Education for Sustainable Development: Key Challenges

The basic aim of 'Education for Sustainable Development' is to nurture an individual who is capable to solve environmental challenges facing the world and to promote the formation of a sustainable society. The first challenge is to have an ethos in schools that openly and enthusiastically supports the development of ESD (Education for Sustainable Development). This is partly down to the curriculum the school follows, but is mainly as a result of the interest and effort shown by senior management in promoting integration and whole school engagement; a critical element being teacher training. It is also down to the expectations … 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

Countries Driving Solar Surge in MENA

The countries of the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) are known for their abundance of fossil fuels, yet they also have another energy resource at their fingertips – solar power. Some countries such as Saudi Arabia, which have great solar resources, are transitioning to utility scale solar energy production.  This allows them to export more of their fossil fuel instead of using it to produce power domestically. However, the decision to switch to solar power isn’t just to preserve oil resources for export. The countries in the MENA region are also experiencing increased demand for electricity due to rising … Continue reading

Food Waste, Ramadan and the Middle East

With the holy month of Ramadan only a few days away, huge food wastage in the Middle East is again hogging limelight. It is a widely acccepted fact that almost half of the municipal solid waste stream in the Middle East is comprised of food wastes and associated matter. The increasing amount of food waste in the Middle East urgently demands a strong food waste management strategy to ensure its minimization and eco-friendly disposal.  Food Waste in Ramadan Middle East nations are acknowleded as being the world’s top food wasters, and during Ramadan the situation takes a turn for the worse. In 2012, the Dubai Municipality … Continue reading

How to Protect Green Spaces in the Middle East

One of the ecological benefits brought by green spaces is its capability to combat urban heat. The increasing urban heat is usually caused by the high number of heat reflective substances that are emerging in the cities. Green spaces such as gardens and parks can significantly reduce heat and promote natural cooling through an efficient ventilation and dynamic absorption. Some green spaces could even help prevent urban flooding, air pollution, and storm water run-off. So, how can we protect these beneficial green spaces in Middle East? Spread Awareness Dubai is expected to plant an estimated of 50 million flowers in … Continue reading

Green Building Sector in the UAE: Perspectives

The focus on sustainability is one of the biggest trends in the GCC’s building sector. This is underpinned by Dubai being ranked third in the list of global cities with the highest number of green certified buildings in the ‘Sustainability and Wellness in Dubai’ report by Core Savills with over 550 projects under LEED certification and the implementation of the Estidama framework in Abu Dhabi. Paving the Way In the UAE, the directives by the Federal and Local Government entities to establish a sustainable economy that advocates demand side-energy management, and water & energy use efficiency has encouraged real estate … Continue reading

Green Roofs in MENA – Prospects and Challenges

Green roofs are emerging technologies that can provide a wide range of benefits to communities interested in enhancement and protection of their environment. The major benefits of green roofs are reducing energy use as well as air pollution and greenhouse gas emissions, enhancing stormwater management and water quality, decreasing heat island effect by regulating temperature for the roof and the surrounding areas and providing aesthetic value and habitats for many species.   According to a 2013 MENA renewable energy status report, the Total Primary Energy Supply (TPES) in Middle East and North Africa has reached about 800 million tons of oil.  This … Continue reading

Construction Wastes Management in the UAE

Out of total solid wastes generated in the UAE, the construction and demolition wastes or (C&D wastes) account for 70% of the total weight of solid wastes. Dubai alone produces nearly 5,000 tonnes of construction and demolition waste every day, which is about 70% of the total solid waste generated every day. In Abu Dhabi, C&D wastes account for 71% of total wastes generated. It is expected that construction and development activities and associated C&D waste production will continue to rise in this region. Hence, if not managed appropriately, it is expected that dumping of C&D waste will become uncontrolled. … Continue reading

Dubai’s Journey Towards a Sustainable City

Only a decade ago, Dubai was considered one of the world’s worst polluters. The ecological footprint of this single city was huge, however, by 2050 it could be a sustainable city with the smallest ecological footprint of any city in the world. Why Sustainability Matters Over the last couple of decades, the need for a renewed focus on our global commitment has become obvious. We have started to see an unusually high rate of extreme weather events across the globe, events which many scientists are attributing to global warming. Time is running out to take decisive action on climate change. … Continue reading

Hazardous Wastes in UAE

The United Arab Emirates signed the Basel Convention* in November 1992 and established a legislation called ‘Regulation for Handling Hazardous Materials, Hazardous Wastes and Medical Waste (Law 24 of 1999)’. Article 12 of the law states ‘Transportation and disposal of locally produced hazardous waste through land borders, marine environment limit and air space shall be controlled in accordance with the rules, procedure and controls mentioned and specified in Basel Agreement and in coordination with Federal Environmental Agency’. UAE is not yet a signatory to Basel BAN amendments of Sep 1995 thus there is no mention of the Basel BAN amendments in … Continue reading

Freshwater Management Outlook for UAE

Per capita water consumption of freshwater in the United Arab Emirates is the highest in the world. Over the last several decades, the demand on municipal water supply has increased significantly in the UAE. This is mainly due to increase in population growth, economic development and changes in lifestyle of the people. Though water is used by many sectors such as manufacturing industries, agriculture and domestic purposes, residential  and commercial uses of water during the operational phase of the building is one of the biggest contributing factors that puts a strain on freshwater supply in the country. Desalination and Sustainability … Continue reading

Environmental Initiatives in Middle East – Challenges and Remedies

Environmental protection has become an increasingly important item on the social and economic policy agenda of Middle East nations. As I read last week’s piece titled “Environmental Impacts of Plastic Bags” I was struck by the succinct summary of the main problems with the ongoing use of plastic bags and how their effects can be felt in many ways, some widely publicized and others not. The article prompted a series of reflections upon other environmental initiatives emerging in the Middle East and North Africa, especially in Qatar and the United Arab Emirates. In this article, I wish to share my … Continue reading