Global focus: Qatar

7th July 2014

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  • Natural resources ,
  • Construction


James Dobing

Harry Sealy describes how Qatar is helping to advance sustainability in the Gulf region

Qatar is a small nation that became independent from Britain in 1971 and has achieved incredible development over the past 20 years. Yet it is a paced development that has drawn on the experiences of other nations in the Gulf region.

Few modern countries share the range and intensity of Qatar’s social and environmental challenges – including water and food security, poor urban air quality and limited waste management facilities – all of which are critical to the country’s sustainable development (SD).

In 2008, Qatar’s “National vision 2030” introduced “human development” – that is, development of all its people to enable them to sustain a prosperous society – as a fourth pillar to the traditional SD trio of social, environmental and economic. It recognises that the population itself is a key resource to be nurtured as custodians of the nation’s sustainable development. The 2009 document, Advancing sustainable development, takes this further and provides a status report on Qatar’s marine environment, water resources, air quality and economy. Delivery of the 2022 World Cup will be a major milestone en route to 2030, but the overriding vision is to move the emirate from a hydro-carbon economy to a knowledge-based one.

Comprehensive environmental regulation is relatively new in Qatar. For example, Law 30, the foundation of environmental protection, was introduced in 2002, followed by environmental by-laws in 2005. The ministry of the environment (MoE), which replaced the environment and natural resources council (SCENR), was established in 2007. Today scores of mega-projects are under way in Qatar (including road, rail, port and waste management) as the country strives to achieve legislative compliance and raise standards. Progress includes banning trawling, cutting gas flaring and strictly controlling marine discharges.

“Hima” is an ancient Arabic word meaning protected area and reflects an ability to live sustainably with the surrounding environment. Qataris are realising the importance of revitalising this knowledge. Sustainability will be “re-achieved” in Qatar, albeit at a rate that is right for the country, and which does not disrupt the delicate balance between development and preservation of culture and heritage.

Harry Sealy, MIEMA, chair of IEMA Middle East, is a consultant at CH2MHILL International. These views are his personal opinions.


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