The Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences in the College of Arts and Sciences at Qatar University (QU), in collaboration with the Expo 2023 Doha team, hosted the 16th QU Life Sciences Symposium (QULSS 2023) under the theme 'Eco-Friendly Sustainable Solutions for a Green Desert Environment'.
The two-day symposium aimed to achieve three main goals, namely providing a platform for researchers and scientists to meet and exchange scientific and technological developments to ensure a sustainable environment, as well as providing researchers and scientists a platform to talk about scientific and technological developments to produce safe and sustainable food and raise awareness about environmental challenges and possible solutions to protect natural resources and promote sustainable development.
The symposium brought together experts and researchers from prestigious universities, industry, and local partners from various entities and specialisations with diverse experience in multiple fields. The most important of which are modern technological methods for using, purifying, and reusing water for agricultural purposes, modern methods for soil fertilization, and how to benefit from desert environmental resources to find sustainable solutions that serve modern agriculture as well as the ecosystem through the cultivation of wild plants and desert afforestation.
A number of researchers and scientists from the GCC, as well as from Qatar representing QU, the Ministry of Municipality and Environment, and Public Works Authority (Ashghal), and who are specialised in these fields, attended the symposium.
In addition, the symposium held two workshops for students, one on environmental water quality and another on food systems in agricultural and food education, presented by a team from Ashghal and the American University of Beirut respectively. Students of various graduate and post-graduate degrees participated in the conference by displaying their research projects through posters related to the four themes of the forum: advanced technologies for the optimal use of water resources, restoration and enrichment of desert soil, rehabilitation of the national vegetation cover for a sustainable environment, and uses of microbes isolated from halophytic plants in modern agriculture.
Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences Dr Fatima al-Kubaisi, spoke at the opening ceremony of the symposium and discussed modern and sustainable technologies in the fields of agriculture and breeding, and their importance in the State of Qatar. Recently, the country has witnessed remarkable progress in sustainable agriculture and food security, which enhanced sustainable local food production and had a clear positive impact for its residents.
She noted that the symposium is consistent with the Qatar National Vision 2030 in achieving environmental sustainability, exploring the natural resources of Qatar, and treating its imbalances through developing environmentally friendly and more efficient programs for agriculture and breeding within the state, which confirms the need for sustainable social and economic growth while preserving the environment for future generations.
For her part, Head of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at QU Dr Fatima al-Khayat noted that the chosen theme for the conference, was intended to keep pace with the great progress that has occurred in the State of Qatar in the past five years in multiple fields: Agriculture, improving production, reducing reliance on chemical pest control and replacing it with biological control, with the aim of achieving environmental sustainability concepts and providing the required food security.
She also said the environment in Qatar is very rich in the unique characteristics of its vital resources due to its distinctive genetic capabilities in resisting environmental stresses such as heat, drought and salinity, which makes these resources a national wealth that must be preserved and protected for future generations.
In the same context, Professor Dr Mohamed Abu-Dieyeh, Professor of Plant Science in QUs Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences and Chairman of the Organizing Committee for QULSS 2023, noted that despite the harshness of desert ecosystems, these ecosystems are rich in environmental resources, which if properly exploited and evaluated in extensive scientific research, have multiple technological applications that serve both the environment and humans. In addition to its importance in agriculture and the environment, saline soil represents a huge reservoir of beneficial microbes that will play a major role in modern sustainable agriculture.
In turn, Secretary-General of Expo 2023 Doha Mohammed Ali al-Khoori also noting that facilitating dialogue among diverse speakers and participants at this global gathering was a source of pride. The symposium centers around four pillars that cover environmental, social, economic, and cultural aspects. The interconnectedness between Expo 2023 Doha and the symposium is rooted in promoting collaborative discussions, innovative solutions, and strategic partnerships to propel sustainability goals globally. He noted that the shared objective is to catalyze positive change, leaving an enduring impact on our planet and shaping a sustainable legacy for future generations. (QNA)
Dr Fatima al-Khayat, Head of the Department of Biological and Environmental Sciences at QU.