إدارة النفايات في المغرب

تعد إدارة النفايات الصلبة واحدة من المشكلات البيئية الرئيسية التي تهدد المملكة  المغربية. إذ تنتج هذه الأخيرة أكثر من 5 ملايين طن من النفايات الصلبة بمعدل نمو توليد النفايات السنوي وصل إلى 3 في المئة. و يعاني التخلص السليم من النفايات الصلبة البلدية في المغرب من أوجه قصور رئيسية  تتمثل في عدم وجود البنية التحتية المناسبة والتمويل المناسب في المناطق خارج المدن الرئيسية.

وقد أبان تقرير البنك الدولي،  على أنه في عام 2008، قبل الإصلاح الأخير  "لم يتم  جمع إلا 70 من المئة فقط من النفايات الصلبة البلدية في المدن وأن فقط  أقل من 10 من المئة من النفايات التي تم جمعها هي التي يجري التخلص منها بطريقة مقبولة بيئيا اجتماعيا. هذا مع وجود حوالي 300 مكب نفايات عشوائي، وحوالي 3500 جامع للنفايات، يشكل الأطفال 10 في المئة منهم ،  يعيشون داخل وحول هذه المكبات المفتوحة ".

خطر حرق النفايات

إنه لمن المألوف أن نرى حرق النفايات  كوسيلة للتخلص من النفايات الصلبة في المغرب. حاليا، يتم التخلص من النفايات البلدية  بطريقة هوجاء وغير مستدامة و التي لها آثار كبيرة على الصحة العامة والبيئة. فعدم وجود البنية التحتية لإدارة النفايات يؤدي إلى حرقها كشكل من أشكال التخلص من النفايات غير المكلفة. وللأسف، فإن الآثار الصحية الرئيسية لحرق النفايات هي، يا إما غير معروفة على نطاق واسع أومستهان بها بشكل صارخ  من طرف الغالبية العظمى من السكان في المغرب.

يشكل حرق النفايت مصدر قلق صحي خاص بسبب كمية الديوكسينات الكبيرة التي تنتج أثناء عملية الحرق. إذ يعد الديوكسين من الملوّثات البيئية شديدة السمية التي يتم تحريرها عند حرق النفايات المنزلية. أكثر الديوكسينات التي يتم إصدارها في الهواء أثناء عملية الحرق ينتهي بها المطاف إلى الترسب على أوراق النباتات الخضراء. وبالتالي دخولها في السلسلة الغذائية عبر أكلها من قبل  الحيوانات الحلوبة مثل الأبقار والأغنام والماعز مما ينتج عنه تخزين الديوكسينات وتراكمها في الأنسجة الدهنية لهاته الحيونات. و بمجرد حدوث ذلك، يصبح  من الصعب تجنب الديوكسينات  ويكون الإنسان ، في المقام الأول، الأكثر عرضة لخطر الديوكسينات من خلال تناوله اللحوم ومنتجات الألبان الأخرى، وخاصة تلك التي تحتوي على نسبة عالية من الدهون.

وعلاوة على ذلك، فإن هذا النوع من الحرق في الهواء الطلق يتسبب أيضا في تلوث الجسيمات. ويقصد بهذه الأخيرة، الجسيمات المجهرية التي ينتهي بها المطاف إلى الترسب في الرئتين وبالتالي تسببها في عدد  كبيرمن المشاكل الصحية للإنسان، مثل الربو والتهاب الشعب الهوائية. و للأسف، يعتبر الأطفال وكبار السن الذين يتعرضون للديوكسينات هم المهددون الأكثر بتلك الأمراض. عدا هذا، ينتج عن هذا الحرق مواد مسرطنة ضارة أخرى مثل الهيدروكربونات العطرية متعددة الحلقات، ثنائي الفينيل متعدد الكلور (PCB)، والمركبات العضوية المتطايرة، وسداسي كلورو البنزين .و من المعروف أن هذه  الملوّثات  تسبب مشاكل صحية عدة تتراوح بين تهيج الجلد إلى تلف الكبد والكلى وحتى في بعض الحالات الأكثر خطورة فقد تم ربطها بالسرطان.

و غالبا ما يحتوي الرماد، نفسه الناتج عن حرق النفايات، على الزئبق والرصاص والكروم والزرنيخ. "بإمكانية امتصاص و ومراكمة خضروات الحديقة  لهذه المعادن،  قد يشكل تناولها خطرا على الصحة. يمكن أيضا للأطفال الذين يلعبون في الساحة أو الحديقة أن يبتلعون، عن دون قصد، التربة التي تحتوي على هذه المعادن. أيضا، يمكن أن يجرف المطر الرماد إلى المياه الجوفية والمياه السطحية، و بذلك تتلوث مياه الشرب والغذاء. "هذا دون التطرق إلى فئة جامعي النفايات الذين يعرضون صحتهم مباشرة للخطر بفرزهم نفايات البلدية.

