Monday, May 26, 2008

Kuwait Received a U.S. Environmental Award

On May 24th, Kuwait received the award for "Protection of the Ozone Layer," by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) of the United States. This award is given annually to member countries of the Multilateral Fund for the Implementation of the Montreal Protocol. I wonder how much of a difference Kuwait has made in this effort, and what other countries it beat out for this award. They did mention in the article that Kuwait's National Ozone Committee an intergovernmental agency established in 1986, which I had never heard of prior to this story, was taking part in a workshop on alternatives to a chemical that is damaging to the ozone layer used in the production of dates. this committee was also recognized for successfully implementing an action plan to convert ODS (Ozone Depleting Substances) consumer sectors to ozone-friendly technologies.

According to the statistics in the article,
"the Ozone Depletion Potential or the relative amount of degradation to the ozone layer a chemical compound can cause, decreased from 4,068 in 1986 to 349 in 2002, a rate of 91 percent downfall of Kuwait’s ODS consumption." However, I quoted this because it was hard for me to make sense out of it for some reason.

Kuwait was recognized for its "unique" licencing controls and monitoring of ODS consumption in addition to its supporting awareness campaigns to ensure all stakeholders to effectively carry out their roles to fulfill Montreal Protocol obligations, although it did not elaborate what those campaigns were.
It went further to point out that Kuwait is planning to table a paper on alternative cooling systems. It also stated that Kuwait is one of the first countries to adopt strict controls on importing and licensing of ozone-depleting machines in cooperation with banks and customs. My question is, is this enough? Can Kuwait do much more?


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How Can Sustainability and Social Responsibility Contribute to the Future of the Middle East?

With their potential for economic growth and their financial wealth, Kuwait and the rest of the Gulf countries have the potential to become front runners in the Middle East in considering the environment and social responsibility, and I hope to help them to start that foundation.
The Middle East is a fascinating place with so much cultural richness and financial prosperity. People of the region are increasingly growing aware of the changing climate of business and of the world as a result of globalization and as such there is growing potential for development here. We can see already a substantial amount of growth and innovation in a very short period of time through the example of Dubai. Unfortunately, one area that still lacks a greater awareness is the environment and how it is being impacted by the current practices of companies and individuals. This problem affects all aspects of life from physical health to the natural beauty of the region. This problem however can also be viewed as a treasure box of opportunity for those who have vision and initiative and wish to consider sustainable concepts and how they can adopt them in their businesses.

I chose this cause because I love the Middle East. I am originally from Latin America and study in the University of Washington and I am studying abroad in Kuwait. I had so much success here and fell in love with the region so much that I was looking for a way I could give back to a place that had given me so much. I realized quickly that the region overall had great issues with regards to the environment. The beautiful beaches of the gulf were littered with garbage, there were little if any recycling programs, no awareness campaigns and lesson plans for the schools with regards to the environment, all of the landfills were unplanned and unlined and the waste seeping into the soil and polluting the storm water drains. Yet I could not understand how such a wealthy country with the financial means to take care of this issue and with a government committee assigned to the environment was allowing this to be this way. I decided I would try to see how I can help make a change for the better just as many countries have also done with regards to such issues as waste management such as the UK.