Oman: environmental issues to be addressed in Vision 2040

    19 Jul 2021

    Oman Vision 2040 stated that the Sultanate has made unremitting efforts to ensure that natural resources are protected and used safely and soundly, people are protected from harmful environmental impacts, and that environment is effectively managed in a way that supports the prosperity of the society.

    For this, the Vision’s top priorities include concern for the environment as a well-established culture with the citizens and institutions. It also includes that environmental perspective is considered when making policies, making industrial planning and implementation decisions.

    Oman Observer quotes the 60th edition of the “Lynx,” the monthly newsletter by the National Field Research Centre for Environmental Conservation. The authors of this survey say that the strategic approach of Oman Vision-2040 is based on effective, balanced, and resilient ecosystems to protect the environment and sustain its natural resources supporting the national economy.

    This future trend is based on the fact that natural resources’ optimal use and sustainability are necessary to support the economic environment and stimulate it for production. The future strategy in the field of natural resource management will focus on developing non-traditional sources of natural resources, such as the use of various types of renewable energy that contribute to reducing costs on the productive sectors and enhancing their competitiveness. In addition to adopting a transformation approach towards a green economy that enhances the issue of environmental sustainability, contributes to achieving stability, reducing restrictions and pressures on the financial management, and supplying the treasury with financing sources through non-traditional natural sources.

    “In the field of natural resource management, achieving a balance between development requirements and environmental sustainability is a national priority. There is also an urgent need for structural reform in the water sector, expanding sanitation services, supporting and using modern technology to take advantage of wastewater to use it in various fields such as agriculture and others, aiming to increase and diversify agricultural production based on current technology methods. This would lead to favorable levels of food security and gradually manufacture raw materials; to enhance the local added value and build technical capabilities in this field, which also contributes to diversifying sources of income and strengthening the Sultanate economically.

    According to “Lynx,” the challenges faced are many, including limiting the follow-up of environmental conservation to a specific institution, without considering the fact that all other sectors share the field of the environment. Also, there is a negative understanding of environmental protection as an obstacle to development. The Sultanate strives to have the “concern for the environment” as a firm culture with the citizens and various institutions. In addition to the absence of a national environmental database as a solid infrastructure to support decision-making, policy-making, monitoring, follow-up, and evaluation process. The driving forces and pressures affecting the environment in the Sultanate are represented by population growth, economic growth, and energy demand.

    The high population and economic growth have exerted severe pressure on the area of cultivable land in the Sultanate.

    However, in the field of energy, energy production is totally focused on fossil fuels (oil and gas). Most of the final use of the energy sector is concentrated in generating electricity and transportation.

    In the field of water resources, the Sultanate is considered one of the countries that suffer from scarcity of water resources because it is located in the range of dry areas. Deteriorating groundwater quality is one of the pressures and challenges facing the water resources sector due to the high salinity of the groundwater in the coastal parts.

    The problem of desertification has also grown in the Sultanate during the past two decades. The marine environment is also exposed to illegal discharging of oils from ships and trans-carriers passing through regional waters and reach of these pollutants to the beaches. Besides, unmonitored fishing activities lead to the destruction of coral reefs and the depletion of fish stocks.

    All of these activities cause the death of several rare sea turtles, whales, and dolphins. In the same context, the growth of commercial marine fishing has environmental impacts. To address these challenges, the Sultanate has set up several legislations, programs, and initiatives, including updating the national plan to combat oil pollution, the national program for monitoring pollutants in the marine environment, monitoring the development of fish stocks, the mangrove cultivation project, monitoring the water situation, the national strategy for improving natural pastures, developing policies encouraging investment in food production projects, strengthening the air quality monitoring network, and reducing gas emissions depleting the ozone layer.

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