الجانب الإيجابي

إلا نه هناك خبر سار بخصوص مستقبل إدارة النفايات الصلبة في المغرب و الذي يتمثل في كون البنك الدولي قد خصص 271300000 دولار للحكومة المغربية من أجل وضع خطة إدارة النفايات البلدية . وتشمل تفاصيل الخطة استعادة حوالي 80 موقع دفن النفايات، وتحسين خدمات جمع النفايات، وزيادة إعادة التدوير بنسبة 20٪، وهذا كله بحلول عام 2020. في حين يتوقع  أن يصنع هذا الإصلاح المعجزات لسكان المناطق الحضرية فإن المرء يأمل أن تشمل فوائد هذا الإصلاح  فقط حوالي 43٪ من سكان المغرب الذين يعيشون في المناطق الريفية، مثل أولئك الذين يعيشون في قريتي.

ومما يعد من البديهيات، أنه وبالرغم من توجه المغرب نحو نظام إدارة ، أكثرصداقة للبيئة  وأكثر أمانا، للنفايات الصلبة، فإن عددا كبيرا من سكانه، بمن فيهم الأطفال وكبار السن، سيغفل عنهم هذا الإصلاح. و حتى يتم بذل المزيد من الجهد، بما في ذلك مبادرات التمويل وزيادة في التعليم، سيظل هؤلاء الناس عرضة لظروف معيشية حرجة بسبب التمويل غير المناسب، و وضعية البنية التحتية والتعليم.

 

ترجمة

هند سلامة، حاصلة على شهادة الدكتوراة تخصص الكيمياءـ البيئة من كلية العلوم عين الشق جامعة الحسن الثاني ـ المغرب، عملت كمديرة مشاريع في عدة مؤسسات و أعمل حاليا كمستشارة مستقلة في مجال البيئة و التنمية المستدامة و مترجمة  ، هذا عدا عن مساهماتي في البرنامج التطوعي للأمم المتحدة  UNVو متطوعة أيضا مع EcoMENA

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Medical Waste Management in MENA

Healthcare sector in MENA region is growing at a very rapid pace, which in turn has led to tremendous increase in the quantity of medical waste generation by hospitals, clinics and other establishments. According to a recent Ministry of State for Environmental Affairs report, Egypt generated 28,300 tons of hazardous medical wastes in 2010. In the GCC region, more than 150 tons of medical waste is generated in GCC countries every day. Saudi Arabia leads the pack with daily healthcare waste generation of more than 80 tons. These figures are indicative of the magnitude of the problem faced by municipal authorities in dealing with medical waste disposal problem across the MENA region. 

Multitude of Problems

The growing amount of medical wastes is posing significant public health and environmental challenges in major cities of the region. The situation is worsened by improper disposal methods, insufficient physical resources, and lack of research on medical waste management. Improper management of medical wastes from hospitals, clinics and other facilities in MENA pose occupational and public health risks to patients, health workers, waste handlers, haulers and general public. It may also lead to contamination of air, water and soil which may affect all forms of life. In addition, if waste is not disposed of properly, ragpickers may collect disposable medical equipment (particularly syringes) and to resell these materials which may cause dangerous diseases.

Improper management of medical wastes from hospitals, clinics and other facilities in MENA pose occupational and public health risks to patients, health workers, waste handlers, haulers and general public. It may also lead to contamination of air, water and soil which may affect all forms of life. In addition, if waste is not disposed of properly, ragpickers may collect disposable medical equipment (particularly syringes) and to resell these materials which may cause dangerous diseases.

Medical waste management method in MENA is limited to either small-scale incineration or landfilling. The practice of landfilling of medical wastes is a matter of serious concern as it poses grave risks to public health, water resources, soil fertility as well as air quality. In many Middle East and North Africa countries, medical wastes is mixed with municipal solid wastes and/or industrial wastes which transforms medical wastes into a cocktail of dangerous substances. 

The WHO policy paper of 2004 and the Stockholm Convention, has stressed the need to consider the risks associated with the incineration of healthcare waste as a typical medical waste incinerator releases a wide variety of pollutants which may include particulate matter, heavy metals, acid gases, carbon monoxide and organic compounds. Sometimes pathogens may also be found in the solid residues and in the exhaust of poorly designed and badly operated incinerators. In addition, leachable organic compounds, like dioxins and heavy metals, are usually present in bottom ash residues. Due to these factors, many industrialized countries are phasing out healthcare incinerators and exploring technologies that do not produce any dioxins. Countries like United States, Ireland, Portugal, Canada and Germany have completely shut down or put a moratorium on medical waste incinerators. 

Promising Treatment Options

The alternative technologies for healthcare waste treatment are steam sterilization, advanced steam sterilization, microwave treatment, dry heat sterilization, alkaline hydrolysis, and biological treatment. Nowadays, steam sterilization (or autoclaving) is the most common alternative treatment method. Advanced autoclaves or advanced steam treatment technologies combine steam treatment with vacuuming, internal mixing or fragmentation, internal shredding, drying, and compaction thus leading to as much as 90% volume reduction. 

