The upcoming Shura Council will have to tackle challenging environmental issues and develop related laws that will help promote sustainability and scientific research, a ministry official has said.
Those eligible can cast their votes for the much-awaited Shura Council elections on October 2.
Dr. Mohamed Saif al-Kuwari, Director of the Environmental and Municipal Studies Center at the Ministry of Municipality and Environment (MME), told Qatar TV that the new council will have a vital role in ensuring the country remains in line with the national plan for climate change, which is deemed vital on an international level.
The council should monitor the implementation of the plan and give it legal support when needed, he added.
Al-Kuwari said that environmental challenges are ever-changing and require different priorities, noting it is essential for the council to develop laws and legislation that would help spread the culture of caring for and maintaining the environment while also promoting scientific research in its field.
The council’s efforts should also include necessary suggestions needed to preserve local land and marine environment, both of which play a vital role in the country’s ecosystem and environmental culture.
Engineer Meshal al-Shamari, director of Qatar Green Buildings Council, also highlighted the council’s legislative role in combating climate change – a challenge that imposes a significant threat globally.
Al-Shamari told Qatar TV that most of the projects being implemented by authorities align with the green building standards and noted huge efforts are being taken by government entities to maintain sustainability in buildings.
Such efforts are crucial to Qatar, especially as the country works towards tackling the “worst sustainability, air quality” ranks.
According to the 2017 statistics by The World Bank, Qatar comes third in the top five countries globally by the share of the population exposed to polluted air, with approximately 91% of breathable air described as polluted.
With 99.7%, Nepal tops the list, shortly followed by Niger (94.1%), Qatar (91%), India (90.9%), Saudi Arabia (87.9%) and Egypt at (87%).
The World Health Organisation considers air with PM2.5 concentrations over 10 micrograms per cubic metre as unhealthy and polluted, and given the Gulf country’s exposure to dirty air, the percentage is significantly high in comparison to other countries.
Meanwhile, another 2017 report by Earth Overshoot Day recorded Qatar as the top country with the poorest sustainability scores, stating that if everybody on the planet lived like Qatar’s population, 9.2 earths’ worth of resources would be required to sustain life.
However, despite the worrying statistics, Qatar has been actively working on improving conditions across the country in recent years.
The Gulf nation has engaged in significant efforts to boost sustainability and environment preservation with several policies and plans ahead of the much-awaited World Cup 2022.
This includes the execution of major projects in infrastructure and transportation that follow the highest international standards.
In addition, Qatar is implementing gradual transportation to full-electric includes public bus services, government school buses, and Doha Metro’s buses. This aims to reduce harmful carbon emissions caused by conventional buses in less than a decade from now, in addition to achieving efforts to maintain environmental sustainability.
Authorities are also working towards establishing an integrated network of electric car chargers in order to support the ministry’s plan to gradually transform the electric transport system.
The elected Shura Council will have legislative authority and will be able to approve general state policies and their budgets. It will also exercise control over the executive, except for bodies defining defense, security, economic, and investment policy.
All members of the Council have the right to propose legislative bills, and all proposals must be referred to a relevant committee to be analyzed.
This committee will then submit any and all recommendations to the Council which will decide on whether it agrees with the amendments. This will then be submitted as a draft to the government, studying the text and providing an opinion before returning the feedback to the Council.
The Shura Council has the right to forward proposals relative to public matters to the government. However, if the government is unable to comply with such aspirations, it must give its reasons to the Council.
The law states a Council member shall not be reprimanded for opinions and statements expressed before the rest of the members and the committees while maintaining objective interests for the country without exploiting their position.
Last month, the preliminary list of candidates for Qatar’s Shura Council elections were announced, presenting 300 candidates from 30 electoral circles.
To be eligible for nomination, candidates must be originally Qatari and aged 30 and above by the closing date of the nomination. They must also be fluent in reading and writing in Arabic.
Those who hold ministerial and military positions – state, judicial bodies, ministers of state, Central Municipal Council – cannot nominate themselves.
Candidates working at ministries or other government entities whose names are included in the final lists of candidates are given unpaid leave throughout the elections if they do not have a sufficient leave balance.
Meanwhile, all registered voters across all electoral districts will be called to cast their votes for the much-awaited elections on 2 October, authorities revealed.
Qatari citizens will be able to vote for a total of 30 members out of the 45 in a general ballot, with Amir Sheikh Tamim bin Hamad Al Thani selecting the remaining 15.