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Story | Community
12 September 2021

Qatar Green Building Council encourages people to take climate action into their own hands

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Qatar Foundation to host its first Climate Change Conference this month

A key component in tackling climate change is empowering people, groups, and organizations to take responsibility for their actions. And this belief is at the core of Qatar Foundation’s Qatar Green Building Council, which, over the last five years, has seen the number of people engaging with its programs and activities grow from 6,000 to 200,000 – more than 3,000 percent.

This growth reflects an increased urgency from nations around the world to become more sustainable. With only nine years left to meet the objectives set out in the Paris Agreement – and the COP26 climate change summit taking place in November this year – Qatar Foundation (QF) has organized its first Climate Change Conference this month, with the aim of bringing people and organizations together to discuss how to pursue local sustainability goals.

Qatar Green Building Council (QGBC) is among them. When it was launched, the QF entity initially focused its efforts in Qatar on educating the community, groups, and organizations on the effects of climate change. But after several years of working to establish a baseline knowledge of sustainability, its focus shifted.

Since COP18 in 2012, which was hosted in Qatar, we have noticed a marked increase in awareness within the community.

Meshal Al-Shamari, Director, QGBC

“Since COP18 in 2012, which was hosted in Qatar, we have noticed a marked increase in awareness within the community,” says Meshal Al-Shamari, Director, QGBC. “I believe that bringing the conference here was a significant step for climate change – in government organizations and private sector entities, too,”

A survey conducted by QGBC in 2016 showed a high level of awareness of the effects of climate change within Qatar. However, effective systems and operations were missing. “For example, when we talk about recycling, people know about the impact of waste reduction, but there are few segregation facilities available,” Al-Shamari explains.

So QGBC began to focus on programs that would help empower the community to take ownership of their actions – moving from passive to active consumers – and encourage public and private sector organizations to become more responsible, with initiatives such as Qatar Sustainability Week.

Meshal Al-Shamari, Director, QGBC

“In 2016, 10,000 participants took part in the inaugural Qatar Sustainability Week,” says Al-Shamari. “And in 2019, we had 50,000 participants. In that first year, we also had about 100 organizations join the program, and in 2019, there were more than 280. So this number is continuing to increase.”

Other key QGBC programs include No Paper Day, Qatar Sustainability Awards, Green Key Certification, the Eco-School and the Eco-Event Programs. And over the years, these programs have gained traction among the related sectors and the community in Qatar.

“Ultimately, we believe that everybody can find sustainable alternatives to everyday actions. And I think people want to – they’re looking to make changes.”

Meshal Al-Shamari, Director, QGBC

“The beauty of the Eco-School Program is that it is student-driven,” says Al-Shamari. “We provide the guidelines and technical support, but it is up to the students to establish a committee and promote sustainability within their respective schools.

“We believe that this is important because when you give these young people the chance to plan and lead the work themselves, they feel a sense of ownership – they feel that it is their program; it is their school.”

The same concept applies to the Green Key Certification, with hotels responsible for developing policies, procedures, educating and training staff, raising awareness among visitors, and making physical changes to their buildings, such as lightbulbs, waste systems, and catering companies.

Qatar Academy Doha organizes beach clean ups for students.

“There has been a real shift in mindsets as people are noticing the adverse effects to the planet, which before were perhaps only really noticeable by scientists.”

Meshal Al-Shamari, Director, QGBC

“There has been a real shift in mindsets as people are noticing the adverse effects to the planet, which before were perhaps only really noticeable by scientists.”

QF’s Climate Change Conference 2021, sponsored by ExxonMobil Qatar, is being held in partnership with the Abdullah Bin Hamad Al-Attiyah International Foundation for Energy and Sustainable Development at QF’s Education City on September 13, 2021.

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