The announcements were made at the World Climate Action Summit on Health, Nature, Water and Energy at COP28. Image used for illustrative purpose only. Image Credit: Pexels

Dubai: The UAE’s $250 million pledge on its 52nd Union Day on Saturday, in two separate announcements made at COP28, will have a significant impact on addressing water security and nature preservation.

At the World Climate Action Summit on Health, Nature, Water and Energy, the UAE announced a $100m grant finance as part of a $1 billion global fund committed under a new Nature Finance Hub launched at the summit.

During the segment on water, the UAE pledged $150 million in new funding for water security solutions in fragile and vulnerable communities. The COP Presidency had elevated water as one of the key priority areas for the conference. The COP28 Water Agenda has three thematic priority areas which are freshwater ecosystems, urban water resilience, and water-resilient food systems.

Most water-scarce region

While announcing the fund, Ahmed bin Ali Al Sayegh, UAE Minister of State, recalled how his generation grew up without running water and how his father’s generation imported water from across the region to survive.

Al Sayegh making the announcement on Saturday at COP28 Image Credit: Screengrab/YouTube

“We must acknowledge that COP28 takes place in one of the world’s most water-scarce regions. The UAE and its neighbours in the MENA region ranked among the most water-stressed nations on Earth and we are not alone in facing the damaging effects of droughts, heat waves, and other hazards as water scarcity spreads to other parts of the world,” he said.

According to recent estimates, water scarcity could result in a scenario whereby by 2025, over 1.8 billion people could find themselves living in countries or regions with absolute water scarcity, meaning a lack of supply after all feasible options to enhance supply and manage demand have been implemented.

“And even without absolute water scarcity an estimated two-thirds of the global population are living under water stress conditions. The links between water and climate change must be front and centre of all our efforts.”

Al Sayegh added that the new fund will support efforts addressing multiple aspects of this multifaceted challenge, providing needed financing to scale existing solutions and stimulate innovation to address the global water crisis.

Nature Finance Hub

At a session titled ‘Protecting Nature for Climate, Lives and Livelihoods,’ COP28 launched a new initiative called the Nature Finance Hub led by the Asian Development Bank (ADB). Through this hub, ADB will launch a catalytic commitment of $1 billion towards nature-based solutions.

ADB has partnered with Saudi Arabia, France, the OPEC Fund and the Global Climate Fund. The partners will mobilise and leverage private capital for nature with a focus on the Asia Pacific region.

“I’m incredibly pleased and also honoured to say that my country [UAE] on its National Day [Union Day] will also be happy to partner and join by announcing a grant finance of $100 million with the first tranche being supported towards Ghana and forest conservation,” said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, UN Climate Change High-Level Champion for COP28, who is also the president of the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak during the session at COP28 on December 2 Image Credit: Screengrab/YouTube

The initial $30 million investment will be used for the ‘Resilient Ghana’ plan of the Ghanaian government. The plan was launched by Ghanaian President Nana Akufo-Addo with an additional $80 million of support from Canada, Singapore, the US and other private sector-aligned initiatives such as the LEAF Coalition, supplementing the UAE’s $30 million.

It was announced that the Nature Finance Hub also aims to mobilise a further $2 billion in additional private finance capital by 2030 into nature-focused climate projects, it was announced.

Nature partnership with Brazil

The UAE, the COP28 Presidency, also announced a nature-focused partnership with Brazil, the COP30 Presidency. “Our cooperation will deepen over the next two years as we commence a partnership, focusing on enhancing the role of nature in climate action,” said Al Mubarak.

Brazil’s President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva and COP28 President Dr Sultan Al Jaber, who represented the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, joined hands literally to celebrate the announcement about the ‘COP28 to COP30 partnership’ and take a commemorative photo.

Dr Al Jaber (right) and Brazilian President Luiz Inácio Lula da Silva Image Credit: X/@COP28_UAE

A group of indigenous people shared the stage to highlight how their lives are impacted by man made reasons such as deforestation affecting climate change.

Other major pledges made to meet climate and biodiversity goals included the following:

· Siaosi 'Ofakivahafolau Sovaleni, the Prime Minister of Tonga, announced $100million of finance for Pacific Small Island Developing States (P-SIDS) from the Bezos Earth Fund for the ‘Unlocking Blue Pacific Prosperity Plan’ to protect 30 per cent of the countries’ waters and exclusive economic zones by 2030 - representing an area larger than the surface of the moon.

· A group of philanthropies, including Bloomberg Philanthropies, Builders Vision and Oceankind, announced $250 million of new finance under the Ocean Resilience Climate Alliance (ORCA), targeting protection for vulnerable marine areas, ocean-based mitigation efforts, and research on climate impacts.

· President Emmanuel Macron of France confirmed funding for three forest finance packages including $100 million for Papua New Guinea, $60million for the Democratic Republic of Congo and $50 million for the Republic of Congo to drive private finance of conservation and local development through verifiable carbon credit transactions.

· Indonesian President Joko Widodo and Norwegian Prime Minister Jonas Gahr Støre highlighted a $100 million partnership in support of Indonesia’s pioneering FOLU Net Sink 2030 plan.