The United Nations (UN 2030) Seventeen Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) are considered a bless to humanity. These goals are diversified to address the different aspirations applied to all countries.
Decision makers, policy makers, board members and managers in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Region question the feasibility of Sustainable Development Goals in organizations (Zawya, 2020) (1). This article is composed of different parts; Introduction, overview on the Arab world and the MENA Region, Future earth, its initiatives and challenges ending with recommendations and mandates.
The MENA region has a one of the fastest growing populations with more than 400% growth in urban structure during 1970 to 2010 (PRB.org, 2020) (2). The population reached around 60 million early in the 20th century, and thus this rapid growth exacerbates the challenges faced within the region. In contrast, the MENA is rich in cultural and economic resources with a vast petroleum supply accounting for two-thirds of the world’s known oil reserves. Altogether are main reasons for the researchers and the whole world’s interest. Hence, the sustainability challenges are of particular relevance to the MENA region and its larger urban structures.
Moreover, individuals, organizations and countries are working towards a sustainable global future by developing a higher awareness and a deeper understanding of complex Earth challenges and human-related issues. Different initiatives are directed to the Earth’s major components as climate, develop strategies for global sustainable development as illustrated in the figure below.
Countries, governments, public authorities and private organizations should explicitly adopt the Sustainable Development Goals as a guiding framework for their setting up, planning, operating and budgetary procedures. To accelerate the implementation of the 2030 Agenda, they should devote special attention to managing resources and properly allocating them.
THE ARAB STATES & THE MENA REGION 2030 UNDER FOCUS
MENA is an acronym for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region (6), MENA is usually grouped together by international, economic, and academic organizations. The following countries are typically included in MENA region (7): Algeria, Bahrain, Djibouti, Egypt, Iran, Iraq, Israel, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Malta, Morocco, Oman, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates, Palestine, and Yemen. Ethiopia and Sudan are sometimes included.
In contrast, the Arab world consists of 22 Arab countries (Wingfield, 2002)(3). Those countries are Jordan, Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Mauritania, Algeria, Tunisia, Libya, Sudan, Somalia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Yemen, Oman, Qatar, Bahrain, Kuwait, the Comoros Islands, Iraq, Djibouti, and the United Arab Emirates.
The Arab world and the MENA region are facing a unique set of natural, operational, political, economic and social challenges that might hinder sustainability initiatives (EcoMENA,2020) (4). The vast developments paralleled with increased population in such countries have led to an increased consumption of natural, renewable and non-renewable resources.
The Middle East has abundant sources of renewable and effective energy sources and resources as the wind and solar energies. The region has high levels of sunshine (Broom, 2019), making solar a feasible and abundant solution. Hence, this can be source of clean and sustainable energy (8).
Such initiatives are congruent with the sustainable vision 2030 and the 2050 that are built on increased global energy efficiencies, developed renewable energy sources and improved living standards enjoyed by developed as well as developing countries.
One of the main challenges facing the Arab world is extreme poverty, which has been addressed by countries and organizations through creativity, improved public services and the creation of regional and global public good.
Sustainable Square (SS) is a micro-multinational firm that focuses on organizational sustainability, transparency and disclosure, environmental practices, responsible investment and social impact (Sustainable Square, 2020) (9). In 2018, SS launched a survey evaluating MENA region’s performance on Sustainability included 1500 organizations (of which 638 responded) from 16 sectors and 18 different countries across the MENA region, 31% of organizations reported having a holistic sustainability strategy (which addresses sustainability topics across the entire organization including its stakeholders), where 75% of organizations produce annual sustainability reports reflecting a holistic sustainability strategy. Majority of the responding organizations were implementing sustainability initiatives for Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) contribution and to maintain corporate image and perception (21%) and only (19%) the main driver was a sense of responsibility.
As per the SS report, around 16% of participating organizations reported education as the top focus area behind their sustainability initiatives. In contrast, 79% reported initiatives related to managing energy use and GHG emissions across operations.
The study found that, while the majority of participating organizations do not yet have a holistic sustainability strategy in place; there is a notable evolution towards more responsible and sustainable practices. However, the lack of thorough data regarding sustainability practices among organizations in the region has been identified as one of the key challenges preventing the progress of sustainability and Corporate Social Responsibility, which created a skewed perception of sustainability across the region.
According to Earth Economics (2020) (5), this science relates to the decision-making process at all levels, so communities can mitigate risk, increase resilience, and protect their natural capital wealth. In parallel, organizations should do Ecosystem assessment and valuation provides insight to inform and inspire sustainable decisions that improve outcomes for people, businesses, communities, and natural resources.
FUTURE EARTH INITIATIVES
The World Bank and United Nations bodies have declared in the 1990’s the importance of the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) to be followed in both developed and underdeveloped countries. The MENA region is not really an exception; however, each country followed a different path to match its needs and priorities.
The Business and Sustainable Development Commission (BSDC) of the World Bank reported that investment in the SDGs in this region will bring enormous opportunities and returns, along with massive efficiency, gains and impetus for innovation. The following are some initiatives to shed light on what has been happening and that might bring insight and guide future initiatives globally and regionally.
