The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture, along with its sister entities, is working on establishing sustainable development principles in all its departments. Its renewed interest to develop the sustainable development is considered one of its key goals and basic initiatives which aim at capitalizing on renewable natural resources in a way that would not lead to the degradation, end or decrees the benefit of these natural resources so that the future generations will have access to them, maintaining a stable balance of these natural resources by using proper management, effective and safe methods.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture depends on two main principles: sustainable development and environmental conservation, as it aims to achieve sustainability of all its services and projects in its comprehensive sense, bearing in mind the implementation of the sustainable development concept. It also depends on its action plans to benefit from all the available natural resources without prejudice to the the rights of future generations over natural resources. It is also worth mentioning that the ministry's approach is in line with the Kingdom's successive development plans, that are also in accordance with the strategic vision that aims to achieve such goal which the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques- may Allah protect him- described during his speech at the opening of the one of the Shura Council (Consulting Council) meetings: (The Kingdom's approach to provide a decent life for the Saudi citizens is the "comprehensive development" on which we are working hard to achieve, hoping that we can provide them with housing, job opportunities, education, health care and other services and facilities as well. We will also combat poverty and bring attention to areas that have not developed yet, as set by the development plans).
Environment and Sustainable Development
The ministry has made huge strides in the field of environmental protection and its resources through adherence to the above-mentioned guidelines, especially after the environment protection policy was adopted in the Basic Law of Governance (Article 32) thereof which states, “The State shall work towards the preservation, protection and improvement of the environment.
Its objectives also include:
- Preserving all that surrounds man whether water, air, land and outer space as well as contents thereof: nonliving objects, plants, animals, different forms of energy, systems, natural processes and human activity.
-In the field of wildlife conservation, the environmental degradation, depletion of natural resources and extinction of some wildlife demanded the appropriate intervention to address these issues and rehabilitate the environment. Also, several measures have been taken to protect the biological diversity in the Kingdom, maintain wildlife habitats, and develop such areas considering population and natural conditions. The Ministry manages the protected areas network as a part of an ambitious system of protected areas in the Kingdom. This network aims to protect 103 lands and maritime areas which cover around 10 percent of the Kingdom’s size. These preserves are designed to develop renewal natural resources for the benefit of mankind. The total number of officially protected areas is 15, covering 4 percent of the Kingdom’s size, which is considered the natural habitat and genetic banks for biodiversity in water and on land of the Kingdom.
-The ministry is working on implementing many national regulations and strategies as well as international agreements ratified by the Kingdom in the field of wildlife conservation, such as:
• General Environmental Law
• Wildlife Protected Areas Regulation
• Wildlife Animal and Bird Hunting Regulation
• Regulation on Trafficking of Endangered Wildlife Species and their Products
• United Nations Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD)
• The Convention on Migratory Species
• The Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora
• Saudi Wildlife Fund
The ministry has established the "KSA Award for Environmental Management", which is one of the most important and prestigious awards for the environment in the Arab world. The award was launched under the patronage of the Custodian of the Two Holy Mosques in 2004; which given by the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment in cooperation with the Arab Administrative Development Organization. The award aims to reinforce the broad concept of environmental management in the Arab world; promote Arab states to consider sustainable development; and recognize and share the best international practices in the field of environmental management. The award plays a significant role in promoting environmental action and disseminating environmental information and knowledge to secure the future of the Arab region and the world.
- Achieving Sound management of chemicals and throughout their life- cycle in accordance with international standard frameworks and reduce its release into air, water and soil to protect human health and the environment.
-Controlling the spread of transboundary animal diseases and endemic animal diseases, preserving the wealth and natural resources to achieve the security of vital resources.
-Reducing waste production through prevention, reduction, recycling and reuse.
-Integrating the environmental conservation pillar into all developmental projects to be taken into consideration, while carrying out continuous environmental assessment of such projects.
-Introducing deterrent environmental laws to be committed to implement development, and to prevent breaches of these laws, reduce the degradation of natural habitats and loss of biodiversity, stop poaching and protect endangered species, and improve the management and development of pastures and forests.
-Establishing environmental institutions, with the aim of raising environmental awareness, developing education and training, and integrating of the concept of environmental education into the curriculum.
The successful implementation of environmentally sustainable development outcomes is an important move that requires high skills in the environmental management of developmental projects. The unlimited support of our government to the environmental bodies in the Kingdom has a clear effect on achieving this goal, recognizing the importance of the environment, environmental preservation and protection including preventing pollution.
Climate and sustainable development
In the field of climate, the attention given by the ministry to this field led to the following achievements:
-Developing meteorological observation systems for the safety of life, the protection of property, the reduction of its harmful effects, dealing with them as a legislative, social, economic and ethical obligation and requirement, and an integral part of development and proper planning.
