The Business Year

Mohammed S. Al Tobi

OMAN - Green Economy

Natural Environment Policy to be created in cooperation with industry leaders

Minister, Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs

Bio

HE Mohammed bin Salim al Toobi is the current Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs. He has 18 years of experience working with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO). He holds a degree in Human Resource Management and is member of the Shura Council for Nizwa as well as the Environment Society of Oman (ESO).

"We have coordinated with the Ministry of Tourism to prepare regulations for investing."

What role does the Ministry of Environment and Climate Affairs play in diversifying the economy?

The ministry participates with other government agencies in the Sultanate in its role in achieving economic diversification through several axes. The first involves the continuous development of policies and procedures to attract serious investors through improving the business environment. New regulations for issuing environmental permits have been issued, a comprehensive environmental permit system has been implemented, and an e-portal for issuing permits has been launched, as well as other procedures that are in line with the current stage and looking forward to the future. The second axis includes providing advice and technical and legal support to investors and development agencies in the sectors targeted by economic diversification in order to inform them of the best global practices for sustainable development in these sectors and the latest technologies. The third axis involves working with investors and coordinating with consulting companies that are assigned to conduct environmental studies—if required according to the applicable regulations—and then issuing the environmental permits and licenses necessary for the project. The fourth axis is related to the direct role played by the ministry in diversifying the sources of income. We have coordinated with the Ministry of Tourism to prepare regulations for investing in nature reserves ecotourism and is currently completing the necessary procedures for offering investment opportunities in two nature reserves as a first stage. The ministry has played an active role in diversifying the Omani economy by encouraging the use of renewable energy sources and the use of low-carbon technologies, which will contribute to the economic growth of the Sultanate and contribute to diversifying the Omani economy and achieving environmental benefit by reducing greenhouse gas emissions. The ministry also launched the “Green Climate for a Green Future“ initiative in 2016 to record and inventory green projects, applications, and ideas in the areas of climate change adaptation and mitigation that they have done or planning to do in the future. The ministry will also intensify its efforts in the development and implementation of other tourism plans in Al Qurum Nature Reserve in Muscat Governorate, the Al Jabal Al Akhdar reserve, the Wetlands Reserve in Al-Wasta Governorate, and the Turtle Reserve in A’sharqiayh South Governorate. In cooperation with the Ministry of Tourism, we have set up the regulation of tourism investment in nature reserves in line with purpose for establishing protected areas and in line with the preservation of biological diversity.

What environmental projects are currently being led by the ministry, especially in the field of water treatment and waste management, and what is the expected impact on the economy?

The ministry is currently leading a national project to prepare a national environmental policy for the energy sector in cooperation with the relevant parties. It is expected that this policy will open up new areas of economy and development in the framework of environmental protection and public health and saving in the budget of payments, especially those related to external economic cost. The ministry also prepared the final draft of the integrated waste management law in cooperation with the Omani Holding Company for Environment Services (BEA) and many partners, which will be an important addition in reducing the damage and risks to the environment, especially the preservation of groundwater quality and environmental quality through the application of the best and latest technologies. In addition, it will open the way for green investment in the sectors of waste management and recovery of value, which also contributes to the economic sector of small and medium enterprises in addition to major investment projects. Improving infrastructure and the quality of the environment are attractive factors for investment, which is expected from the implementation of these projects in addition to other projects carried out by the authorities responsible for water management in the Sultanate, such as the Ministry of Regional Municipalities and Water Resources and the company. The ministry is currently working on a draft waste management law in cooperation with various partners such as Oman Holding for Environmental Services (Bee’ah) and other relevant competent authorities, which will certainly be an important addition in the field of waste management to reduce damage to the environment and its natural components. We also conduct continuous and periodic reviews of our decisions related to the protection of water wells.

What is the role of renewable energy sources such as solar energy and wind energy in industrial growth and environmental conservation?

The Sultanate’s approach to generating electricity using renewable energy sources such as sun and wind will have a positive effect in several respects, including reducing the amount of greenhouse gas emissions and reducing the pollution caused by emissions and waste generated by the use of non-renewable sources of fuel, resulting in a significant improvement in quality-of-life indicators for current and future generations. The diversification of energy sources is one of the policies adopted by the government to achieve energy security and provide what is needed in light of population growth and expansion in the industrial sector and other strategic sectors. In addition, opening the way for renewable energy will contribute to economic diversification and attract SMEs to work in the green business sector. Such projects will reduce long-term greenhouse gas emissions, diversify energy sources, reduce dependence on low energy, create sustainable growth, promote environmental awareness, reduce pollution of all forms caused by the use of fossil fuels, and enhance the energy security of the country.

What will be some of the ministry’s concerns in the coming years?

We continuously work on development programs using the lean approach, which the ministry has already started with some of its applications, in addition to enhancing human resource capabilities at various levels to prepare for dealing with future changes. The ministry is keen to complete the process of full electronic transformation of various services provided to clients, increase efficiency and effectiveness in the methods and approaches of environmental management, and implement the recommendations of the global advisory study on re-engineering procedures to achieve further development and modernization to keep pace with the contemporary world. We will continue to activate cooperation frameworks with various international bodies and organizations specialized in environmental management and human development, such as cooperation with the Institute for Environmental Management and Assessment of the United Kingdom (IEMA), the Center for Environmental Sciences and Fisheries (CEFAS) of the Ministry of the Environment in the UK, the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), and others. In the field of environmental policies, the ministry seeks to build a culture of voluntary environmental compliance through various incentive tools to enable entrepreneurs and industry to comply with environmental laws, and to contribute and participate in the preservation of the environment and conservation of natural resources while achieving sustainable development. Further, it will continue the work on nature reserves management development of by allowing the private sector to invest in ecotourism and activating the management protection approach to provide financial resources to protect wildlife components and the sustainability of ecosystem services as well as focusing on continued cooperation with universities and scientific research institutions to carry out further joint applied research to strengthen the scientific foundation in order support decision makers.

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