Microwave treatment is a promising technology in which treatment occurs through the introduction of moist heat and steam generated by microwave energy. Alkaline digestion is a unique type of chemical process that uses heated alkali to digest tissues, pathological waste, anatomical parts, or animal carcasses in heated stainless steel tanks. Biological processes, like composting and vermicomposting, can also be used to degrade organic matter in healthcare waste such as kitchen waste and placenta.

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Earth Day 2017: Environmental and Climate Literacy

The campaign theme for Earth Day 2017 is Environmental & Climate Literacy, and conservationists, researchers and educators will be using this Earth Day to increase awareness about climate change and environmental issues. Earth Day has now grown into a global environmental tradition making it the largest civic observance in the world and is widely celebrated event in which over one billion people from over 190 countries will participate by taking suitable actions for saving our mother Earth.

Significance of Climate Literacy

Education is the foundation for progress. We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.

The campaign hopes to not only educate and inspire but also advance policies geared towards defending our environment and accelerating green jobs and technologies. To achieve these aims, Earth Day 2017 encourages everyone to gather with their communities for an Environmental & Climate Literacy Teach-In.

“Education is the foundation for progress,” Earth Day Network said on their website. “We need to build a global citizenry fluent in the concepts of climate change and aware of its unprecedented threat to our planet. We need to empower everyone with the knowledge to inspire action in defense of environmental protection.”

Environmental and climate literacy is the engine not only for green growth and advancing environmental and climate laws and policies but also for accelerating green technologies and jobs.

Time for Action

Planting trees and enhancing forest cover is critical work because it has the potential to restore land, benefit local communities, and combat climate change. In fact, poverty is linked to deforestation, and without tackling sectors like agriculture and forestry, it will be nearly impossible to avoid the worst consequences of climate change.

Environmental education is the foundation for progress.

To help jumpstart Earth Day education efforts, the Earth Day Network has downloadable Earth Day Action Toolkits available that explain scientific and environmental crises caused by human actions. By providing this literature, the network is hoping to help enact change and take steps toward progress.

The Earth Day movement is continuing, entering the 47th year to inspire, challenge ideas, ignite passion, and motivate people to action. Let us contribute to the best of our capabilities. This initiative will make a significant and measurable impact on the Earth and will serve as the foundation of a cleaner, healthier and more sustainable planet for all.

You can also get involved by making small green changes in your lifestyle:

  • Walk to work, cycle or take public transport
  • Cut back on single use plastics
  • Recycle
  • Go paperless
  • Go meat or dairy free at least once a week
  • Plant a tree
  • Buy local produce

 

Guide to Green Hajj

The Hajj is one of the five pillars of Islam and is an annual pilgrimage to Makkah. It is a mandatory religious duty for Muslims which must be carried out at least once in lifetime by every adult Muslim who is physically and financially capable of undertaking the journey. The Hajj gathering is considered to be the largest gathering of people in the world whereby Muslims from many countries converge to do the religious rites.  Nearly three million Muslims perform Hajj each year. Making necessary arrangements each year for the growing number of pilgrims poses a gigantic logistic challenge for the Saudi Government and respective Authorities, as housing, transportation, sanitation, food and health care needs are to be provided to the pilgrims.

Environmental Footprint

The Hajj has an enormous environmental footprint. During Hajj, huge quantities of wastes are generated which needs to be appropriately collected, handled and managed. Other impacts are of water use and wastewater generation and treatment, transporting vehicles causing terrible air pollution damaging the health of the pilgrims, littering causing choking of public infrastructures, plastic bottles, used diapers, food packaging etc. are an eyesore. The problem is compounded due to ignorance, over enthusiasm, illiteracy of pilgrims and lack of commitment to handle the environmental resources.

Unfortunately, majority of the pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam and obligations of protecting the environment. According to the Quran, humans are entrusted to be the maintainers of the earth, its ecology and environment.The Hajj can be sustainable if the pilgrims behave in an environmental friendly manner and avoid different types of pollution.

A vast majority of Hajj pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam.

A vast majority of Hajj pilgrims are not aware of the innate nature of environmentalism within Islam.

Towards a Green Hajj

We need to understand that the respective authorities plan, spend and provide facilities to match with the number of pilgrims, but the irresponsible attitude of many people jeopardize the environmental resources. Following aspects will help the pilgrims in making their Hajj greener and help in conservation of resources:

  • Green purchasing, buy what is required and only environmentally–friendly products
  • Using minimum quantity of water for ablution, bath and personal use. Opening water gadgets and tap to allow limited flow. Washing clothes with minimum water.
  • Reporting any water leakages to the Authority.
  • Re-filling and reusing water bottles.
  • Buying food only what you can eat, surplus food should be avoided.
  • Avoiding food packaging.
  • Avoid disposable cutlery, plates, glasses etc.
  • Avoid littering, collecting all waste and disposing it at designated locations. 
  • Avoid using plastic shopping bags.
  • Moving and using group transport facilities.
  • Minimize electricity usage.
  • Avoid leaving lights on in empty rooms.
  • Switching off the chargers, once used.
  • Purchase energy efficient appliances, if required.
  • Avoid using electrical appliances on standby.

