Better city design needs to be part of the climate solution

Saudi Arabia’s governor of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City explains why ambitious urban planning is key to delivering environmental objectives

Wednesday 03 November 2021 09:40
<p>Kingdom Tower, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia</p>

Kingdom Tower, Riyadh, Saudi Arabia

Cities must lead the way in helping countries to address climate challenges, according to Fahd bin Abdulmohsen Al-Rasheed, president of the Royal Commission for Riyadh City.

The comments were made during a keynote speech on the role of cities in building sustainable societies at the inaugural Saudi Green Initiative (SGI) Forum in Riyadh on 23 October.

“Cities are hubs of innovation, and COVID-19 has shown us the weaknesses and opportunities that cities can bring through that innovation,” said Maimunah Mohd Sharif, the under-secretary-general and executive director of the UN Human Settlements Programme.

Urban hubs are major contributors to the negative effects of climate change.

According to UN Habitat, cities consume 78 per cent of the world’s energy and produce more than 60 per cent of greenhouse gas emissions. Yet they account for less than 2 per cent of the Earth’s surface.

Urban areas, meanwhile, generally create twice as much waste as rural areas.

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Within Saudi Arabia, 84 per cent of the total population live in cities, significantly more than comparable countries in other parts of the world.

The country is addressing these climate challenges through its SGI targets.

The Saudi capital has already committed to planting 7.5 million trees by 2030, as part of its Green Riyadh initiative.

This will help the country achieve the national target to plant 10 billion trees.

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