Qatar’s quest for a greener future
November 12 2016 11:45 PM
By Meshal al-Shamari
By Meshal al-Shamari Doha

By Meshal al-Shamari/Doha

Qatar has made tremendous progress in advancing its environmental aims in recent years. Second only to the United Arab Emirates in driving sustainability within the built environment in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region, Qatar is well on its way to becoming the leading sustainability hub in the region.   
Qatar National Vision (QNV) 2030 – the country’s roadmap for the future – outlines a number of strategies formulated to advance the country’s sustainability agenda in line with global environmental demands. Through QNV 2030’s environmental pillar, Qatar has made sustainability a national priority, and has sought to ensure that all stakeholders actively contribute to securing a greener future.
In light of these achievements, Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC), a member of Qatar Foundation for Education, Science and Community Development, has launched a new national initiative, the Qatar Sustainability Week, to showcase the widespread sustainability programmes being undertaken in both the public and private sectors. The inaugural event marks a key milestone for Qatar, as it comes at a time when the country’s sustainability drive is beginning to bear fruit; introduction of mandatory green practices, greater nationwide sustainability awareness, and cross-sector co-operation top the national agenda. 
Starting today, the Qatar Sustainability Week 2016 will provide Qatar’s sustainability industry with the necessary support, co-ordination and expert advice to unite their efforts under an overarching umbrella, in an effort to achieve the nation’s sustainability goals. The week-long event aims to cultivate and embed a culture of sustainability among residents, encouraging members of society to do their part and play an active role in achieving the set objectives. 
As local stakeholders convene today in Doha to highlight their sustainability drives, world leaders and policymakers gather in Marrakesh, Morocco for the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Convention (COP 22). Last year, COP 21 saw the ratifying of the Paris Agreement – the most ambitious and actionable global response for tackling climate change yet. Therefore, taking stock of what nations have done to fulfil their pledges, ahead of the agreement’s implementation, will be an important element of the COP 22 agenda. 
However, COP 22 is also an opportune moment for the Mena region to showcase its commitment to achieving sustainability, and the summit’s host country has much to be proud of. Late last year, Morocco launched the first phase – Noor 1 – of what is set to become the world’s largest Concentrated Solar Power (CSP) complex when it is completed. In addition, in September this year, the Moroccan government announced its ambitious nationwide plan to retrofit 600 of its mosques with solar energy and LED lighting. This ‘green mosque’ initiative is bound to gain traction across the region in the coming months as an effort to help embed sustainability in people’s lifestyles. 
As COP 22 and Qatar Sustainability Week take place simultaneously, both events will highlight just how much the region has achieved to secure a sustainable future over the last decade or so.  While much work still lies ahead in establishing fully-fledged, environmentally conscious societies and implementing a regional sustainability strategy, these are milestones that are well within reach. Qatar Sustainability Week has a key role to play in advancing this mission.

* Meshal al-Shamari is Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) director.

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