The recent Islamic declaration on climate change exhorts us to work steadfastly to minimize our ecological footrpint and make individual pledges to help our planet. Environment is Allah’s creation and has to be respected. Let us make our contribution to the Green Hajj and make a profound impact on the ecosystem, making it more sustainable and manageable and show that Islam is the ideal platform for ecological and environmental preservation.

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Leakage Control: Effective Tool for Water Conservation

water-leakageWater is a basic need of our life and is amply provided by the Governmental agencies. However, we as consumers do not prioritize on water wastage and leakages issue due to the subsidized water cost. The leakages from taps, valves and appurtenant are often noticed but the invisible leakages under the sink often goes un-noticed and drips occurring are not taken seriously and addressed till the leakage get larger and leak get worse.

The Menace of Water Leaks

Water leaks from pipes, plumbing fixtures, faucets, valves and fittings are a common sight in buildings and structures and is a significant source of water wastage.  Only a small drip from a worn faucet washer can waste around 75 liters of water per day. Thus, we need to check all the water pipes and fittings regularly to assess their operational status and any leak occurring should be urgently repaired or replaced.

Leaks from pipes, plumbing fixtures and fittings are a significant source of water wastage for many households.  Research has shown that the typical home can lose 7.6 m3 to 76 m3 of water per year due to leaks. Some leaks are obvious, such as dripping faucets and leaking water heaters. Unfortunately, many leaks go undetected for years because the source of the leak is not visible. Faucet leaks are a common occurrence and usually simple to repair.  A faucet dripping slowly at only one drop every two seconds will waste more than 1,000 gallons or 3.7 m3 per year.   

Toilets are another common source of leaks in the home, and usually go unnoticed because the leaks are often silent and out of view.  Several research studies have found 20% to 35% of all residential toilets leak to some degree. Large toilet leaks can be detected when the valve constantly emits a hissing or gurgling sound when the toilet is not in use.

Detection of Water Leakages

We frequently see dripping and leaking water gadgets, pipes and toilets but do not take any action for its correction, mainly because of our attitude and lack of awareness. It is now important to inspect our water gadgets, pipes and fittings in our home, dwelling and place of work or study and take corrective actions. For checking the water leakages, first note water meter reading. Re-check again after two hours with all water gadgets are shut. If the meter does not read exactly the same, you probably have a leak in the system whereby water is being wasted for which you have to pay the cost which will be increasing with time. 

If your toilet is leaking, the cause is often an old, faulty rubber packing/ washer which decay with number of uses or minerals build up on it. Replacing the damaged rubber packing is inexpensive and can be done easily. Another way to find out if you have a toilet leak is to place a drop of color dye in the toilet tank. If the color shows up in the bowl within 15 minutes without flushing, you have a leak. Make sure to flush water immediately after this experiment to avoid staining the tank and toilet.

Conclusion

Potable water is supplied to our homes, offices and institutions after abstraction, treatment and through long distribution and pumping network and entails huge cost which is heavily subsidized by the Government. It is high time that we consider water conservation as a priority step and avoid any water wastage and leakages at home, offices and institutions.  

The time is now to deal with our water leaks promptly and giving it a priority. Remember- fixing leaks will save money, is good for the environment and will save our limited water resources.  

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Medical Waste Management: An Infographic

Healthcare sector in the Middle East is growing at a very rapid pace, which in turn has led to tremendous increase in the quantity of medical waste generation by hospitals, clinics and other establishments. The growing amount of medical waste in Middle East is posing significant public health and environmental challenges across the region. The situation is worsened by improper disposal methods, insufficient physical resources, and lack of research on medical waste management.

This infographic will provide more insights into medical waste management situation in the Middle East.

Plastic Upcycling Initiative in Egypt

The sheer volume of plastic waste generated coupled with energy and material resources required for production, as well as emissions resulting from these processes paint a grim picture of the environmental havoc created by plastic bags. Single-use plastic bags are a huge threat to the environment as an estimated 1 trillion such bags are consumed worldwide every year.

Plastic bags are notorious for their interference in natural ecosystems and for causing the death of aquatic organisms, animals and birds. In 2006, The United Nations Environment Programme estimated that there are 46,000 pieces of plastic litter floating in every square mile of ocean and upto 80 percent of marine debris worldwide is plastic which are responsible for the death of a more than a million seabirds and 100,000 marine mammals each year from starvation, choking or entanglement.

