Environmental preservation is a top priority for the State of Qatar. The Government recognizes it must balance the country's industrial growth and its limited resources. It also recognizes the environmental challenges posed by the hydrocarbon industry that drives the State's economy.
Qatar has already adopted some legislations to protect its natural resources and achieve sustainable development. However, the ambitious agenda for future environmental preservation, led by the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), will improve efforts both within the State of Qatar and across the region. The Government also recognizes the importance of Qatar as a pioneer in environmental stewardship.
Ministry of Municipality and Environment
MME has been established to promote environmental sustainability and to the coordinate Qatar's environmental initiatives. MME works closely with officials in a number of government entities to develop responsible environmental policy and is spearheading efforts to expand official records and banks of environmental data of the State. MME also plays an increasing role in expanding efforts to improve preservation and it include the following:
- Recruiting scientists and technical specialists to oversee monitoring systems and regulation.
- Establishing emergency preparedness committee charged with responding to environmental disasters.
- Launching a nationwide campaign to clean up Qatar's beaches.
- Coordinating and maintaining knowledge banks on environmental data.
- Creating and managing comprehensive biodiversity database including protected areas and marine resources and environmental impact.
Strategic partnerships between industries and the Government of the State of Qatar are of crucial importance to the environmental sustainability plans. Companies can be, on the one hand, a source of pollution and on the other, incubators of environmental innovations that can restore ecological balance.
Corporate supervisory bodies are required to submit regular reports detailing the environmental impact of their operations, while there are strict penalties imposed on companies that break the regulations established by MME. Moreover, it is preferable that these companies should provide practical proofs on the extent of their cooperation in this regard. For example, Qatar Petroleum's sponsorship of research into sea turtles is regarded as an illustrative example of the role that industry can play in enhancing environmental sustainability. The National Development Strategy calls for at least two public-private environmental projects to be implemented by 2016.
Qatar has already established some facilities with the aim of reducing the amount of waste and protecting the environment. These concrete initiatives include:
- Halul Island: New facilities are in use at the heart of the major storage and export terminal for Qatar's oil and gar industries. Facilities include an incinerator to destroy waste, sophisticated air pollution monitors, and a wastewater treatment plant. These initiatives will reduce waste on the Island and protect the home to animals such as gazelles and many migratory birds.
- Mesaieed: One of Qatar's major industrial cities is also becoming the hub for environmental initiatives. Mesaieed is home to the integrated domestic solid waste management center that comes online in 2011 and will handle treatment of garbage and sewage. The centre will be central to Qatar's plans to dramatically increase recycling capacity. The city will also host stations to monitor air and water pollution.
Addressing environmental issues is a cross-border exercise, particularly in the Middle East region. The environmental challenges facing Qatar are the common denominator between Qatar and many of its neighbors, and various countries in the world with varying degrees. The State of Qatar is also working with its neighbors via platforms such as the Gulf Green Initiative, and it is playing an increasing leading role in the region, since it has established the retinal air quality monitoring programme and a regional biodiversity database.
On the international stage, Qatar has forged partnerships with some international organizations, such as the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), the United Nations Environment Programme and the World Health Organization. These partnerships allow for sharing of knowledge, human resources, and technological innovations.
The Government of Qatar is a signatory to several international environmental treaties, notably:
- 1985 Vienna Treaty for the Protection of the Ozone Layer.
- 1987 Montreal Protocol on Ozone Depleting Substances.
- 1992 International Convention for Climate Change.
- 1994 Convention for Combating Desertification.
- 2005 Kyoto Protocol (ratified).
Qatar fulfills its international environmental responsibilities and sees an opportunity to become a global leader in the environmental sector. Initiatives are being implemented in Doha City, such as plans to address urban water tables, creating a biodiversity database, and the air quality monitoring programme. Thus, it is likely that the city will turn into a center for researches and innovations in the area of environmental protection in the world.