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

Dake Rechsand’s ‘Magic Sand’ Aims to End UAE’s Food and Water Deficit Within 5 Years

Addressing the UAE and larger MENA regions’ sustainability challenges of water conservation, green cover and food security, Dake Rechsands’ breakthrough sand technology can harvest and store rainwater to create a new water source for the region as well as transform deserts into lush tropical forests and organic farms. Dake Rechsand, a collaboration between South Africa’s Dake Group and the Rechsand Technology Group from Beijing, today announced the launch of their revolutionary ‘magic sand’ technology and its affiliated sand-made product range in the Middle East region. The joint venture is the result of their mission to take these innovative technologies to … Continue reading

Vanishing Aquifers in MENA

Aquifers are of tremendous importance for the MENA as world’s most water-stressed countries are located in the region, including Kuwait, Qatar, UAE, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Oman, Iran, Lebanon and Yemen. However, aquifers in MENA are coming under increasing strain and are in real danger of extinction. Eight aquifers systems, including those in MENA, are categorized as ‘over stressed’ aquifers with hardly any natural recharge to offset the water consumed. Aquifers in MENA Aquifers stretched beneath Saudi Arabia and Yemen ranks first among ‘overstressed’ aquifers followed by Indus Basin of northwestern India-Pakistan and then by Murzuk-Djado Basin in North Africa. The Nubian Sandstone Aquifer in … Continue reading

Desertec: What Went Wrong?

A plan to power Europe from solar power plants in Sahara desert, popularly known as Desertec, seems to have stalled, but several large North African solar projects are still going ahead despite local concerns. Where did the Desertec project go wrong, and can desert solar power yet play a role in a democratic and sustainable future? If you use social media, you may well have seen a graphic going around, showing a tiny square in the Sahara desert with the caption: ‘This much solar power in the Sahara would provide enough energy for the whole world!’ Can this really be true? It is … Continue reading

Biomass Energy in Middle East

The major biomass producing countries in the Middle East are Egypt, Yemen, Iraq, Syria and Jordan. Traditionally, biomass energy has been widely used in rural areas for domestic energy purposes in the Middle East region, especially in Egypt, Yemen and Jordan. Since most of the region is arid or semi-arid, the biomass energy potential is mainly contributed by municipal solid wastes, agricultural residues and industrial wastes. According to conservative estimates, the potential of biomass energy in the MENA region is about 400TWh per year. Municipal solid wastes represent the best source of biomass in Middle East countries. Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, … 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

#InspireMENA – Storytelling on Sustainable Development in MENA

Over 350 million people live in MENA and share Arabic as a common language. To date, there is very little literature in Arabic about sustainable development in general and specifically on the United Nation’s new global goals and the associated agencies and initiatives. More than half of that population is below 25 and is currently going through a lot in terms of political, economic, and social change. Despite all of this, those young people are innovating and making positive change in their communities. It is of utmost importance to support such impact with credible information, more visibility for success stories, … Continue reading

Introduction to Biorefinery

A biorefinery is a facility that integrates biomass conversion processes and equipment to produce fuels, power, and value-added chemicals from biomass. Biorefinery is analogous to today’s petroleum refinery, which produces multiple fuels and products from petroleum. By producing several products, a biorefinery takes advantage of the various components in biomass and their intermediates, therefore maximizing the value derived from the biomass feedstock. A biorefinery could, for example, produce one or several low-volume, but high-value, chemical products and a low-value, but high-volume liquid transportation fuel such as biodiesel or bioethanol. At the same time, it can generate electricity and process heat, … Continue reading