"What is a major environmental or sustainability issue in your area of the world, and how can you make a difference and help resolve that issue?"
The Middle East is well known in the world of owning the ultimate power of oil and gas revenues. Due to this, it has successfully built its economy, military, industries and various construction development to an advanced stage compared to other countries. Nevertheless, it has also attracted a chain of various environmental issues and the depletion of natural resources.
The GCC countries such as Oman, U.E.A, Saudi Arabia, Qatar & Kuwait almost face similar environmental challenges. The main ones include biodiversity loss, water pollution, desertification, and food wastage. Each issue is interlinked with each other, for instance desertification leads to agriculture and farming loss, water pollution increase biodiversity loss, and food wastage release harmful methane that directly affects the atmosphere and contributes to global warming.
According to a report by WWF on Ecological footprint, UEA stands as the highest carbon footprint per capita in the world. The reasons fall in the high burning of fossil fuels, high production of goods, and waste in addition to the high consumption of food per head.
As the world focus on development and construction so will be the rise of the earth’s temperature. The GCC countries seem to be the ones having the most impact. With the temperature increasing each day, the rise of sea levels can be seen in drowning up the coastal land in countries close to the sea areas. Dubai and Oman have gone through severe hurricanes and tsunami in the past due to the rise of climate change. The losing of coastline is gradually increasing, it presents a high risk to the people living near the sea area. Furthermore, change in the temperature of the water makes it difficult for the growth and germination of fishes outside its optimum range. For that reason, it has impacted the coastal fishing communities and aquaculture production as the majority of the people depend on fish for diet and market trading.
Underground salinity is one of the main concerns in the challenge, higher salinity makes water unsuitable for drinking and hence the scarcity of water has developed in many parts of the cities. This has directly impacted the farming land, as insufficient water with less rainfall makes it hard to grow local vegetables or fruits with the relation of the consumer's demand. Thus, the country has to spend more on importing food from other sources making it more expensive and difficult for the average person to afford. This is one of the main unsustainable practices displayed in the food supply chain industry, as importing more products from outside its border can increase food waste and increase the use of transportation during trading( energy waste).
Apart from the food chain industry, the problem still continues towards the individuals buying food products. It has been a culture in the Middle East to buy food in stocks or bulk amounts in which the majority ends up in the trash. Mainly the upper class of elite members in the society add up unsustainable practices of food waste. This has resulted in an increase in the release of harmful methane gas in the environment that contributes to global warming.
Saving the Planet
To make an impact and solve the current issue includes complicated planning and severe changes towards the approach of a sustainable food chain management system. From the moment it comes to the market to the consumer’s table. Being a little conscious of the things you buy can make a huge transformation in creating the environment free of pollution. Such as:
• Buying a minimum range of food you require instead of going for huge amounts.
• In special events such as a family or friends gathering, do not overcook food otherwise, hand out the leftovers back to the guest before they leave.
• Instead of throwing away organic food such as rotten vegetables or fruits, utilize it as a fertilizer in the soil.
• Find out charity food banks near your local area and hand them out the extra food you don’t need.
• Buy organic food over non-organic products.
• Start your own backyard garden at home.
In regard to the scarcity of water in the Middle East, proper management of water drainage and careful check of the leaks in the house is the key to saving up water. Research shows that an average home waste about 1,000 gallons of water from slow drips in pipes and faucets. The majority go unnoticed as they are out of view and silent. Inbuilt water pipes in walls need to be frequently checked at home, offices, or organizations. It is high time to conserve the limited water resources that will have an impact on the present and future years.
Climate change and global warming all started from the collective activities of individual actions likewise it will take the participation of every single individual towards mending up the environmental damages. Being aware and concern about the environment is the first step in making a change. It all starts from taking actions within your home, from saving up food waste, efficient use of water, turning off lights to save energy links a direct impact on the environment, and its use of resources. Remember we all have a responsibility in keeping the earth clean and healthy.
Thanks for reading!
Mohamed A. Raouf, -The Middle East Institute Policy Brief (2008)