Energy companies in the GCC (Gulf Cooperation Council) region in general and Qatar in particular actively participate in national environmental risk mitigation efforts, said HE Abdullah bin Hamad al-Attiyah, former Deputy Prime Minister.
Participating in the “Executive Dialogue” organised by the Pearl Initiative and UN Global Compact 2nd Regional Forum in Dubai at the weekend, al-Attiyah, also Qatar’s former Minister of Energy and Industry, cited several examples of national companies actively participating in and supporting strategies aimed at environmental risk mitigation.
He pointed out that Qatargas succeeded in reducing greenhouse gas emission from LNG loading by 76% since 2013.
Dolphin Energy has enhanced its “sustainability commitments” and has been recognised for its role in the development of the country’s first Sustainable Development Index Report.
The National Programme for Conservation and Energy Efficiency (Tarsheed) by Kahramaa succeeded in reducing the per capita electricity and water consumption by 14% and 17%, respectively until November 2015.
Also, the ongoing programme made an “effective saving” of about QR800mn until 2015, reducing carbon dioxide emissions and gas consumption.
On the role of energy companies in the GCC region in promoting sustainability efforts, al-Attiyah said, “In fact, they are playing a lead role in advancing sustainability development efforts.”
Investments have been made in various research and development activities to advance technology transfer and “adaptation programmes” in GCC states. These, al-Attiyah noted, include the strategic partnership among QP, Shell and Qatar Science Technology Park in collaboration with Imperial College-London to establish Qatar Carbonates and Carbon Storage Research Centre (QCCSRC). This is a 10-year project with investment of $70mn to advance the understanding of carbonate reservoirs.
He pointed out that Qatargas has allocated more than QR7mn in student scholarships for various sustainable educational programmes.
Also, many of the energy companies provide on the job training opportunities for post graduate students who are qualified nationals of the GCC countries.
Al-Attiyah stressed the role of sustainability in improving the competitiveness of GCC energy companies. These companies can improve their competitiveness by using natural resources (wherever possible) to manufacture goods and provide services for energy projects. GCC-based energy companies can establish partnership with local manufacturers and suppliers to promote investment in sustainable energy projects, he said.
These companies should increase the participation of the local supply base in the design and commissioning of new alternative and renewable energy projects.
“Because sustainability is often viewed in a narrow sense, some companies may see commitment to sustainability as a drain on business resources. However, the broader view of sustainability embodied in the UN Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), which is the focus of this forum, opens a wide range of opportunities for energy companies,” al-Attiyah pointed out.
On private sector engagement with GCC governments in driving sustainable growth initiatives, al-Attiyah said, “The private sector must contribute to the preparation and implementation of the governments’ sustainable development agendas. It needs to form a solid partnership with the governments in the GCC region in order to put the private sector know-how at the disposal of government, in the implementation of sustainable development programmes. The private sector could participate in public-private-partnership (PPP) funds to create opportunities for sustainability entrepreneurship.”
Al-Attiyah noted the GCC governments can provide a “supportive environment” that will encourage the private sector to launch initiatives that foster long-term sustainable growth.
First, GCC governments should proactively disseminate information on their sustainable development initiatives. Second, they should establish clear and transparent frameworks to enable all business enterprises to participate in the local economies. Third, GCC governments need to provide incentives and develop a recognition system for rewarding innovative approaches to sustainable development initiatives.
Al-Attiyah, who successfully launched The Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development that aims at tackling energy sector challenges in the region, said the civil society could also play a key role in advancing sustainable development in partnership with the government and the business community.
The Abdullah Bin Hamad Al Attiyah Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development would be an excellent example in using its knowledge, expertise and analytical skills, to facilitate good collaboration between government, business, and civil society, he added.