Re: Genuine Plastic Bags

The problems associated with single-use plastic bags forced two Egyptian youngsters – Yara Yassin and Rania Rafie – to think of a way of reusing plastic bags. Their upcycling venture, Re: Genuine Plastic Bags, makes innovative handbags sewn from throwaway plastic.  Re: Genuine plastic bag is a start up business that aims to recollect existing plastic bags and re-design them in a form of fashionable bags that can be used in day-to-day life, in order to prolong the life of plastic bags, thus producing lesser amount of wastes. They endeavor to create bags that are self-designed and meant for various kinds of stores, brand names, graphical elements and different lifestyles of consumers

The models are produced through a new technique of fusing plastic bags together. The new fused material becomes dryer and more firm, when left to dry, which takes maximum 40 seconds. The outcome is based on the thickness and type of plastic bags fused; if the plastic bag is too thin (LDPE), then it needs several layers to be fused without completely melting. The outcome is also imprecise, as it may shrink from the heat, and maintaining a straight line is almost impossible.

Yara and Rania feel that the eco-friendly bags are a great way to motivate people towards behavioral change, especially in the Middle East. More information about Re: Genuine Plastic Bags can be found at this link

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Say ‘No’ to Disposables

The waste quantities in all parts of the world are increasing many folds. In the past three decades, the waste quantities have almost been doubled. The per capita waste generation is alarmingly high especially in GCC countries. The municipal and governmental authorities have to spend huge resources in collection, storage, transportation, treatment and disposal of these wastes. With limited recycling facilities and absence of reusing culture, more quantities of the waste is now to be managed.

Major part of our municipal waste is still heading towards our landfill sites where it is being dumped, compacted and covered. The landfills are in quarries areas which are becoming soon filled up with the waste. In Bahrain almost 1.7 cum of space is required to accommodate 1 tons of waste.

Use of disposable cutlery has been increasing exponentially in developing countries

Despite a growing push to recycle and reuse, we must try to correct not the symptoms but the disease, and to do that, we should all avoid and reduce. The use of ‘disposables’ in the Middle East has increased exponentially in recent years and the items and quantities are increasing with each passing day. Here are few suggestions to avoid the use of disposables in our daily lives:

  • Avoid Paper Cups and Plates as paper manufacturing consume trees and are bleached white with chlorine, a process that releases dioxin, one of the most toxic chemicals on the planet, and emit methane, a greenhouse gas when trashed and thrown in a landfill.
  • Avoid Polystyrene & Styrofoam which are hazardous, carcinogens, cause air pollution and can cause nervous system impairments among workers. Styrene can leach from containers into our food. Polystyrene cannot be recycled and never biodegrades; it only breaks down into smaller pieces, polluting the environment and harming the animals that mistake it for food.
  • Avoid Bottled Water and use reusable containers for water storage and drinking.
  • Avoid Plastic and Paper Shopping Bags. Keep your own cloth bag ready for all occasions.
  • Avoid Plastic Utensils, paper napkins, plastic cutlery, forks, spoons and knives. Use chinaware or glassware instead.
  • Avoid Use rechargeable batteries instead of single use batteries. •Avoid using disposable diapers and use cloth diapers.
  • Using ink pen rather than ball points and getting a refillables. •Using handkerchief rather than tissue and paper towels.
  • Avoid using disposable stirrers and individually packaged sugar, milk and creamer. Use a spoon for stirring and place the sugar and milk in reusable containers or jugs.
  • Avoid using individual sachets of chilly, mayonnaise or ketchup sauce. Store the sauce in reusable bottles and dispensers instead.
  • Avoid Gift Wrapping and put the gift in a reusable bag instead..

Each time you throw something in the trash, please consider that you have paid its cost and are contributing towards more waste at the landfill.

Please avoid disposables. Be wise and environmental friendly.

Environment as a Peace-Building Tool

The world is changing demographically, economically, politically and environmentally. The acquisition of natural resources, such as water, can be viewed as a threat to the international security. Severe environmental degradation can deepen regional divisions and trigger social conflicts for communities that depend on these resources for their livelihoods and fulfillment of basic needs. Moreover, the environment itself can be dramatically affected by such conflicts.

The unprecedented demand for natural resources is fuelling ethnic conflicts, causing large-scale displacement and is a severe threat to the lands, livelihoods and the way of life of indigenous people. Infact, many of the bloodiest conflicts in Africa and Asia in recent years have been fuelled by profits from the exploitation of natural resources, including diamonds, timber and minerals. Indigenous communities ranging from the Batwa of Central Africa to hill tribes in northern Thailand, Bedouin in the Middle East and Uighurs in China's Xinjiang province face a grave risk of being forced from their land and resources by activities taking place in the name of industrial development.

Locally, tensions over non-extractive natural resources that have an impact on livelihoods can also drive conflicts. Tension can result from the decline of limited sources and inequitable distribution and utilization within a given context; this may spill over into wider instability and violence. In the case of Darfur, one of the reasons that led to violence is competition between herders and farmers over land; historical ethnic divisions compounded this conflict.

