Addressing Qatar’s Ecological Consciousness

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By Neeshad VS

Over the past six months, Earth Talks Qatar has gained a reputation for attracting leading academics, thinkers and activists from all over the world.

Knowledge of environmental issues and sustainability is increasingly important as industrialisation and climate change continue to wreak havoc in our ecosystems and psyche. As temperatures rise and icecaps shrink and storms lash our coastal areas into oblivion, being smart about carbon footprints, waste streams and consumer choices become increasingly important for all of us.

That’s where the Earth Talks come in.

The Earth Talks Series is hosted by the Arab Youth Climate Movement (AYCM) Qatar. The series serves as a forum through which experts from non-government organisations, academia, government and the private sector share their experiences, wealth of insight and information about the pressing issues of the 21st century through the different voices speaking on behalf of the Earth. Through the Earth Talk Series, AYCM Qatar aspires to bring many of the world’s greatest thinkers, leaders and activists to Qatar. Its mission is to help everyday people like you and me understand complex environmental issues, promote sustainability and live greener lives. AYCM responds to the urgency and the dire need of environmental education in Qatar. The significance of environmental education (or eco literacy) is emphasised in the National Development Strategy 2011-2016 and 2017-2022. Creating an ecologically conscious society is a precursor to achieving a sustainable society, which was the ultimate vision of Qatar National Vision (QNV 2030).

The forums were organised at the Qatar National Library and Qatar Green Building Council and were open to the public for free. So far two distinguished guests have been part of AYCM Qatar.

Dr Joe Ravetz, Co-Director of the Centre for Urban Resilience & Energy at the University of Manchester, talked about urbanisation and the need to focus on building “wise communities”. Ravetz has pioneered the art of strategic thinking for sustainable cities and regions, which brings together environment-climate policy, urban planning and design, new economics and governance, innovation and future studies, systems thinking and complexity science. An architect, planner and development manager, he is also a creative graphic facilitator and foresight trainer.  His main publications include ‘City-Region 2020: integrated planning for a sustainable environment’, ‘Environment and City’, and the forthcoming ‘Urban 3.0’ (Earthscan/ Routledge).  He is on the editorial boards of Foresight Journal, International Journal of Sustainable Development, and Sustainable Mediterranean Construction; coordinator of the Greater Manchester Policy Exchange;  Principal at SAMI Consulting; policy advisor currently to Naples (Italy), and Vellore (India);  and delivers training, seminars, consultancy, keynotes and reviews in many countries.

In late March, AYCM Qatar hosted Dr Vandana Shiva, who discussed the ecological crisis and the future of global food security; the lecture was held in Qatar National Library.

Dr Shiva is a philosopher, environmental activist, author and eco-feminist. She is an author of more than 20 books including Biopiracy: the Plunder of Nature and Knowledge and Water Wars; Privatization, Pollution, and Profit.

She is one of the leaders and board members of the International Forum on Globalization (along with Jerry Mander, Edward Goldsmith, Ralph Nader and Jeremy Rifkin), and a figure of the global solidarity movement known as the alter-globalisation movement. She has argued for the wisdom of many traditional practices, and founded Navdanya (nine seeds), a movement promoting diversity and the use of native seeds.

Vandana set up the Research Foundation for Science, Technology and Ecology in her mother’s cowshed in 1997. Its studies have validated the ecological value of traditional farming and been instrumental in fighting destructive development projects in India. She is a member of the scientific committee of the Fundacion IDEAS, and was awarded the Right Livelihood Award in 1993.

AYCM Qatar’s upcoming lectures will include world renowned individuals like Dr Rajendra Pachauri – Nobel Prize Winner, Former Chairman of Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), Dr David Orr – Distinguished Professor, Oberlin College, Dr Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Professor Emeritus, George Washington University, Christina Figures – Former Executive Secretary of United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Annie Leonard – Creator of Story of Stuff and Executive Director of Greenpeace USA and Dr Jane Goodall – British primatologist and anthropologist.

About Arab Youth Climate Movement Qatar

AYCMQ is an independent, registered, non-profit, non-government organisation in Qatar, which aims at providing knowledge that serves public interest and maximises general welfare. We do this by raising ecological consciousness of the citizens and residents through high-quality awareness programmes for various age groups and audiences in Qatar.