The Business Year

Abdullah Bin Ali Al Amri

OMAN - Green Economy

Abdullah Bin Ali Al Amr

Chairman, Environment Authority

Bio

Abdullah Bin Ali Al Amri holds a BS in geology from Qatar University, a master’s in engineering geology and hydrogeology from Moscow University, and a PhD in civil engineering: environmental engineering from University Technology Malaysia. His experience includes head of the department of water research, a member of the Committee of Municipality affairs — Dhofar — Sadah, vice chairman of Oman Abalone fisheries management and development committee, member of Shura Council and chairman of the Omani Belarusian friendship committee.

Oman's environmental roles and responsibilities are becoming more ambitious and focused on facilitating sustainable development on all fronts and ensuring Vision 2040 is a success.

As the Environment Authority is replacing the ministry, what does this mean for your responsibilities and your mandate?

Environmental activities are relatively the same, as all environmental work related to the earlier Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs was transferred to the Authority in accordance to the Royal Decree. At this stage, improving environmental performance is gaining momentum and attracting increasing attention at global and regional levels considering the increase in environmental and social impacts of various industrial activities coupled with increasing social expectations to conserve the environment. Similarly, at a national level, environmental work is having a pivotal role on Oman’s endeavors to diversify its economy and accelerate implementation of Vision 2040. In fact, environmental roles cut across all sectors within Oman such as energy, mining, industrial, tourism, oil, and gas all need to play active role in embedding environmental requirements and enhancing sustainable development for the benefits of the current and future generations. The Environment Authority is working closely with all stakeholders, partners, and government ministries to update the environmental legal framework, set key performance indicators, improve data collection, and enhance environmental monitoring. On the climate change front, the authority jointly works with key sectors, through a national joint task force, to update Oman greenhouse gas inventory and develop emissions reduction roadmaps for key sectors. The authority also works with international investors to evaluate the potential of developing large-scale mangrove plantation project to offset Oman’s increasing carbon emissions.

How do you balance the environmental consequences of commercial activities with the idea of turning natural reserves into a source of income?

Oman is blessed with a rich biodiversity and spectacular environmental and geological features. Throughout the years, a number of areas have been designated as nature reserves or conservation areas to ensure long term protection of these unique areas from unsustainable activities. From our end, a number of measures are taken to limit possible impacts from sustainable tourism activities or commercial activities. For example, nature reserves are designated and categorized according to their environmental and biodiversity sensitivity and certain less sensitive areas are offered for investment. Similarly, each nature reserve follows a strict scientific zoning system where zones are divided according to the importance of its biodiversity features with buffer areas for additional protection. Each zone will have a list of permitted and non-permitted activities taking into consideration the possible environmental impacts from these activities. In our case, only outer zones and less sensitives ones are offered for the development of sustainable activities with clear guidelines and requirements. Furthermore, each nature reserve has dedicated rangers who monitor the area and ensure compliance.

What is the state of the waste management system in Oman?

Waste management in Oman has witnessed transformational progress and improvements across all fronts since the establishment of Oman Environmental Services Holding company (be’ah). Proper engineered landfills for solid waste management have been established throughout all governorates in Oman and almost all earlier dump yards are closed. More work is focused on improving hazardous waste management, waste minimization, recycling, and reuse. In addition, there is ongoing work to update the waste management legal framework to embed waste management 4Rs principles (reduce, reuse, recycle, and recover) and capture best practices for management of all industrial and domestic waste streams. The authority has recently issued regulation to limit single-use plastic products like plastic bags and encourage less harmful alternatives. Overall, waste is no longer considered a waste, but a resource that has the potential to provide unlimited opportunities for reuse and recycling in line with circular economy principles. Various waste products in Oman are already reused and recycled across different sectors and value chains such as tires, plastic, wood, and lead acid batteries. Local SMEs play a key role in this area, and there are still many more recycling opportunities to be unlocked.

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