A New Approach to Stability

Recognizing the linkages between the environment and insecurity, former U.N. Secretary-General Kofi Annan called for integrating environmental initiatives to solve conflict and instability into the U.N.’s conflict prevention policy. So, if environmental degradation can trigger conflict and violence, then environmental cooperation initiatives can be used as stability-sustaining tools. This can create a dialogue between parties in conflict. Environmental challenges, such as industrial pollution, are global issues that ignore political boundaries. These challenges require a long-term perspective to achieve sustainable management, encourage local and nongovernmental participation, and extend community building beyond the polarization of economic linkages. Furthermore, environment cooperation can build bridges across boundaries and between people, and enhance building a more sustainable peace and stability.

Environmental cooperation can be initial building blocks for increasing confidence and enhancing trust between communities, hence, reducing uncertainties and mitigating tensions. Cooperative sharing of resources encourages common goals, and establishes recognized rights and expectations. Moreover, initiatives of cooperation to manage environmental resources will promote peace between disputing parties and may establish sustained interaction and long-term relationships, encouraging stability. The more environmental initiatives exist, the more conflicts will be resolved in a non-violent manner. Environmental initiatives can be used to initiate dialogue between disputing parties even for non-ecological conflicts.

Shared water supply is an important domain for environmental conflict resolution. Sharing of water resources represents an opportunity to keep the dialogue alive between disputing parties such as in the Nile river case. Management of biodiversity conservation in disputed areas is a major aspect of environmental peace-building strategies. This may help to achieve win-win solutions between local communities. It is worthy to mention that NGOs can enhance the chances of sustainable peace by promoting awareness and motivation of local community participation. Therefore, their influence must be strengthened in policy decisions that are related to environmental security.

Environment and the Arab Spring

In the wake of historic Arab Spring, a new approach to sustainability is required in the Middle East. The Arab world offers a fertile ground and ample opportunities to prepare a sustainable mechanism for peace and regional security using environment as a tool. Traditional tools of conservation, such as Hima and Haram, produce a promising opportunity for environmental synergies in the region.

In order to protect land, forests and wildlife, Prophet Muhammad (Sallallahu Alaihi Wasallam) created inviolable zones in which resources were to be left untouched. Haram areas were drawn up around wells and water sources to protect the groundwater from overpumping. Hima applied to wildlife and forestry and designated an area of land where grazing and woodcutting was restricted, or where certain animal species (such as camels) were protected.

Adopting natural environmental initiatives, such as Hima and Haram, has multiple direct and indirect benefits for development in West Asia. It can enhance trust, build confidence, and reduce uncertainties in the Arab world, which may help in finding an amicable solution to multiple problems faced by this strategic region.

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COP21 Paris: Powered by 200 Megatonnes of Coal-fired CO2

As negotiators around the world gather for what many expect to be a groundbreaking UN climate negotiating session at the 21st Conference of Parties (COP21) which will seek a legally binding agreement on climate action, few may know that their meeting is being funded by the Coal industry. The corporate sponsorship of COP21 creates a dangerous conflict of interest in three key respects. Many of the sponsors are highly invested in oil, gas, coal, and other carbon-polluting sectors, and have a vested interest in obstructing or weakening any real action on climate change. However, with major industrial polluters using their deep pockets to influence climate policy at every level, how will a meaningful agreement be secured?

Corporate Interest at COP21

A new report released by Corporate Accountability International highlights that 4 of the leading sponsors of this year’s UN climate negotiations are collectively responsible for more than 200 megatonnes of CO2 emissions worldwide. The report titled, ‘Fueling the Fire – The corporate sponsors bankrolling COP21’ reveals how European energy giants Engie, Électricité de France (EDF), Suez Environment and BNP Paribas collectively own more than 46 coal-fired power plants around the world, including investments in oil sands exploration in Canada and fracking for shale gas in the UK. This has raised serious concerns ahead of the UN conference as to the role that corporate lobby groups should have, as many feel that this direct financial interest goes against the moral focus of the negotiations.

Patti Lynn, Executive director of Corporate Accountability International noted that the decision to allow these large polluters to sponsor the conference is “akin to hiring a fox to guard a hen house". She also argued that the UN climate negotiation was at risk of becoming a “corporate tradeshows for false market-based solutions.”

The report not only highlights the public behaviour of many of these companies, but also what they do behind the scenes. Earlier this year, ExxonMobil was famously outed for having suppressed knowledge of their role on contributing to Climate Change for the past 30 years.  However, it appears that many of the new conference sponsors have similarly questionable records on direct policy interference. While EDF claims to be “committed to a decarbonized world,” it is an active member alongside ExxonMobil and Shell of Business Europe.  This group has been linked to; openly oppose the “market deployment of energy produced from renewable sources” across Europe.

But it is perhaps their public actions that speak the loudest. In 2014, the sponsoring energy giant Engie directly profited from more than 131 megatons of greenhouse gas emissions. That is equivalent to the pollution emitted from driving a car around the globe 12 million times. "Despite recent announcements to stop new coal projects, Engie still owns 30 dirty coal power plants worldwide." Célia Gautier, policy advisor at Climate Action Network France. The report finally calls for future climate policy-making to be free of corporate interests through directly disallowing large contributors to climate change from the policy-making process, in a similar way that big tobacco was kicked out of health talks a decade ago.

