The concept of sustainable development in the MENA like elsewhere has a central principle at its heart: that development should meet the needs of the present, without damaging the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.

Sustainability practices within the confines of the built environment can not only generate decent earnings, but they can also reduce costs and manage risks whilst help grow civil responsibility behaviour.

Could there realistically be sustainability practices in construction all as advocated by an increasingly greater number of, as it were, its firm and serious believers.

The issue here is rather whether sustainability can be monetised and therefore used as incentive for all intents and purposes of a better future. 

Although many of MENA’s economic challenges have been widely analysed, environmental challenges are rarely taken into consideration in the process of formulating economic policies in the region.

An essay titled “Sustainable Development and Environmental challenges in the MENA region: accounting for the environment in the 21st century” was written by Susan L. Sakmar, Mathis Wackernagel, Alessandro Galli, David Moore (Working Paper 592) in June 2011.

The paper proposes a framework for discussion on the economic ramification of various environmental issues facing the MENA countries.  Furthermore, it highlights the importance of establishing an environmental accountability for MENA as set forth under the System of Environmental Economic Accounting (SEEA).

The document proposed to use the ecological footprint as an additional tool for resource and ecosystem service accounting based on the principle of the Ecological Footprint being a resource accounting tool that measures how much productive area it takes to produce what a population consumes and absorb its waste, using prevailing technology.

The authors acknowledge the fact that given the complexity of any sustainable development concept, it would obviously be painful to handle today without robust accounting tools and indicators.  Yet, there is a consensual agreement on the imperious need for more analysis is needed on the areas of overlap and potential integration of these two systems all despite the already existence of many of these tools that can be found in the SEEA and Ecological Footprint. 

• We reproduce here for the benefit of all an article that posted on MENA-Forum on 27 October 2014 and actualised herewith.

Sustainability in the MENA

Nowhere is this more prescient than in the MENA region, where political instability and a significant proportion of the population who exist on less than two dollars a day, are in stark contrast to the region’s vast natural resources and well-educated population. This region is vital to global stability and long-term progress, and development issues cover environmental, economic and social goals. Geography and natural resources have always had influential political power as well as civilisational bearing on the rest of the world.

The challenge, then, for anyone involved or interested in development in the MENA region, is how to best meet the needs of the present population, without leaving adverse impacts for the generations of tomorrow to deal with. This is where the idea of information sharing and exchange of professional ideas becomes so important. It is only by sharing experiences, knowledge and expertise, that the development community as a whole can move forwards together, and become a key contributor to stability and prosperity for all in the region.

The internet plays a vital role in this field, as it allows development professionals from across the 22 or so countries in the MENA region to communicate across physical and geographical borders. Whether it’s sharing stories of innovative ways to preserve historical and cultural landmarks alongside new infrastructure development, or learning new techniques of delivering clean air and water, internet forums are a fast-growing way for development professionals to share expertise and grow as a community.  A study by Cisco dated June 2015 forecast that the number of users in the MENA region users numbers are expected to reach 425m by 2019.