Statement for Dr. Khalida Bouzar, Regional director in high level roundtable: towards accelerated climate action in the Arab States region: The Green Arab States Facility for Transition

September 21, 2022

Excellencies, ladies and gentlemen,

I join Achim in welcoming you to the General Assembly and to this much-needed conversation on finalizing the Green Arab States Facility for Transitions, or GAFT.

Globally, we are far from meeting our climate targets. The situation is worse in the Arab States, where temperatures have increased over 1.5C in the last century. That’s double the global average.

The region is the most water-scarce region in the world, as Achim stated, but also the most food-import dependent region.

Only 1.5% of electricity in the region is renewable. Add to that, the highest youth unemployment rate in the world.

Sustainable and scalable green transitions will help address these challenges, and they will also help to create new opportunities – and smarter investments. Every dollar of investment in renewables creates three times more jobs than in the fossil fuel industry.

We will promote transitions that are not only green, but just and inclusive. The benefits of GAFT are far-reaching – not just for the environment, but also for the economy and for society, fostering social cohesion by creating job opportunities for youth.

Importantly, GAFT will address the double crisis of conflict and climate change, and will develop transition pathways in crisis and post-conflict settings. Green solutions will be integrated into recovery efforts across the region. Climate action will be a source of regional stability.

Our vision is to make the Arab States region a more competitive, diversified producer of green energy that can close energy gaps across the region and beyond, like Europe. It will become a global renewable energy hub.

We have already started this work. In Sudan, UNDP has implemented a Climate Risk Finance initiative. This has helped design new climate insurance policies and brought to market the country’s first climate insurance products.

In Lebanon, which only has 4 hours of electricity per day, we are training a new generation of women experts on solar energy systems, enabling them to access livelihood opportunities and break stereotypes at the same time.

Under GAFT, we will scale up these efforts.

We have already received a request from Algeria’s Ministry of Energy Transition to develop a new energy model and draft a new regulatory framework for energy transition and we look forward to working together on this important initiative.

But GAFT is not just about energy transitions. We will create holistic solutions under three pillars: 1. Climate-Resilient Development; 2. Green Energy Transitions; 3. Nature-Based Solutions.

One specific focus area, building on our Climate Promise as Achim has highlighted, is to make the NDCs a reality on the ground. Through GAFT, in collaboration with national authorities, we will transform the NDC targets into ‘bankable’ projects that can potentially be financed by IFIs and other funds, through blended financing. I’m glad to see many of you here in the room today.

We are already working with IFIs in Yemen, Iraq, and Lebanon, delivering high quality programming.

On all these priorities, we are not starting from scratch. We are building on $300 million worth of ongoing programming that already addresses some of the existing challenges.

Excellencies, I was inspired yesterday by the words of the King of Jordan who commented on the climate crisis: ‘No country can heal our injured earth alone.’ GAFT will work as a truly regional facility. We will promote the transfer of technologies across the region. We will also create regional solutions, in collaboration with our partners.

We have laid out our ambitions, but we know that ambitions are not enough. We require adequate financing to deliver these ideas, and have started the conversation with potential donors on raising funds. We also count on your leadership and guidance along the way.

Today’s meeting opens the consultations for GAFT. It’s the beginning of our journey, and we will continue in COP27.

On behalf of the Regional Bureau for Arab States, thank you again for committing your valuable time to this event and I hope you have a fulfilling discussion and a healthy, safe stay in New York.