UNFCCC – Twenty Years of Inaction

After two decades of negotiations, the UNFCCC has been unable to achieve meaningful action on climate change. The failure of 20 climate summits to date has corresponded with a dramatic speed up of greenhouse gas emission rates. In fact, since 1988, more than half of all industrial carbon emissions have been released, raising the prospect of irreversible climate change.

Global inaction on climate change is also the consequence of political and economic interference by the fossil fuel industry. For decades, corporations, like ExxonMobil and Shell, have run sophisticated and effective campaigns of denial and deception about climate change. To undermine progress on climate policy and to secure their own profits, they have utilized a range of interference tactics, including financial contributions, corruption and lobbying, PR campaigns, litigation and legal threats, funding junk science, issuing contradictory statements, and sponsoring front groups, think tanks, and trade associations to do their dirty work.

The association of such corporations with the UNFCCC has not simply blocked or impeded meaningful climate action. It also has shifted the focus of negotiations onto market-based solutions, such as carbon prices and trading, as well as onto techno-fixes, such as carbon sequestration, fracking, and nuclear energy none of which have reduced overall emissions globally or spurred wide-spread low-carbon investments in national economies that meet the the deadlines for averting climate chaos. These same corporations have also interfered with the proceedings and operations of the UNFCCC. From the earliest COP meetings to today, transnational corporations and their associated business lobbies have positioned themselves to undermine or influence any potential climate treaty.

Time for Action

The time for action is now. With the world watching, governments must agree to remove the influence of fossil fuel corporations and other polluting industries from climate change negotiations. With precedent established in international law specifically, in the World Health Organization’s Framework Convention on Tobacco Control it is possible to exclude the big carbon polluters from U.N. summits on climate change. Indeed, it is the only way to secure bold, effective policy at COP21 that will curb the effects of climate change and move us to a more just, equitable future for all.

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The Menace of Plastic Water Bottles

During the holy month of Ramadan, the use of drinking water increases many folds as water bottles are supplied and provided especially at ‘Fatoor’ and dinner at religious places, hotels, Ramadan tents and private homes. The main consumption is however, at the religious places due to longer stay of people in offering special night prayers (taraweeh and Qiyam ul Lail). These water bottles are provided in bulk by philanthropists, sponsors and people at religious places to quench the thirst of people who gather for the long prayers.

In the Middle East, it is common to see people greatly misuse this resource considering it free, taking a bottle, sipping it half and leaving it at the venue. These used and partially consumed water bottles are then collected and thrown away in municipal garbage bins from where  it is collected and transported to Askar municipal landfill site located some 25 km away from the city center. These water bottles thus have a high carbon footprint and represent enormous wastage of precious water source and misuse of our other fragile resources. In many cases, these water bottles are being littered around the commercial and religious places.

Plastic water bottles are a common feature in our urban daily life. Bottled water is widely used by people from all walks of life and is considered to be convenient and safer than tap water. A person on an average drinks around 2.0 liters of water a day and may consume 4-6 plastic bottles per day. UAE is considered as the highest per capita consumer of bottled water worlwide. 

We need to understand that plastic is made from petroleum.  24 million gallons of oil is needed to produce a billion plastic bottles. Plastic takes around 700 years to be degraded. 90% of the cost of bottled water is due to the bottle itself. 80% of plastic bottles produced are not recycled.

Globally, plastic recycling rate is very low and major quantities of plastics are being disposed in the landfills, where they stay for hundreds of years not being naturally degraded. Recycling one ton of plastic saves 5.74 cubic meters of landfill space and save cost of collection and transportation.

Water bottles manufacturing, transportation, distribution and again collection and disposal after its use create enormous pollution in terms of trash generation, global warming and air pollution. The transportation of bottled water from its source to stores alone releases thousands of tons of carbon dioxide. In addition to the millions of gallons of water used in the plastic-making process, two gallons of water are wasted in the purification process for every gallon that goes into the plastic bottles.

The first step is that once you open a water bottle, you need to complete consume it to fully utilize the resource. Do not throw the plastic bottles as litter. The solution to the plastic bottles usage lies in its minimum use and safe disposal. Alternatively, a flask, thermos or reusable water bottle can be used which can be refilled as required. It is suggested that religious places, hotels and malls should have efficient water treatment plants to reduce the use of plastic water bottles.

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فوائد لا تحصى للأراضي الرطبة

لطالما أغفلنا روعة وأهمية الأراضي الرطبة بسبب جهلنا للميزات العديدة لهذا النظام البيئي. و لطالما استخدم مصطلح الأراضي الرطبة   للتعبير عن المستنقعات العكرة  المليئة بالبعوض أو الأراضي غير المستغلة التي تحتاج إلى بعض التحسينات لتكون أكثر إفادة للإنسان. و قد أدى هذا التقليل من شأن وأهمية الأراضي الرطبة إلى فقدان الكثير منها، الأمر الذي استلزم التوقيع على معاهدة الأراضي الرطبة في رامسار، في إيران عام 1971. ولا تزال تلك المعاهدة تعد بمثابة الحركة الدولية للمحافظة على الأراضي الرطبة، حيث تضم أكثر من 160 دولة موقعة.

