Storm Alexa – Positive Aspects for MENA

The year 2013 saw history being made when Storm Alexa swept across the Middle East and North Africa bringing blizzards, torrential rain and icy winds to a region that hasn’t experienced such a storm in over 100 years. Storm Alexa caused devastating floods in Arab cities, such as Gaza, and power cuts in certain areas of Jordan. Heavy snowfall in Jordan covered the streets, hindering mobility and forcing people into their homes for several days. The storm has also brought hardship and misery upon the Syrian refugees enduring the bitter cold in fragile tents and makeshift shelters. Positive Aspects However, … Continue reading

Water Scarcity in MENA

The MENA region is the most water scarce region of the world. The region is home to 6.3 percent of world’s population but has access to measly 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water. The average water availability per person in other geographical regions is about 7,000 m3/year, whereas water availability is merely 1,200 m3/person/year in the MENA region. The region has the highest per capita rates of freshwater extraction in the world (804 m3/year) and currently exploits over 75 percent of its renewable water resources. Due to burgeoning population and rapid economic growth, the per capita water availability … Continue reading

All You Need to Know About Ocean Acidification and its Impacts

The relentless rise in the percentage of atmospheric carbon dioxide since the Industrial Revolution is a well-known fact. Carbon dioxide is considered as one of the key players among the greenhouse gases that has contributed the most towards global warming, the current hot topic among environmentalists, scientists and even politicians. Another key issue is increasing being discussed nowadays is Ocean Acidification. Ocean acidification is an ongoing change in the chemistry of the ocean caused primarily by the ocean’s absorption of carbon dioxide from the atmosphere. What is Ocean Acidification Around 1/4th of the carbon dioxide released into the atmosphere via … Continue reading

EcoMENA – Vision and Mission

The MENA region is plagued by a host of issues including water scarcity, waste disposal, food security, industrial pollution and desertification. Providing free access to quality information and knowledge-based resources motivates youngsters in a big way. EcoMENA provides encouragement to masses in tackling major environmental challenges by empowering them with knowledge and by providing them a solid platform to share their views with the outside world. Salman Zafar, Founder of EcoMENA, talks to the Florentine Association of International Relations (FAIR) about the vision, aims, objectives and rationale behind the creation of EcoMENA.  FAIR: What is EcoMENA and what is its primary … Continue reading

How Agricultural Sector Can Help the Renewable Energy Sector?

The continuous rise in fossil energy prices, combined with climate change concerns and progress in renewable energy sector, has catalyzed interest in clean energy systems across the MENA region, especially in the Mediterranean. The Mediterranean region has abundant renewable resources, such as wind, solar, and biomass, which makes it a fertile zone for renewable energy developments. The agricultural sector has played a key role in the progress of renewable energy sector around the world as it provides large areas where renewable energy projects are built and is also the predominant feedstock source for biomass energy projects. For example, agricultural sector … 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

Why Cities in the Middle East Need More Trees?

In 2016, The Nature Conservancy, one of the largest environmental NGOs in the United States, released a report entitled “Planting Healthy Air” that examines the role planting trees in urban areas plays in reducing pollution and extreme heat. As the report indicates, the population of city dwellers globally is increasing, as is the number of deaths associated with exposure to pollution and intense heat waves. The authors of the report argue that urban forestation projects are one of the most cost effective means to reduce particulate matter in the air and cool temperatures in the world’s largest cities. Urban forestation … Continue reading

Everything You Need to Know About Jatropha

Jatropha is a genus of nearly 175 species of shrubs, low-growing plants, and trees.  However, discussions of Jatropha as a biodiesel feedstock are actually means a particular species of the plant, Jatropha curcas. The plant is indigenous to parts of Central America, however it has spread to other tropical and subtropical regions in Africa and Asia. What is Jatropha? Jatropha curcas is a perennial shrub that, on average, grows approximately three to five meters in height. It has smooth grey bark with large and pale green leaves. The plant produces flowers and fruits are produced in winter or throughout the … Continue reading

Managing Water-Energy Nexus For Better Tomorrow

Water is an essential part of human existence, green source of energy production and input for thermal power generation. The world’s 7 billion people are dependent on just 3% (called freshwater) of the total volume of water on earth. The MENA region is home to 6.3 percent of world’s population but has access to measly 1.4 percent of the world’s renewable fresh water. Due to burgeoning population and rapid economic growth, the per capita water availability is expected to reduce to alarming proportions in the coming decades. The demand for water is expected to increase significantly in future, which is also … Continue reading

Towards New Partnerships in Water Management

Market-exchange economy and territory-bound nation state were not designed to accommodate a communication revolution that can envelop the globe and connect everyone and everything on the planet simultaneously. The result is that we are witnessing the birth of a new economic system and new governing institutions that are as different from market capitalism and the modern territorial state as the latter were from the feudal economy and dynastic rule of an era ago. Markets, in effect, are linear, discrete and discontinuous modes of operation. The new communications technologies and partnerships, by contrast, are cybernetic, not linear. The operational assumptions that … Continue reading

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

Can Diamond Production Have An Ethical, Environmentally Sound Future?

Diamonds continue to capture the imaginations of people the world over, and the MENA in particular has a storied relationship with the precious stone. Indeed, OEC statistics show that Dubai ranks highest out of many MENA countries importing high levels of diamonds, with imports generating a net spend of US$10.2bn. Diamonds do, of course, have an ethically and morally dubious past. Whether due to the conflicts they have help to generate, or through their huge environmental impact, they remain a luxury both for their qualities and for their impacts. Whether they have a place in the modern socially and environmentally conscious world … Continue reading