Estidama (11) (‘sustainability’ in Arabic) is the first organic sustainability framework in the Middle East that imposes green building code under the pearl rating system (Tunza Eco-generation, 2020)
The UAE, Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, and Qatar representing the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) are investing in several Renewable Energy Schemes and aiming to produce large amount of their power generation respectively from renewable energy sources by 2030 (Alnaser, W. & Alnaser, N., 2011). The Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (2006) (12) MASDAR CITY (‘Source’ in Arabic) in Abu Dhabi is expected to be the world’s most sustainable eco-city exemplifying how cities can accommodate rapid urbanization through the efficient utilization of energy, water, and waste.
Nawaya (13) (‘Intention, Seed or Nucleus’ in Arabic) is an initiative launched by a team of young “green” Egyptians who are proponents of sustainable agriculture to co-create self-reliant, bottom-up and resilient rural communities in Egypt. Additionally, Sarant (2012) mentioned The National Coalition on Climate Change(14) for Egypt developed a citizen platform that creates campaigns to raise awareness on climate change issues. Denselow (2017) mentioned The Nile Project (15) which was founded by an Egyptian ethnomusicologist and an Ethiopian-American singer to create an intercultural dialogue between the people of the Nile Basin countries using an innovative approach that combines music, education and an enterprise platform. It is a creative model for African cooperation on issues such as water conflicts
Similarly, The Presidency of Meteorology and Environment (PME) (16) in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA) announced a decree mandating organizations to meet the air, water, and noise pollution standards approved nationally and internationally.
FUTURE EARTH & SUSTAINABILITY CHALLENGES
The SDGs Global goals are integrated where one goal would affect the outcomes of others and might impact some goals and initiatives in other neighboring countries as well.
Just the classification of the countries shows ineffective resources allocation and income differentials, but still earth economics doesn’t cover all types of resources.
Most of the resources and economic opportunities in the Arab region are still underutilized; the Arab world is at crossroads (17) where bold economic and social reforms are promising and yet fragility and persisting inequalities existed causing social cohesion.
- Water wars are currently emphasized.
- Global warming & Climate Change
- Poor Education
- Energy generation challenges.
- Ineffective policies,
- Lack of real action or inefficient implementation
- Inadequate funding
- fragility and violence
- Rapidly changing geopolitical landscape
These challenges are augmented by a range of other pressures, including increasing demand for resources and globalization (Future Earth, 2020) (18). Similarly, the region is undergoing drastic political and societal transitions, armed conflict, forced migration, and a flood of refugees. all resulted in unprecedented risks to their environments, livelihoods, safety, and cultures. Countries in the region will have to develop appropriate and effective mitigation and adaptation strategies in order to manage the causes and effects of such impacts in a sustainable manner. The region expects greater future opportunities in earth economics and management. The following is a matrix to reflect the different mandates of countries between earth and technological development and future earth management.
To enlarge the area of both space-Earth concern, this can bring global growth and maximization of wealth in various nations. While the SDGs promote more environmental and social development, the different countries must follow the system approach
FUTURE EARTH MANDATES
The following are some directions for policy formulation and decision making in countries and organizations
- The whole world is going through transformation, so the different initiatives must offer integrated, customizable and adaptable offerings pertinent to the sustainability challenges being faced in each country.
- To increase awareness on the global and regional organizations and ecosystem to provide proper guidance for the different initiatives and to validate the new ones.
- Quality basic products and services must be available to different stakeholder groups around the globe.
- Countries must collaborate with organization and institutions to provide awareness and information to individual to better equip them to contribute effectively to sustainability.
- Pilot the sustainability projects and test them for future replication.
- Sharing best practice and developing sustainability experts in the Arab World.
- Developing Sustainable cultures within individuals and organizations
- To recognize sustainability is unique to each country and region where context is essential.
- To develop a reliable updated data base for the different sustainability practices in the region and the supporting and educating organizations
- To develop Sustainability certification and accreditation to develop trainers and consultants for awareness and strategy formulation.
ABOUT THE AUTHORS
PROFESSOR DR.FAREED EL NAGGAR
Professor El Naggar worked as a senior management and economic consultant with the World Bank and the Arab League where he worked on several projects and organized the first conferences on Globalization in 1994 and on Women Empowerment in 1997. He has been the Director of the Higher Supreme Universities Council, Promoting Committee for Professors & Associate Professors in Business Administration and Management Sciences (2004– 2012) responsible for all the academic research in Business and Management in Egypt. Dr.Fareed is an active researcher with a lot of publications and conference organization and participation. He is Passionate, Visionary, and a great Mentor. You can email him: email@example.com
DR. NEHAL EL NAGGAR
Dr.Nehal is a Doctorate degree holder with 22 years of experience; she believes in the value of education as the greatest investment and who believes in people as the greatest asset. She worked as a Researcher, Academic Instructor and Advisor and a Business Consultant. She has been teaching both the undergraduate and graduate students in various National and International Universities. Dr.Nehal has the Passion for Research, Personal Development & Empowerment of Students. Dr. El Naggar won the Technology in Governments in Africa Award (TIGA) while working with the Egyptian Government as a Business Development Officer at The Ministry of State for Administrative Development (MSAD). She is currently an Assistant Professor at the Royal University for Women in the Kingdom of Bahrain where she manages the Center of Excellence for Women Empowerment, over the past 4 years she coordinated students; activities where RUW won the first place in the INJAZ Bahrain Young Entrepreneurs Company Competition for two consecutive years and Regional Competition in INJAZ ARABS. Dr.Nehal participated in a Book titled: “On Startups” as she believes in new ideas and in guiding entrepreneurs who are in search for both identity and a path. Nehal aims to inspire her family and students to find their true purpose in life. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org
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