AGU Professor Participates in Panel Discussion on Integrated Waste Management and Urban Sustainability at COP28 in Dubai

The Arabian Gulf University (AGU) organised a panel discussion on “Integrated Waste Management and Urban Sustainability” at COP28, Expo City Dubai, in cooperation with the General Secretariat of the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC). Dr Sumaya Yusuf Hasan Abbas, Assistant Professor of Environmental Engineering and Sustainability, participated as an organiser, coordinator and moderator of the panel entitled “Integrated Waste Management and Urban Sustainability in GCC Countries”.

Dr Abbas also presented an introductory working paper entitled “An Overview of Waste Management in GCC Countries: Opportunities and Challenges”, which was attended by His Excellency Dr Mohammed bin Mubarak Bin Daina, Minister of Oil and Environment of Bahrain, a number of officials in related fields and interested parties from GCC and Arab countries participating in COP. She reviewed the current statistics related to waste management in GCC countries and discussed its most prominent challenges, in addition to means to overcome these obstacles and turn them into sustainable opportunities that attract investment.

The panel discussed the best sustainable options for integrated solid waste management according to its components, and the best economically, socially and environmentally feasible technologies. The experiences of GCC countries were reviewed with participation of representatives from government sectors and relevant ministries of each country. Success stories from the private sector were also reviewed with the participation of company representatives, namely Alarfaj Holding Company from the State of Kuwait and ACWA Power from the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

Furthermore, the discussion touched on the application of an integrated solid waste management methodology, which begins with policies of prevention and source reduction as a priority, the reuse, recycling and conversion of waste into energy using different technologies, and safe and sustainable disposal. Solutions were proposed to overcome the most prominent challenges, including the development of national strategies for sustainable waste management, with emphasis on the importance of governance and legislative framework to support the sustainability of the sector. This begins with a policy for source separation of waste, providing incentives and imposing penalties on violators, moreover raising awareness and building working capacities in the field through education and training.

The panel ended with an open discussion which called for the development of recommendations approved by the GCC General Secretariat. These consisted of the development of a unified strategy for waste management, the formation of a working group to coordinate joint action among GCC countries, besides strengthening cooperation with AGU, as the academic and scientific arm of the General Secretariat in various related fields, specifically waste management, and its endorsement as an accredited centre for education, scientific research and training, capacity building and qualification of cadres towards a sustainable society in the Gulf.

Dr Abbas also called for the establishment of a GCC association for waste and resource management, under whose membership stakeholders from all sectors including specialists and professionals in the field, entrepreneurs, and interested parties, will jointly create a platform for information, expertise and communication which supports sustainable waste management in the GCC.

In the same context, the recommendations called for the launch of awareness and educational initiatives, including the adoption of a unified environmental citizenship curriculum introduced to all school grades, starting from pre-school. In addition to the proposition of a GCC academy for children and youth established to foster sustainable lifestyles, encouraging innovation and the shift to sustainable behaviour and consumption while raising a conscious generation. The importance of international, regional and Gulf cooperation was stressed, as well as the establishment of partnerships between all sectors towards a sustainable Gulf society.

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