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Publisher: Maaal International Media Company
“Better to see something once, than to hear about it a thousand times” so goes the proverb.
I was fortunate enough to visit the Kubuqi Desert, in China’s Mongolian Province, in 2017, with a Chinese friend from the area.
My friend would often talk about Mongolian culture and how Mongolians love Wrestling, archery, and horse racing, and also about home designs with the smoke hole on the top of the tent, in China’s largest and most vast desert.
Thirty years ago, the Kubuqi Desert was one of the harshest places on Earth to live, due to scorching hot storms that pound the area, displacing massive amounts of sand on the surface.
The Chinese Government then took an interest in the region and spurred businesses and locals on to concentrate their efforts on the treasure hidden underneath and above the desert sand.
Inner Mongolia has been able to recover more than 6,000 square meters of the Kubuqi Desert, by implementing an integrated model of a sustainable circular economy.
Focusing on restoring the ecosystem and applying eco-management, the model manages livestock, agriculture, and natural resources.
It also develops ecotourism, supports the green industry, and enhances solar energy production.
This had a significant impact on the lives of over 150,000 people, lifting them out of poverty.
The Kubuqi model sets a great global example for controlling desertification, improving the ecosystem which is based on effective government and institutional policies that are supported by incentives.
The model also considers high risks and informed investment decisions in the environmental industry.
It forges close partnerships with individuals and businessmen in the province’s farmer and livestock herder markets.
The term “Desert” has been redefined in the Kubuqi Desert.
You will see cattle and sheep graze near solar panels, which provide energy to generators.
Today, the harsh desert has become an exporter of the best vegetables and organic fruits to the rest of China.
It is a miracle how the ardent land was transformed into fruitful gardens attracting visitors from all walks of life.
The lessons from the Kubuqi model are priceless.
Despite the fact that only 7% of China’s land is arable and more than 27% of its land is subject to erosion and degradation, this green development model is currently being implemented in other provinces such as Ganso, Hebi, Xinjiang and, Tibet.
China aspires to transfer it externally through the export of green technology along with the international project – the Belt and Road – and to build a $900 billion trade network and infrastructure spanning from the ancient Silk Road from Xi’an through Central Asia all the way to the Middle East and Africa.
The project targets a population of more than two billion people, 90 percent of whom live in developing countries.
As a result of major environmental changes, the sector has become a breeding ground for entrepreneurship and innovation, whether in the energy, agriculture, or recycling sectors.
State policies and government initiatives may create new markets into which entrepreneurs are encouraged to venture. These markets will act as a source of job creation and human resource development.
His Royal Highness the Crown Prince announced the Saudi Green and Middle East Green initiatives in April.
Saudi Arabia aims to grow 10 billion trees by 2040, increase efforts to protect its natural coasts, allocate 30 percent of the country’s area to environmentally protected land, and the announcement during the Saudi Green Initiative last October of a more than $186bn investment commitment to make the kingdom carbon neutral by 2060.
That will not only contribute to increasing environmental awareness, but will also bring entrepreneurs closer to the environment, track quality opportunities, and increase the added value of innovation and R&D in this promising dynamic sector in order to foster a sustainable national economy, in line with Saudi Arabia’s ambitious Vision 2030.
*PhD Scholar in Sustainable Entrepreneurship, Xi’an Jiaotong University
Head of Entrepreneurship Committee and Board Executive Member
Saudi Chinese Business Council