- Strengthening the resilience to climate risks, and capacities of communities to cope with the risks posed by climate change, sudden weather conditions and natural disasters.
-Integrating climate change measures into policies, strategies and planning on the national scale.
-Improving awareness and harnessing human and institutional capacities to mitigate the effects of climate change, and the ability to launch early warning system before its negative impacts occur.
Water and Sustainable Development
The water sector is considered one of the most important determinants of sustainable development. Since the beginning of the development process, the ministry has shown considerable concern for water at all levels due to its economic, social and environmental effect on Saudi society, this can be seen from the following:
-The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture functions in accordance with integrated program to provide clean and safe drinking water for all.
-Implementing the principles of integrated water resources management at all levels, protecting and restoring water-related ecosystems, including aquifers.
- Achieving access to adequate sanitation and hygiene for all.
-Substantially increasing water-use efficiency across all sectors and ensure sustainable withdrawals and supply of freshwater to address water scarcity and substantially reduce the number of people suffering from water scarcity
-Improving water quality by reducing pollution, eliminating dumping and minimizing release of hazardous chemicals and materials, halving the proportion of untreated wastewater and substantially increasing recycling and safe reuse globally
-Implementing water and wastewater networks, water treatment and reuse through the directorates in all regions of the Kingdom. It will also develop a comprehensive national water plan that outlines water-related policies based on the water and scientific studies.
-The Deputy-Ministry for Water has launched Seqaya charity project for water with the aim of raising funds from private sector, charities, companies, banks and citizens. Based on the financial sustainability of the implementation of water projects to guarantee water for the inhabitants of villages, hamlets, and desert areas as well as needy areas in all regions of the Kingdom, which will be operated and maintained by the ministry to ensure sustainable management of these projects.
- The Deputy-Ministry for Water is working on raising awareness and rationalizing water consumption by the General Directorate of Water Resources and establishing water rationalization programs for the different purposes of water use (civil, agricultural and industrial) by launching national water rationalization campaigns about the importance of water conservation. The Ministry has introduced a national water conservation program consists of a permanent water rationalization public awareness exhibition, and a sales point for water consumption rationalization tools, and a mobile exhibition to participate in national, regional and international events.
The ministry, by carrying out these activities, has succeeded in reducing the amount of per capita consumption of water by distributing thousands of water consumption rationalization tools (water conservation tool bag and efficient toilet flushing system). Moreover, other future phases aimed at rationalizing water consumption for agricultural purposes (installation of water meters on private wells) and successive campaigns aimed at civil consumption to reach the global consumption rate will be launched. The ministry has also participated in water leakage treatment through potable water in public and private water networks.
The Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture is steadily progressing towards achieving all these objectives and strategic principles, following the Integrated Water Resources Management approach, develop and the participation of local communities in improving water and wastewater management.
Agriculture and Sustainable Development
The agriculture sector has undergone a radical restructure to put the sector on the path of sustainable development through successive development plans. This will be achieved by subjecting agricultural development to the determinants of water resources to ensure the security of vital resources of the Kingdom, and to meet the first strategic objective of achieving comprehensive and sustainable food security.
Decisions made by the ministry in this context are as follows:
-Rationalizing the production of water-intensive crops, and halting exporting them to preserve water resources.
- Encouraging the use of modern irrigation techniques to rationalize water consumption.
-Stopping the allotment of uncultivated lands until finalization and launch of the National Water Strategy.
-Achieving sustainable management and efficient use of natural resources by 2030.
- Halving per capita food waste for retail outlets and consumers and reducing food loss in the production and supply stages, including post-harvest losses.
- Developing and improving the efficiency of the agricultural products market, adopting measures to ensure the proper functioning of a basic commodities and their derivatives and easy access to them, and enhancing food reserves to minimize price volatility.
-The ministry is also implementing a program to support and encourage Saudi investment in agricultural activities in foreign countries to enhance national food security and its role in economic, social and environmental development.
- Encouraging the production of highly efficient crops, and maintaining the genetic diversity of seeds, cultivated plants and farmed and domesticated animals and their related wild species.
- Increasing support and access to agricultural extension that are provided for smallholder farmers and ensuring their effectiveness, supporting scientific research and development in agricultural fields and agricultural extension services to enhance productive capacity.
-Improving fish resources management and achieving sustainable management of fisheries and watershed.
The ministry continues to perform its tasks and systematic programs in implementing national initiatives to meet current challenges, bearing in mind the achievement of the strategic objectives of sustainable development and taking into consideration advanced performance measurement indicators, to develop sustainable systems for high-efficient crops, animals, and fish production, and to raise the added value of the targeted products to contribute to diversifying the production base of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia in accordance with the National Transformation Program 2020.