Power of Cities to Shape a Greener Future

The current rate of urbanization is one of the global megatrends, which will manifest itself in many of the challenges faced in the upcoming decades. UN reports estimate that nearly 70% of the world’s population will be urban by 2050. The way in which cities deal with this rapid rate of urbanization will determine whether international objectives such as Sustainable Development Goal 11, aimed at making cities and human settlements inclusive, safe, resilient, and sustainable, will be achieved. Urbanization has further impacts on many more of the goals defined in the UN 2030 Agenda on Sustainable Development. Achieving these goals … Continue reading

Environmental Outlook for the Arab Region

The overall environmental outlook in the Arab region is bleak, despite progress on some fronts, according to the latest report of the Arab Forum for Environment and Development (AFED). Entitled Arab Environment in 10 Years, the report crowns a decade of annual reports on the state of the environment in the Arab world. The AFED reports have become major references for highlighting progress, identifying problems facing the Arab world, and recommending alternative solutions.  Key Issues at Stake Having an environmental organization focused solely on the Middle East is essential when considering the characteristics specific to the region. As outlined in … Continue reading

Water-Food Linkage in the Arab World

The water-food linkage represents an important and vital nexus in the Arab countries. Under the current unstable food security situation (fluctuating energy prices, poor harvests, rising demand from a growing population, the use of biofuels and export bans have all increased prices), the ability for the Arab countries to feed their growing population is severely challenged by competition over increasingly limited water resources. Agriculture is currently challenged by competition among sectors on available water resources. While the majority of water in the Arab region is used inefficiently in the agricultural sector (about 85% with less than 40% efficiency), which is … Continue reading

Women Entrepreneurship in MENA: An Analysis

Women entrepreneurship is an important unexploited source of economic growth in almost all parts of the world. Unfortunately women in MENA have the lowest rates of Total Entrepreneurial Activity (TEA) at merely 4% of the population. The highest rates, globally, are in sub-Saharan Africa, at 27%. Latin American and Caribbean economies also show high levels (15 percent). In just seven economies (Panama, Thailand, Ghana, Ecuador, Nigeria, Mexico, and Uganda), women had equal or slightly higher levels of entrepreneurship than men. For the rest, women represented a smaller share of the entrepreneur population. Current Situation The recent interest in women entrepreneurship in the Middle … Continue reading

The Green Girl of UAE

Kehkashan Basu is a 12 year old environmental and social activist from the United Arab Emirates whose sole objective is to involve and mobilize kids and youth in the movement for a sustainable and green future. Born on 5th June, which interestingly also happens to be the World Environment Day, she feels that it was pre-ordained that she should grow up to be an environmental activist. Spreading the message of peace and sustainability has been her passion since she her early childhood days. Needless to say, Kehkashan has been working tirelessly to motivate youngsters all over the world to care … Continue reading

Sustainable Development and the Arab World

Sustainable development is a pattern of growth in which resource use aims to meet human needs while preserving the environment so that these needs can be met not only in the present, but also for generations to come. Arab world is facing major sustainability challenges in achieving social, economic and environmental goals. Extremely arid climate, acute water scarcity, high energy consumption and polluting oil and gas industry present a unique challenge in Arab countries. There are four major dimensions of sustainable development – social, economic, environmental and institutional. Social Availability of energy has a direct impact on poverty, employment opportunities, education, demographic transition, indoor pollution and … Continue reading

Water-Energy-Food Nexus in Arab Countries

Addressing water scarcity, both natural and human-induced, in the Arab region is considered one of the major and most critical challenges facing the Arab countries. This challenge is expected to grow with time due to many pressing driving forces, including population growth, food demand, unsettled and politicized shared water resources, climate change, and many others, forcing more countries into more expensive water sources, such as desalination, to augment their limited freshwater supplies. The heavy financial, economic, environmental, as well as social costs and burden to be borne cannot be overemphasized. Furthermore, the water scarcity challenge in the Arab world is being … Continue reading

Energy Efficiency in Arab World: Key Findings of Arab Future Energy Index 2017

Energy efficiency is the most cost effective means of reducing the energy intensity of the economy and promoting a low-carbon future in the Arab world. Energy efficiency further helps Arab states meet their SDGs on combating climate change and its impacts (SDG13), as it cuts down on GHG emissions resulting from excessive and inefficient consumption of energy. Energy efficiency improvements can save governments, companies, and citizens billions of dollars in the Arab region from reduced energy bills, while at the same time quickly reducing carbon footprints – a win-win solution. Many countries in the region are now moving ahead with … Continue reading

Drilling Waste Management and Cement Industry

During the exploration and production of oil, huge amounts of drilling wastes are produced in the form of mud and cuttings.  As per conservative estimates, around 0.37 kg of drilling wastes is generated for every barrel of oil produced. The American Petroleum Institute (API) has estimated that approximately 1.21 barrels of total drilling wastes are generated for every foot drilled. The Middle East oil and gas industry has made a lot of effort in order to reduce the environmental impact of their activities; modern drilling methods such as horizontal drilling, navigating the drill bits three dimensionally through the earth, contacting … Continue reading

An Adaptive Refugee Camp Model for the Middle East

Natural disasters and wars are two main reasons that force populations to leave their homes, which consequently push for an urgent need to provide temporary shelters or settlements as a disaster management plan. For many years, governments and aid agencies have worked on offering emergency relief camps. Solutions have ranged from short term to long-term shelters. Tents are the most common shelter structure used. However, studies show that the majority of current tent shelters do not satisfy comfort conditions for occupants and hardly satisfy privacy, hygiene and other social needs. They are also expensive to fabricate and deteriorate quickly. Several … Continue reading

Climate Change Impacts on Public Health: Perspectives for Arab World

Climate change is not only affecting the economies of Arab world but also having detrimental impacts on the very fabric of society, through threats to public health and livelihoods. Climate change in the Arab world is also exacerbating social inequalities, hitting the rural poor the hardest. This is not a reason for complacency amongst the wealthy urban classes. Basic humanitarianism aside, history suggests that physical hardships can breed wider unrest: a body of evidence suggests that poor harvests caused by a major Icelandic volcanic ash cloud in 1783 triggered no less an event that the French Revolution. Extreme weather events … Continue reading

Waste Prevention in Middle East – Prospects and Challenges

The best way of dealing with waste, both economically and environmentally, is to avoid creating it in the first place. People and businesses that use resources wisely not only save money but also have much less impact on the environment. That is why waste prevention rightly occupies the top spot in the so-called “Waste Hierarchy” set out in EU and national waste legislation.  Waste prevention is about the way in which the products and services we all rely on are designed, made, bought and sold, used, consumed and disposed of. For example: Making products that are more durable, repairable, re-usable … Continue reading