لقد وضح الراحل نيلسون مانديلا روعة التنوع البيولوجي الموجود في الأراضي الرطبة عندما ذكر منطقة القديس لوسيا في خطاب له قائلاً: "نستطيع القول أن الأراضي الرطبة هي المكان الوحيد على الكرة الأرضية الذي يتعايش فيه أقدم الثدييات البرية في العالم (وحيد القرن) وأكبر الثدييات البرية (الفيل) مع أقدم الأسماك في العالم ( سمك سيلكانث) وأكبر الثدييات البحرية في العالم الحوت)".

و يمكن أن تكون الأراضي الرطبة طبيعية أو اصطناعية، كما يمكن أن تكون مشبعة بمياه عذبة أو مالحة أوآسنة (و هي المياه التي تكون نسبة ملوحتها عالية ولكن ليس بقدر ملوحة مياه البحر)، هذا وتدعم هذه الأراضي الغطاء النباتي الذي يتم تكييفه خصيصا للنمو في التربة المشبعة. و بصرف النظر عن خصائصها الفريدة، فإن الأسرار الحقيقية لهذه الأراضي تكمن في منافعها المتعددة للإنسان وللبيئة.

و تعد واحدة من أهم خصائص هذا النظام البيئي المدهشة هو أنه يعد بمثابة اسفنجة أو نظام طبيعي للسيطرة على الفيضانات. حيث أن طبيعية الأراضي الرطبة تمكنها من استيعاب مياه الأمطار وبالتالي تقليل كمية الماء التي تصل إلى الأنهار والجداول مما يقلل بشكل طبيعي من خطر الفيضانات. ويساعد اتساع السهول الفيضية  أيضا على التحكم في حركة و تخزين مياه الأمطار. و بالإضافة إلى ذلك، فإن الميزة المدهشة الأخرى للأراضي الرطبة هي قدرتها على تنقية المياه من خلال احتجازها للملوثات داخل التربة والغطاء النباتي. وعليه فإن الأراضي الرطبة تعتبر فعالة جدا في تنقية المياه ولذا يتم استخدامها لتنقية المياه العادمة الناتجة عن الصناعة والتعدين و مياه الصرف الصحي.

و علاوة على ذلك، تساهم الأراضي الرطبة في تجديد إمدادات المياه الجوفية والتي تعتبر مصدرا هاما لتزويد المياه. كما تدعم حياة مجموعة كبيرة ومتنوعة من الأنواع الحيوانية والنباتية. و على الرغم من المزايا الإيجابية  المتعددة لهذه لأراضي إلا أنه وللأسف، هناك العديد من العوامل التي تهدد هذا النوع من المناظر الطبيعية. فعلى سبيل المثال،  تعاني الأراضي الرطبة في جنوب أفريقيا من عدة مشاكل تهدد ديمومتها منها: الرعي الجائر، والتلوث بالمبيدات الحشرية، والنمو التجاري والنباتات الدخيلة وسوء إدارة مياه الأمطار في المناطق الحضرية..

و في المناطق الجافة في الشرق الأوسط، و نظرا لزيادة الطلب على المياه العذب فإن الأراضي الرطبة الداخلية، مثل الأنهار والبحيرات، بدأت في طريقها إلى الاضمحلال، و تعتبر واحة الأزرق (وهي موقع رامسار الوحيد في الأردن) ونهر الموجب من الأمثلة الجيدة على  الوضع الحرج للمياه في الشرق الأوسط. وتواجه الأراضي الرطبة في العراق أيضا خطر الاندثار كنتيجة لعقود ممتدة من الصراعات وسوء الإدارة بالإضافة إلى قربها من الحقول النفطية. ويعد فقدان الأراضي الرطبة مؤشراً واضحاً على مشاكل تتعدى كونها مشاكل انخفاض وفرة المياه؛ فهي مشكلة تهدد البيئة والناس الذين كانوا يعتمدون على هذه المناطق.

وبوصفنا حماة لهذه لأرض، فإن من مسؤوليتنا أن نخصص بعض الوقت ليس فقط للزيارة ومعرفة المزيد عن هذه البيئات ولكن ينبغي أن نشارك في مشاريع للمساعدة في حفظ وحماية وإعادة تأهيل النظم البيئية للأراضي الرطبة المتبقية في جميع أنحاء العالم. وفقنا الله وبارك لنا بوفرة في جهودنا لتحافظ على واستعادة بيئتنا(آمين).

 

ترجمة 

سمرطه

أخصائية في مجال البيئة  قامت بدراسات أثر بيئية لعدة مشاريع مختلفة في الأردن، حاصلة على درجتي الماجيستير في التقييم والمراقبة البيئية والعلوم البيئة وإدارتھا وبكالوريوس في إدارة المياه والبيئة.

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