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Saudi Arabia to host UN conference on desertification

Riyadh, Feb 1 (Prensa Latina) Saudi Arabia and the United Nations Convention to address Desertification (UNCCD) agreed to hold the 16th session of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention (COP16) in Riyadh from December 2nd to the 13th.

COP16 will be the largest event ever held by the 197 Parties to the UNCCD, the first to be hosted in the Middle East region, and the largest multilateral conference ever hosted by Saudi Arabia.

This year also marks the 30th anniversary of the UNCCD, one of the three main environmental treaties known as the Rio Conventions, along with the climate change and biodiversity conventions.

At the signing ceremony held in Riyadh, Abdulrahman Abdulmohsen Al-Fadley, Saudi Minister of Environment, Water and Agriculture and President of COP16, said that the holding of this summit reflects the country’s commitment to environmental protection at a national, regional and international level. Saudi Arabia launched several innovative environmental projects, such as the Saudi Green Initiative and the Middle East Green Initiative, he added.

UNCCD Executive Secretary Ibrahim Thiaw said that “We are losing fertile land at an alarming rate, endangering global stability, prosperity and sustainability.” He added that COP16 in Riyadh should mark a turning point in the way that we treat our most precious resource, the land, and collectively address global drought emergency.

COP16 will focus on mobilizing governments, businesses and communities around the world to accelerate land restoration and drought resilience measures as a cornerstone of food, water and energy security.

The event will last two weeks and will feature a high-level segment as well as associated events.