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Private sector key to tackling climate change, says tourism chief

Climate change Red Sea Global
Saudi Arabia's Red Sea sustainable tourism development exemplifies how the private sector is addressing climate change

The world cannot expect governments to combat climate change alone and the private sector must step up and safeguard the future of the planet, according to John Pagano, CEO of Saudi’s Red Sea Global.

Countries across the world are taking various measures to address climate change. In the Middle East, the UAE and Oman have made formal pledges to be carbon neutral by 2050. Bahrain and Saudi Arabia have set their net zero targets for 2060; Jordan by 2040.

However, in an exclusive column for AGBI, Pagano, who heads up one of the most ambitious and environmentally responsible tourism developments in the world, believed the onus should not solely fall upon governments, but also the private sector.

He said: “We can’t afford to wait for our political leaders, no matter how admirable their intentions, to strike a decisive blow for humanity in our battle against climate change. The stakes are too high. Instead, private businesses and individuals hold the key to this lock on our future.”

Spread across 28,000 sq km and including an archipelago of more than 90 islands, The Red Sea Project will be powered by 100 percent renewable energy and is committed to carbon neutrality. It is also forecast to contribute $5.8 billion a year to Saudi Arabia’s GDP by 2030 and will create an estimated 70,000 jobs.

Due to be completed by 2030, the development will host 50 resorts providing up to 8,000 hotel rooms and will feature more than 1,000 residential properties, all of which will be spread across 22 islands and six inland sites. There will also be an international airport, marinas, golf courses and entertainment and leisure facilities.

According to the World Bank’s list of the largest per-capita emitters of carbon dioxide, Qatar is at the top. There are five more Middle Eastern states among the top 10: Kuwait, Bahrain, the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Oman.

The Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region needs an estimated $186 billion to help countries achieve their goals under the Paris Agreement, Vivek Pathak, director and global head for climate business at International Finance Corporation, said earlier this year ahead of Cop27 in Egypt.

Between 2020 and 2030, a green recovery in the region could generate $200 billion in investment opportunities, create 4.2 million jobs and prevent 111 million tons of greenhouse gas emissions, he added.

At the Cop27 climate summit in Sharm El Sheikh it was agreed to create a dedicated loss and damage fund to help poor countries being battered by climate disasters.

Read John Pagano’s column