Home » Oman Sustainability Week: The road toward sustainability

Oman Sustainability Week: The road toward sustainability

by Mohammad Ghazal

This year’s Oman Sustainability Week (OSW) will be hosted by the Ministry of Energy and Minerals (MEM), with Petroleum Development Oman (PDO) as the host organiser. Running from 12th March until 16th March, as a national-level event, it will bring together policymakers, sustainability experts and industry leaders. Further, it will be a key opportunity to discuss the actionable ways that different parties can promote sustainability and showcase developments in energy, power, water, and waste. This event aligns with Oman Vision 40, the government’s strategic long-term vision for the country’s development, of which sustainability is a central focus. Introduced in 2019, it has a particular focus on the development of renewable energy, creating climate-resilient communities, and environmental protection.

With the aim of pushing forward the green agenda, OSW is set to position the country as a place that implements sustainable practices throughout all industries and sectors. This transition toward greater sustainability is imperative in Oman, not only because it is a nation at high risk of the effects of climate change, but also because of its dependency on hydrocarbons, with around 70 percent of its annual budget being derived from oil and gas. With a recent analysis of top oil and gas firms finding that many green strategies are dominated by pledges and little else, it’s essential that energy companies realise their role in diversifying the energy mix and transitioning to green energy for the sake of the planet’s future.

An opportunity for action-based conversation and knowledge sharing

OSW 2023, as explained by Dr Ali Al Rajhi, Director General for Planning and Studies, Ministry of Energy and Minerals and OSW Steering Committee Chair, seeks to be a platform to advocate for sustainability. This will be facilitated by offering a series of activities with the aim of knowledge sharing. For example, the International Sustainability Resources & Technology Conference (ISRTC), organised by the Oman Environmental Service Holding Company S.A.O.C (be’ah) and programmed by Economist Impact, will be held on the 13th and 14th of March at OCEC. Similarly, the C-level thought leadership Gaia Summit organised by the Society of Petroleum Engineers (SPE) will take place on the 15th and 16th of March.

Likewise, Oman Sustainability Week Talks (13th to 15th March) is an open panel forum where speakers will share sustainability insights and present innovative products and solutions. Elsewhere at the event, the OSW Exhibition (13th to 15th March) will host over 80 exhibitors, 7000 attendees, 100-plus expert speakers and 450 conference delegates.

Waste management and the circular economy

In Oman, solid waste management is a top priority of the government, with the be’ah being one of the companies leading sustainable waste management. In 2022, for example, it set itself the goal of reducing municipal waste and diverting 60 percent of solid waste by 2025 and 80 per cent by 2030 from engineered landfills in Oman.

Be’ah is one of the strategic sponsors of the event, and alongside organising the International Sustainability, Resources, and Technology Conference (ISRTC), it will also showcase some of its sustainability-focused projects and initiatives. This will take place at the OSW Exhibition and Technical Workshops, where be’ah will exhibit the upcoming Waste to Energy plant and Biogas project. Projections are that the plant will have a daily capacity of 4,500 tonnes of municipal waste, and is pegged to reduce the carbon footprint of landfills by 50 million tonnes in 35 years. The company has outlined that this is the equivalent of 30 percent of the total carbon dioxide currently emitted by landfill operations in Oman.

While there, the public and visitors alike will have the opportunity to engage with Be’ah employees and gain insights into the company’s operational activities.

In an email correspondence with ESG Mena, Be’ah described Oman Sustainability Week as a “multifaceted and diverse event” that brings together thought leaders, and explained that the ISRTC Conference aims to address the urgent need for action on climate change. Further, the company explained that it also seeks to promote a green transformation that will “not only create a cleaner planet” but also “foster economic growth and improve public health.”

In a statement, Be’ah said: “The Middle East region is working towards accelerating this transition and requires collaboration between leaders in business and government to design and implement action plans. Following COP27, the Oman Sustainability Week will host practical discussions to explore what an equitable transition to a sustainable society looks like and bring together scientific and technological communities to help put these plans into action.”

Adding: “In its second edition, the ISRTC will cover key themes such as assessing the progress of renewable energy in the Middle East, understanding the business growth opportunities arising from net-zero ambitions, exploring the role of sustainable finance, determining how circularity will drive future consumption and production in the region, and establishing a link to the upcoming COP-28 event.”

Likewise, discussing the objectives of the Oman Sustainability Week Awards, the company said that they aim to provide recognition, guidance, and state of the industry insights to organisations operating in Oman in the areas of sustainability and corporate responsibility. “The awards seek to raise awareness of sustainability issues and support companies and organisations in integrating responsible and sustainable practices into their corporate strategies and long-term planning,” said a Be’ah spokesperson. Adding: “Participants in the awards will have the opportunity to perform a situation analysis, mapping out their current sustainability status versus industry peers, and identifying medium and longer-term risks and opportunities using be’ah’s proprietary framework.”

Funding the future 

Financing is key to unlocking the energy transition, and in Oman, the Oman Investment Authority, the country’s sovereign wealth fund, is pursuing a number of projects related to energy and water, with a sustainability focus, to drive forward the nation’s green targets. This includes its collaboration with SLB and Oman’s Ministry of Energy and Minerals to build a national strategy to develop the potential of the country’s geothermal resources, as well as its plans to study new investment opportunities in renewable energy in Egypt.

Likewise, Oman Infrastructure Fund, affiliated with OIA, recently announced its commitment to ESG principles, noting that all investment decisions in infrastructure projects are now made based on a candidate’s adherence to ESG and sustainability principles.

The imperative for real, actionable pledges and initiatives

The time for real change is now, and it’s clear that leaders, companies and NGOs must unite to make Oman Vision 2040 a reality, and, together, create an effective long-term plan for the post-oil economy. Likewise, with countries like Oman facing the brunt of climate change’s effects, adaptation efforts must be allocated as much attention and investment as climate change mitigation. Events like Oman Sustainability Week are an opportunity to get serious about sustainability and an opportunity that must be capitalised on, and not sidelined by lip service.

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