Stress on joint GCC effort to achieve green goals

SALALAH: Environment experts from the Gulf Cooperation Council and the United Nations Environment Programme discussed how to make environment reports based on which the governments can take action and make policies accordingly.

The experts gathered at Rotana Salalah Resort for a workshop organised by the UNEP Regional Office for West Asia (UNEP/ROWA) and Secretariat General of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC).

The two-day event opened under the auspices of Sheikh Muhanna bin Salim al Lamki, Deputy Governor of Dhofar amid the presence of Najeeb bin Ali al Rawas, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs; Dr Adel al-Bastaki, Director of Environment at the General Secretariat of the GCC and Tarek al Khuri, an official of the UNEP/ROWA. Some senior government officials and national and international environment experts also took part in the workshop.

Dr Ahmed Abdullah al Sayari, Director General of Environment and Climate Affairs, Dhofar Governorate, gave an outline of the event in his opening speech and called the meeting “very important in terms of knowledge sharing, policy making, and follow up of ongoing programmes.”

“The Sultanate has given great attention to the protection of both human and the environment from pollution. Protecting the environment and nature from degradation and depletion is top on the government’s agenda as we also give due priority to wildlife protection and preservation of environment. We are committed to implement the best practices in order to ensure the rights of the generations to benefit from diverse natural resources in a balanced and equitable manner… we aspire to create a pollution-free environment for the present and future generations,” he said.

He cited some challenges being faced by the GCC countries and called for attention from all the stakeholders. “GCC countries face water scarcity, land degradation, degradation of vegetation and tree cover, air pollution, marine pollution, degradation of coastal environments, and waste management.”

Additionally, there are challenges being posed by climate change, which is a local, regional and international issue. Population growth and development in various areas are also causing pressure on natural resources along with increased emissions and generation of all kinds of waste, he said and called for cooperation from all quarters.

Dr Adel Bastaki of the General Secretariat of the GCC said that the idea of the workshop was to support of the GCC Ministerial Council (Foreign Ministers) and the ministers responsible for environment affairs in achieving the goals of the Gulf Green Initiative for Environment and Sustainable Development. He cited some green initiatives in this direction.

Tarek al Khury said the workshop would give direction to prepare the Environment Outlook Report for the Gulf Cooperation Council states. “Through our first workshop, which is part of the second phase of the project, we will undertake a desk study to review and analyse reports in each of the GCC countries,” he said.