Categorized | CSR, Environment

Gulf-wide legislative framework for waste management key to securing sustainable future

2317The challenges of driving public and private sector commitment to ensure positive long term change in the effective handling of waste management headlined day two of the Green Middle East 2011 conference, which runs from 17-19 October at Expo Centre Sharjah.

Held in association with Bee’ah, one of the region’s leading integrated environmental and waste management organisations, Green Middle East 2011 which is under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Dr. Sultan Bin Mohammed Al Qassimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah, provides a platform from which to explore groundbreaking technologies and products, and discuss best practices to successfully manage waste in a cost-effective and environmental friendly manner.

International strategy advisor, Nigel Mattravers, Director, Government of Infrastructure Advisory, Grant Thornton UK, delivered an insightful presentation detailing the critical path necessary to achieving sound legislative practices. “It is difficult for anybody to move forward without [a combination of] legislation and modern methods for treating waste. If there’s an absence of legislation, then the cheapest option will always prevail – and that usually means waste being dumped in a hole in the ground,” he said in his opening address.

“The Romans had legislation for the cleaning of their streets, and yet it wasn’t until 1972 that the UK introduced properly regulated waste management practices, with the real revolution in legislation coming from Europe, where uncontrolled landfilling began to have a huge environmental impact in the 1970s and ‘80s,” he remarked.

Mattravers also argued that, for this region, the successful implementation of wide-ranging policies is reliant not only on the actions of individual countries or states, but a combined regional framework. “[Governments] need to be on the same level playing field, and I would suggest an overarching framework for the region for where we are going with waste. This would also present opportunities to influence companies in terms of packaging regulations,” he remarked.

By making it expensive to dump waste, Mattravers believes that companies and individuals will begin to look at alternative solutions that can also yield significant economic benefits.

“Clear forward planning across all aspects of legislation is crucial, particularly the partnerships and agreements between central government, local government and municipalities; as well as ensuring transparency and addressing public trust issues,” he said.

An effective framework also needs to crucially address the thorny issue of financing, from the outset. “All the things we are talking about are expensive, so who ultimately pays – is it the householders, government, the private sector? And secondly, with whom do ownership responsibilities lie?” he commented.

In a region where waste management is still in its relative infancy, the potential of incentivisation is another avenue to be explored according to Mattravers, with successful buy-in from end users through to big waste operators seen in other international markets. However, he cautioned against the issuing of frequent regulatory changes as a potential deterrent for private sector investment. “There must be consistent legislation throughout the life of a project, as many projects have a lifespan of up to 20 or more years; so any changes to the rulings could render an investment worthless,” he concluded.

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