On February 8, the Cabinet approved a Ministry of Environment and Climate Change proposal for all government agencies to take part in marking Qatar Environment Day 2024, set to take place today, under the theme “Our Earth Our Legacy,” a move that underscores the need to leverage modern technologies to battle climate change, support clean energy, optimise water use, improve air quality, and boost greenery in an arid region inflicted with geographical variables and climate shifts.
Not only is the move consistent with the Qatar National Vision 2030’s fourth pillar that addresses the globally-growing ecological challenges but it brings to the fore Qatar’s multiple initiatives to preserve the environment. These initiatives covered areas of agriculture, water, clean energy, pollution, gas efficiency and recycling waste to reach a better human development and sustainability.
Doha started marking the Qatar Environment Day in 1996 after ratifying the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). In September 2021, the Cabinet approved the National Climate Change Plan — a strategic framework that reflects the country’s long-term sustainability ambitions and the urgent for an effective climate crisis response, a month before launching Qatar National Environment and Climate Change Strategy, aiming to protecting the Qatari environment to ensure a better quality of life and long-standing economic resilience.
Qatar was one of the first signatories to the 2015 Paris Agreement, and it was part of the international efforts to make it a success. At the UN Climate Action Summit in New York in September 2019, His Highness the Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad al-Thani said that Qatar has assumed its responsibility as an active partner in the international community to confront the climate change phenomenon.
In 2012, it hosted the 18th Session of the Conference of States Parties to the UN Framework Convention on Climate Change and the Doha Carbon and Energy Forum, in which international experts participated to develop public policy recommendations for this sector and for governments on climate change and alternative energy, and carbon capture and storage.
Qatar has also spared no effort to ensure the success of negotiations of the Paris Climate Agreement in 2015.
His Highness the Amir also announced Qatar’s contribution of $100mn for the support of small developing island states and the least developed states to deal with the climate change, natural hazards, environmental challenges and to build the capacity to counter their destructive effects.
In March 2023, Doha hosted the Fifth UN Conference on the Least Developed Countries, an even that discussed strategies to confront climate change and preserve the environment. In the opening speech, His Highness the Amir said that, based on Qatar’s firm commitment to supporting the development process of the least developed countries, His Highness announced a financial contribution of $60mn, of which $10mn will be allocated for supporting the implementation of the Doha Programme of Action activities for the least developed countries.
In line with the country’s endeavours to preserve the environment, the Ministry of Municipality announced a tenfold jump in the number of gardens, parks and greenery in 2023 across Qatar — the public parks surged to 143 from 56 in 2010, a 164% increase, the per capita green space share saw a 16-fold gallop to reach 16.5sq m in 2023 from only 1sq m in 2010. The number of farms and agricultural products multiplied several times thanks to leveraging agricultural technology and plant research which seek the highest levels of sustainability and the elevation of Ministry of Municipality’s “Plant Million Trees” initiative to 10mn trees by 2030.
This year’s Qatar Environment Day coincides with the Expo Doha 2023 currently being held amongst Al Bidda Park’s beautiful sweeping lawns and beds bursting with flowers under the slogan “Green Desert.. A Better Environment.” The event that runs through end of March, 2024 brings together participants from 80 countries and is expected to bring 3mn visitors.
Expo 2023 Doha is held under the theme “Green Desert, Better Environment” and aims to promote sustainable innovations and combat desertification. It will inspire visitors to participate in the transformation within four main topics: Modern Agriculture, Technology and Innovation, Environmental Awareness, Sustainability.
This year’s Qatar Environment Day also coincides with the 11th Qatar’s International Agricultural Exhibition (AgriteQ) from Feb 21-27, 2024, at the Expo Doha 2023, with the participation of 249 institutions, including 149 local companies, 100 international companies, and 106 local farms. The event aims to highlight modern innovations in agricultural and environmental technologies, and develop a roadmap that achieves long-term food security and development.
To enhance environmental activity and protect wildlife and marine life in Qatar, the relevant ministries and institutions have established the Brouq Nature Reserve, Al Thakhira Mangrove Forest, Jazirat Bin Ghannam and the Oxygen Park. Key tourist attractions, these reserves reintroduce Arabian oryx and species of birds, fish, trees and plants for further wildlife preservation.
In July 2021, Qatar launched the Umm Al Houl Power (UHP) as the largest power generation and seawater desalination plant in Qatar and the Middle East, with the aim of energising Qatar’s growth, minimising pollution and protecting the environment.
On Oct 18, 2022, His Highness the Amir inaugurated the Al Kharsaah Solar Power Plant on an area of over 10sq km. Capitalising on 1.8mn bifacial solar modules, the power plant can supply 10% of the country’s peak energy consumption and help to avoid 26mn tonnes of carbon emissions over its operational life.
Qatar staged the first-ever carbon-neutral FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022 during which Doha employed solar-powered energy and energy-efficient cooling systems in sustainable stadiums to honour one of the country’s key pledges to confront climate challenges and preserve ecology.
The country has also established a number of environmentally friendly cities, such as Lusail City and Msheireb Real Estate, where green technology and urban design are merged, and also established a metro network. Qatar, as a key LNG exporter, strived to leverage compressed natural gas as fuel in the transportation sector to reduce greenhouse gas emissions. The country also applied technologies that led to a 25% reduction in greenhouse gas emissions compared to similar facilities through substantial reduction of fuel gas consumption by capturing and re-injecting CO2 extracted from the feed gas.
With UN having estimated that developing countries will need up to $387bn annually to adapt to climate change, the Qatar Environment Day lays the foundations for further international efforts through local innovations to boost horticulture and combat desertification and drought.