The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia has enjoyed, over the past few decades, a sustained period of rapid economic growth, which has resulted in high income per capita, a strongly positive balance of trade and no public debt. This process, largely fuelled by oil revenues, has been accompanied by high rates of population growth and increasing pressure on the country’s natural resources.
The potentially adverse environmental impact of unregulated economic growth was clearly recognized in the Development Plans for the Kingdom, which emphasizes the crucial importance of achieving sustainable development through the conservation and prudent management of its natural resources. The 8th and 9th Development Plans; lay stress on protecting the environment and develop suitable systems consistent with sustainable development.
One of the major targets of the basic environmental strategy of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is the conservation of biodiversity and the protection of wildlife in order to maintain ecological equilibrium, particularly with respect to rare, vulnerable and endangered animal and plant species. This key aspect of the national environmental policy has been further reinforced through the signing by Saudi Arabia of the international Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD). In addition and despite the fact that the Saudi economy depends largely on oil, the Kingdom has spared no efforts to address global environmental issues such as climate change. The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia ratified the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC) in 1994.
Based on this, UNDP in partnership with the National Commission for Wildlife and Development (NCWCD) established a program aimed at the management and operation of protected areas. A training Center was established within NCWCD and a number of staff and Rangers have been professionally trained to manage and operate properly the protected areas in the Kingdom. The Center also provided awareness to school teachers and homemakers.
UNDP in partnership with the Presidency of Metrology and Environment produced the first National Report on Climate Change, and conducted the Self assessment exercise. Currently, UNDP is assisting the Kingdom to undertake the Second National Greenhouse Gas Inventory and to prepare and report the Second National Communication to the Conference of Parties in accordance with guidance of the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC).
In the energy sector, UNDP works with King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST) to meet the rapidly growing power and energy demand through efficient and rational consumption patterns.
The management of the water sector is another area where UNDP provides a direct support to the development of strategic water sector management policies through extensive in-country consultations of the MOWE-WB Cooperative Program. The overall objective are, the development Retrospective groundwater abstraction estimate and mapping across the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.
Under the general practice area "Energy & Environment", UNDP Saudi Arabia streamlines all its programmes and projects into more specific "Service Lines" which steer UNDP's work.