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For a greener, healthier transition

Oman has unveiled its National Spatial Strategy, an enabler to achieve the ambitious Oman Vision 2040, for achieving urban growth while maintaining a balance between social, economic, and environmental developments

No country has ever prospered without urbanising. With the urbanisation undergoing further transformation worldwide, affordable housing and eco-friendly living has taken the centre stage in the quest for a safe future.

According to UN-Habitat’s World Cities Report, since 2007, more than half of the world’s population has lived in cities or urban centres. By 2030, estimates show that cities will be home to 60 per cent of the global population, a share that will further increase to about 68.4 per cent by 2050.

The estimate is that between 2.5 and 3 billion people will be added to the urban population worldwide, with the highest growth projected to be in less developed regions like East Asia, South Asia, and sub-Saharan Africa.

At the same time, cities account for 70 per cent of global waste and consume almost 80 per cent of the world’s energy. Reports indicate that building construction consumes 40 per cent of the world’s energy and is responsible for around one-third of all greenhouse gas emissions.

In fact, 91 per cent of the world's population currently lives in places where air quality levels exceed the World Health Organisation's limits.

In a report, the World Economic Forum points out, “Our cities are growing rapidly in terms of inhabitants and the space they occupy. Every minute, we add 10,000 square metres of city space. Every five days, we build a new Paris.”

While this rapid urbanisation has been the catalyst for innovative solutions in many areas, one key factor that needs more attention is environmentally sustainable housing.

Environmental sustainability in housing, as experts point out, revolves around principles such as energy efficiency, water conservation, waste management, and the use of eco-friendly materials. This will help contribute to a healthier ecosystem and mitigate the impact of climate change.

The Sultanate of Oman is among the countries that signed its commitment to apply its principles in all national plans and strategies that call for ensuring universal access to safe and affordable basic housing and services, sustainable transport systems, and green and public spaces for all.

In this direction, Oman has already unveiled its National Spatial Strategy, an enabler to achieve the ambitious Oman Vision 2040 for achieving urban growth while maintaining a balance between social, economic, and environmental developments.

The strategy envisions smart, sustainable, and vibrant cities, a vital countryside with a viable architecture that ensures high quality of life, work, and leisure, and a diversified and easily accessible means of transport, integrated with sound and targeted urban planning and sustainable world-class infrastructure. It also ensures that individuals and families have access to safe, decent, and affordable homes, thereby improving their overall quality of life.

Significantly, the Omani government has been at the forefront of addressing various issues concerning the housing and housing finance sectors through segmentation of the market and promoting appropriate products for specific segments.

The Central Bank of Oman and the Environment Authority signed a cooperation programme in September 2023 to encourage green initiatives through the banking sector.

This programme aims to enhance and encourage green initiatives through the banking sector. It also aims at identifying areas of joint cooperation from which the need for cooperation, coordination, and exchange of experiences emerges in implementing the green initiatives.

After all, environmental sustainability is essential for mitigating climate change, conserving resources, and preserving the planet for future generations.

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