Safeguarding the planet is a key pillar of the Saudi G20 presidency, with targeted efforts under way to protect and advance human well-being, biodiversity and planetary health
Saudi Arabia assumed the G20 presidency with an ambitious agenda, one pillar of which is “Safeguarding the Planet” by fostering collective efforts to protect our common interests. The issues of the environment, water and agriculture have been central to the presidency’s agenda. In this regard, it put forward a critical set of priorities centred on advancing water and food security and nutrition, human health and well-being, biodiversity, planetary health, inclusive economic growth and sustainable development.
These priorities acquired heightened importance during the COVID-19 crisis. The pandemic has reminded us not only of our mutual vulnerability and interdependence, but also that together we can take bold actions to restore growth and recover stronger. For instance, the pandemic has exposed vulnerabilities in our domestic and international food supply chains, and has hurt farmers, workers, and small-, medium- and large-scale agri-food businesses. The pandemic is also projected to reduce investments in the water sector as limited resources are diverted elsewhere, as well as decrease the availability of water. Moreover, the United Nations has estimated that an additional 135 million people currently suffer from famine due to the pandemic. These considerable challenges are exacerbated by environmental conditions, including soil degradation and water scarcity.
G20 agriculture ministers have shown their commitment to working together to ensure the resilience of the entire sector and food supply system. This includes developing a statement to enhance implementation of responsible investment in agriculture, which could benefit smallholders and agricultural workers around the globe. In addition, the ministers are addressing food loss and waste and have supported innovative technologies and practices, including farmer-to-farmer skills sharing, technical assistance and the transfer of technology. The G20 agriculture ministers are especially committed to mounting an inclusive response that supports the most vulnerable, including the food insecure, women, youth and the elderly.
Water security for all
Water ministers and water representatives of G20 members have promoted sustainable and resilient global water systems through policies, investment, technology and the alignment of international efforts. Reducing water stress is closely linked to promoting food security, developing cleaner energy and combatting environmental degradation. The Water Best Practices Roadmap and the Water Coordination and Integration Roadmap compile countries’ best practices and experiences on several water-related issues and suggest activities and actions to be taken within the G20 to optimise their impacts.
G20 environment ministers are particularly focused on land and coral reef degradation. Land degradation and the destruction of natural habitats associated with it have significant impacts not only on biodiversity and food security, but also on climate resilience, social well-being and sustainable development. Under the Saudi presidency, the launch of the Global Initiative on Reducing Land Degradation and Enhancing Conservation of Terrestrial Habitats aims to restore degraded land, conserve land, halt habitat loss, fragmentation and land degradation, and to promote integrated, sustainable and resilient land management. Another initiative aims to protect and restore coral reefs. In this regard, the Saudi presidency has introduced the Global Coral Reef R&D Accelerator Platform to focus on accelerating international research and development of coral reefs.
The Saudi G20 presidency is committed to working with all counterparts to advance the commitments of G20 leaders to promote a transparent, robust, coordinated, large-scale and science-based global response in the spirit of solidarity.
We are pleased to have had the opportunity to work with our counterparts from G20 members and other stakeholders. We look forward to continuing that coordination and advancing further progress beyond our presidency.