Home » COP28 to offer new impetus for implementing climate change commitments: WB’s VP for MENA tells WAM

COP28 to offer new impetus for implementing climate change commitments: WB’s VP for MENA tells WAM

by Dubaiforum

DUBAI, 15th February, 2023 (WAM) — Ferid Belhaj, World Bank Vice President for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA), has expressed the World Bank’s support for the UAE in hosting the 28th session of the Conference of the Parties (COP 28) from 30th November to 12th December 2023.

In a statement to the Emirates News Agency (WAM) on the sidelines of his participation at the World Government Summit, Belhaj said that the COP28 will provide a new impetus for the global system to implement commitments to mitigate climate change issues.

He noted that climate change is one of the region’s main challenges, and the conference aims to reinforce global demands to meet the financing requirements necessary to confront climate change issues in the region, such as desertification, coastal erosion, and air pollution.

“We will see how to address these challenges during the COP28,” the World Bank Vice President added.

Belhaj stated that “COP26” witnessed a set of promises regarding pumping US$100 million annually, which Egypt called for its implementation during the “Implementation Summit” at COP27, while the COP28 will affirm these commitments and maintain hopes.

He highlighted the proactive role of the UAE in addressing climate change issues, as the country hosts the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The UAE has also launched a set of policies and initiatives to tackle climate change issues, the official pointed out.

Regarding growth levels in the Gulf region, Belhaj explained that the growth rate in the region was strong last year but is expected to decrease during the current and next years, which highlights the importance of openness, economic diversification and orientation towards new areas.

He reiterated that the UAE’s economic openness approach has helped it to maintain economic growth momentum thanks to economic diversification.

Asked about the most critical challenges facing the region, he said that in addition to climate change, the issue of debt is one of the most pressing challenges facing the region, as some countries have suffered from accumulated debt.

Belhaj also pointed out that the employment of young people is one of the region’s main challenges. “According to our studies, the number of young jobseekers in the region will reach 300 million,” he said, explaining the need to find a strong strategy based on several components, including education as a key pillar.

“This is something that the UAE has prioritised by focusing on education to develop it and improve its methods,” he continued.

Belhaj indicated the importance of adopting policies that support gender balance in the region, praising the UAE’s experience and efforts in establishing The UAE Gender Balance Council. Emirati women play an active role in the economy, education and society, the Wold Bank executive pointed out.

Regarding the World Bank’s role in facing the challenges in cooperation with the regional countries, he explained that the bank’s brief is advisory. There is constant communication with the UAE to exchange experiences, expertise and best practices, and discuss means to finding solutions to various issues facing the Middle East and North Africa region, Belhaj added.

In response to a question about the role of the World Bank in supporting countries facing food crises, Belhaj explained that the bank is involved in financing and importing foods such as wheat to some countries due to the current geopolitical conditions leading to supply-chain disruption.

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