Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Environment and Sustainable Development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Current Status and Future Strategy

Academic journal article Journal of Sustainable Development

Environment and Sustainable Development in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia: Current Status and Future Strategy

Article excerpt


Air quality deterioration in urban areas; high energy demand and consumption due to regional population growth and economic development; concerns about safe drinking water supplies due to a scarcity of fresh water; air quality deterioration, industrial pollution, waste management, and pollution in coastal areas; and subsequent stress on marine ecosystems are all major environmental challenges being faced by the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. For effective protection of the environment, an interdisciplinary approach within a sustainable framework, which integrates human needs with economic development and environmental protection, is required. This paper presents an overview of Saudi Arabia's major environmental problems and challenges and offers opportunities to use economic growth, social equity, and protection of the environment as interrelated components. The role of active participation by governments, stakeholders, businesses, academic institutions, and individuals in the decision-making process and an inter-disciplinary research approach will be identified for each major environmental issue.

Keywords: air quality, energy, Saudi Arabia, sustainable development, waste management, water supply

1. Introduction

The interconnections between economic growth and the environment were recognized in the 1972 United Nations Stockholm Conference on the Human Environment. Fifteen years later, during the World Commission on Environment and Development, the UN-sponsored Brundtland Commission released Our Common Future, a report that captured widespread concerns about the environment and poverty in many parts of the world. This report indicated that economic development cannot stop but must change its course to fit within the planet's ecological limits. It also popularized the term "sustainable development", defining it as "development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of the future generations to meet their needs". During the World Commission, an agenda for environment and development in the 21st Century known as Agenda 21 was adopted and recognizes each nation's right to pursue social and economic progress. The lifestyle of the current civilization was addressed in Principle 8 of the Rio Declaration. Agenda 21 further reaffirmed that sustainable development is the integration of economic, social, and environmental pillars. It also calls on countries to adopt national strategies for sustainable development (NSDS) that build upon and harmonize various local economic, social, and environmental policies and plans within each country. In 2002, the World Summit on Sustainable Development (WSSD) was convened in Johannesburg to renew a global commitment to sustainable development. It urged the United States not only to take immediate steps to formulate and elaborate national strategies for sustainable development but also to begin their implementation by 2005.

The Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is committed to effectively implementing sustainable development within its national development plan and has made steady progress in its socio-economic development, gender equity, standard of living, health, education, and environmental legislation. Some of the potential areas in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia where environmental sustainability research can play important roles include:

(1) National air quality management plan

(2) Sustainable water resources planning

(3) Sustainable energy planning

(4) Marine pollution and ecological impact

(5) Waste management

Many other enviromnental issues exist which are not listed here. This paper, however, emphasizes an overview of the current status of the above major enviromnental concerns and offers a future strategy for how a sustainability concept can be applied effectively.

2. National Air Quality Management Plan

Air quality is a major public health and enviromnental issue that poses a significant threat to human health and the enviromnent. …

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