ISLAMABAD: Saudi Arabia and Pakistan have signed a wide-ranging memorandum of understanding (MoU) to cooperate in nine important environmental areas to control pollution and protect nature, confirmed a senior government functionary on Wednesday.
Last year, Prime Minister Imran Khan addressed a letter to Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman in which he praised the kingdom’s massive tree-plantation project and offered his country’s full support to the initiative.
He was subsequently invited by the Saudi authorities to attend the Middle East Green Initiative Summit in October.
The two sides decided to assist each other with their environmental projects, making it possible for their top officials in the area to sign the recent MoU in Riyadh.
“This is an umbrella memorandum of understanding and a wide-ranging document which has been signed for the first time between Pakistan and Saudi Arabia to establish partnership in green programs,” Malik Amin Aslam, the Pakistani prime minister’s advisor on climate change, told Arab News from Riyadh over the phone.
He said that he signed the document with the Saudi environment minister Abdulrahman bin Abdulmohsen Al-Fadhli in the kingdom's capital.
Malik said the signing of the document was a success of green diplomacy between the two countries.
“This initiative will allow us to focus on nine different areas of cooperation which include both green areas such as nature protection, biodiversity, forestation and also brown areas which include pollution control and management of toxic waste,” he continued.
The prime minister’s aide informed that experts from both sides would hold consultations and share relevant information in the first stage of mutual cooperation.
“The Saudi minister wanted the Pakistani experts who worked on the billion-tree tsunami project to immediately visit the kingdom and finalize their plantation plan,” he said.
He added that plants grown in Pakistan would be shifted to Saudi Arabia in the next phase of cooperation.
Aslam informed that Saudis were very keen to use their waste water for plantation in the urban areas.
“We have also discussed Miyawaki forest technique with them which we have successfully implemented in Pakistan and which uses very little water and suits the Saudi environment,” he added.
He said Pakistan would also export its workforce of people who undertook forestation initiatives in their own country to the kingdom in the coming months.
“This is a very wide-ranging MOU which allows deeper cooperation in areas of nature protection and plantation of national parks,” he continued. “Pakistan has already expanded its national parks by 50 percent from 30 to 45 percent in the last one year.”
The advisor hoped this cooperation would open a new chapter in the Saudi-Pak bilateral relationship.
“Pakistan is going to start a carbon offset program very soon,” he informed. “We are in the final stages of the development of a policy in this area in which the Saudis are likely to take deep interest.”
Aslam said the government had worked with the World Bank to get an estimation of blue carbon in the country, including mangroves, tidal marshes and sea grass.
“We will be moving ahead in this area by floating a blue bond,” he added. “This can also become a very important area for collaboration between the two countries.”