harsh desert conditions and will grow without intensive agricultural care.
“Most of the tree species used in the planting of the Green Riyadh project are from a well-developed local environment with low agricultural service and care,” he said.
Environmental conditions in Riyadh were taken into account during the tree selection process. The species can grow to a large size in only three years.
“In some locations, they have moved large 3-year-old local trees that were taken care of in plant nurseries to new locations where they are growing successfully,” Al-Mana said.
Green Riyadh will increase the amount of greenery in the city and augment the green cover in the Saudi capital with the planting of 7.5 million trees around the city’s main features and facilities.
The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

FASTFACTS

• The project will reduce the average ambient temperature by 2 degrees Celsius and improve air quality, encouraging people to follow a healthier lifestyle by walking or cycling.

• The project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.

• Green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030

“The aim of planting trees in the streets is to provide shade and moderate the temperature, especially in summer, which contributes to the purification of air and reduces environmental pollution by protecting the city from sand storms, winds and dust. In addition, it gives an aesthetic view and the element of nature enters the city and nearby structures,” said Al-Mana.
He added that trees, especially those planted in central street islands, must have long trunks and high branches to avoid hindering the movement of pedestrians and cars. The trunk must measure at least 3 to 4 meters and the size of the trees planted must be proportional to the width of the island.
Al-Mana said green space in the city will increase from 5 percent to 9 percent by 2030.
According to the Green Riyadh website, the project will maximize the use of recycled water in irrigation works by increasing usage from 90,000 cubic meters per
day to more than 1 million cubic meters per day through the construction of a new recycled water network.
Al-Mana said the Green Riyadh project will also reduce carbon dioxide and impurity levels in the city.
“Based on experience, roads and streets without trees contain eight to 10 times the amount of dust compared with streets lined with trees on both sides,” he said.

This article was first published in Arab News

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Saudi school smashes world record for longest chain of bottle caps

Time: 30 June, 2020

An environment-conscious Saudi school in Jeddah has topped the world record for the longest chain of bottle caps. (Supplied/BISJ/Guinness World Records)
  • Staff and children at the British International School of Jeddah (BISJ) threaded together 323,103 caps

JEDDAH: An environment-conscious Saudi school has topped the world record for the longest chain of bottle caps.

Staff and children at the British International School of Jeddah (BISJ) threaded together 323,103 caps to break the previous Guinness World Records title of 260,866 gained in the Netherlands.

The official attempt followed a plastic pollution awareness campaign, in which the school managed to collect a massive amount of bottle caps with the aim of taking them to a recycling firm and donating the funds locally to support children with disabilities by buying items such as wheelchairs and leg braces.

Sonja Sutcliffe, deputy head of the BISJ, said: “We have tried to break the Guinness World Records title for over a year with an aim to raising community awareness of the problem of plastic pollution, especially in oceans.

“We started by collecting as many bottle caps as we could, even cleaning up the local areas a little on the way.

“The message was to visually represent how many plastic bottles we use and see how the tops could be converted into specialized equipment for less-fortunate children. This is an amazing achievement of teamwork, vision, and resilience,” she added.

The school approached the challenge in a methodical and scientific way, working out the best ways to put holes in the caps and measure out fishing line to string them together.

Organizers used standard-size bottle caps, fishing line to make the lines of caps and large needles to thread the caps onto the line, as well as specific recording sheets for counting and measuring.

The final length of the chain was measured at 2,738.5 meters.

This article was first published in Arab News

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First phase of ‘Riyadh Green Program’ launched

24/02/20

The Riyadh Green Program includes the establishment of 48 major parks in the capital. (SPA)

  • The Riyadh Green Program includes the establishment of 48 major parks in the capital

RIYADH: Riyadh city has launched afforestation projects under the “Riyadh Green Program” to improve the quality of life in the capital.
It is one of the four major projects for the city announced by King Salman last year at the initiative of Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman.
The first phase includes planting of about 31,000 trees along 144 km of main roads, including King Salman Road, King Khalid Road, King Fahd Road, Airport Road, Makkah Al-Mukarramah Road, North Ring Road, and Eastern Ring Road.
Also, 100,000 shrubs will be planted, bringing the total green areas on these roads around 1.4 million sq. meters.
The Riyadh Green Program includes the establishment of 48 major parks in the capital and 3,250 parks within residential neighborhoods.

This article was first published in Arab News

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