World Environment Day 2016: Focus on Illegal Wildlife Trade

World Environment Day, also known as WED, is commemorated annually on 5th June and is one of the principal vehicles through which the United Nations stimulates worldwide awareness on the environment and promotes suitable actions. WED’s agenda is to empower people to become active agents of sustainable and equitable development, promote an understanding that communities are pivotal to changing attitudes towards environmental issues, advocate partnership which will ensure all nations and peoples enjoy a safer and more prosperous future. The theme of World Environment Day 2016 is “Fight against the Illegal Trade in Wildlife” or Zero Tolerance for Illegal Wildlife Trade, … Continue reading

Food Waste Woes in Qatar

Food waste is a huge issue in Qatar. In 2012, a massive 1.4 million metric tonnes of food was consumed and wasted in Qatar. This figure, divided by the then population of 2.05 million, equates to an average of 636 kilograms (kg) of food per person for the year, or 1.74 kg per day. Given the benchmark of two kg per person per day (preferably nutritious fare that does not contain too many kilojoules), that does not sound too excessive. But if you remove the young, elderly, short-term visitors/workers and people who consume less than two kg per day from the … Continue reading

Water Pollution Worries in Developing World

Water pollution has become a major concern worldwide, especially in developing countries where around 3.2 million children die each year as a result of unsafe drinking water and poor sanitation. Access to adequate wastewater treatment facilities in the developing countries is very limited. For example, only 209 of India’s 3,119 towns and cities—less than one in ten—have even partial sewage systems and treatment facilities. As a result water bodies in developing nations are often used as open sewers for human waste products and garbage, which is evident at the Ganges River in India which receives over 1.3 billion liters of domestic waste, … Continue reading

Trends in Sustainable Housing

There has been large-scale proliferation in construction of buildings worldwide due to population growth, economic development, urbanization and migration. According to UN Habitat, there has been a migration of the world’s population from rural areas to cities or smaller urban areas. In fact, this trend is expected to continue and cities within the developed as well as developing nations are expected to grow in terms of population. As a result all forms of construction activities are expected to become more intense than ever in the years to come. Usually the development of urban areas suffers from weak process of planning … Continue reading

Energy and the Climate: Perspectives for Middle East

Since energy is an absolute necessity for life on Earth, we have utilized many sources of energy to maintain and improve the lives of people around the globe. The ultimate source of energy is the Sun of course, since all living things on Earth such as plants, trees, animals and humans need the Sun’s energy. In addition to the Sun, we have utilized other sources of energy such as oil, coal and nuclear fission.  However, energy has many different forms and we use different forms of energy for different applications. For example, nuclear energy is mostly used to generate electricity, … Continue reading

Merits of Anaerobic Digestion of Wastes

Anaerobic digestion is the natural biological process which stabilizes organic waste in the absence of air and transforms it into biofertilizer and biogas. It is a reliable technology for the treatment of wet, organic waste.  Organic waste from various sources is biochemically degraded in highly controlled, oxygen-free conditions circumstances resulting in the production of biogas which can be used to produce both electricity and heat. Almost any organic material can be processed with anaerobic digestion. Anaerobic digestion is particularly suited to wet organic material and is commonly used for effluent and sewage treatment.  This includes biodegradable waste materials such as … Continue reading

Rethinking Sustainability: Islamic Perspectives

The 21st century is characterized by a number of global environmental challenges that shaped and defined the discourse and agenda of the West with respect to the developing world, specifically the Islamic world. Islam provides new sustainability perspectives for discovering and explaining the root causes for the current environmental, economic and social crises as manifested in climate change, HIV, poverty and human security. For example, the Islamic perspective on climate change is that the root cause of this global issue is the absence or lack of human stewardship and is an indication of market failures. Pitfalls of the Western Model … Continue reading

Recycling of Plastics

  Disposal of plastic waste has emerged as an important environmental challenge in the Middle East where plastics make up as much as one-tenth of the solid waste stream. In affluent GCC nations, plastic waste composition in municipal solid waste is around 12 – 16 percent. Plastic waste in the region is continuously increasing due to increasing use of plastics in daily life. The Middle East is responsible for about 8 percent of the global plastic production. Plastic waste is a source of greenhouse gas emissions and ecological damage. Majority of the items found on beaches across the region contain … 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

A Glance at Plastics Recycling

Plastic consumption has grown at a tremendous rate worldwide, and Middle East is no exception. Plastics now play an increasingly important role in all aspects of modern life. and used in the manufacture of all sorts of items including protective packaging, mobile phones, domestic appliances, furniture items, medical devices etc. Each year around 1trillon plastic bags are used worldwide with most of them ending up in landfills, dumpsites and water bodies. Due to the rising demand, the global plastic consumption is expected to reach 300 million tons by 2015. Per capita consumption of plastics in the GCC is estimated to be 33kg per annum … Continue reading

Combating Desertification in MENA

Desertification is a worldwide phenomenon afflicting countries all over the world. The desert is making a comeback in the Middle East, with fertile lands turning into barren wastes. According to United Nation’s Development Program’s 2009 Arab Human Development Report, desertification is threatening around one-fifth of the MENA region. China is experiencing desertification at an alarming rate – as much as 1,300 square miles each year. Sub-Saharan Africa is drying up, as are regions of Turkey that were once rich agricultural lands. During the 1992 Rio Earth Summit, the world’s leaders adopted the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification (UNCCD) and agreed on the desertification definition … Continue reading