Q: Please describe your role and responsibility in CEDARE and the importance of CEDARE's sustainable growth programme for the Middle East and beyond.
A: I am currently the Regional Progamme Manager of the Sustainable Growth Programme in CEDARE. The SGP focuses on three main themes: Green Economy, Sustainable consumption and production, and Green ICT. These three themes are crucial to the Middle East as most of the countries need to generate “Green jobs” to reduce the unemployment rate and to use their resources more wisely.
Q: What are CEDARE's strategic objectives and how do you contribute to the achievements? What do you see as the toughest challenges in your current assignment?
A: CEDARE is teaming up with countries and institutions to weave and balance economic, environmental and social priorities in policies and actions for a more innovative, people-centred, inclusive and sustainable future, ingrained in the central principle of environment and development for human well-being.
The toughest challenge is to build human capacities to be excellent leaders of the future. This needs a lot of knowledge, passion, and time.
Q: Being involved in the Sustainable Growth Programme and fuel policy developments, where do you set your focus on?
A: We focus on regional policy development, whether in response to demand from policy makers, or pro-actively by raising awareness among policy makers in the Arab Region.
In the Arab Region a lot is being done to raise awareness among the general public about air pollution, fuel efficiency, etc, but little is being made to translate this into policies yet.
This step requires raising awareness among the policy makers in specific, i.e. mainstreaming concepts (and new vocabulary) of fuel quality and road-sector fuel efficiency in regional and national plans and policies, which CEDARE does through our presence in the League of Arab States (LAS) as a strategic partner.
This is specifically carried out through the subordinate organization of the Joint Committee of Environment and Development in the Arab Region (JCEDAR) of the LAS and its affiliated working groups which all fall under the Council of Arab Ministers Responsible for the Environment (CAMRE).
Q: Looking at the gasoline and diesel quality and emission standards in the Middle East, we can see a very fragmented region. How does CEDARE address this issue? Does CEDARE intend to strive for a harmonization between the countries?
A: CEDARE cannot enforce changes but instead it presents studies and evidence-based policy advice to interested parties in the Middle East and Arab Region in order to support the development process toward improved sustainability.
This serves both as support for policy makers and also as means to monitor progress in the region, which we have indeed seen in other fields that we’ve been active in, for example in promoting e-waste recycling and other concepts.
Q: The majority of the neighbouring countries in North and East Africa also show some below-par quality standards for their transportation fuels in comparison to international standards, is CEDARE actively involved in supporting those countries in their future plans as well?
A: Support is provided through offering our service as a platform for and experience-exchange studies such as mentioned earlier, and drawing on our network with other international organizations working in the field that would like to offer or exchange experience in the Arab Region.
Q: Covering a significant range of countries it can only be assumed that you are being challenged with a number of very diverse, political and also commercial obstacles. How are you preparing yourself for this every-day challenge?
A: CEDARE is a very dynamic organization with multidisciplinary staff that efficiently combines strategic partnerships with personal relations in the Arab Region which distinguishes it from other similar international organizations. Having both our international expertise and expertise in the local cultures of respective countries greatly facilitates our work.
Q: The Middle East is the world's largest crude oil supplier but is also seen as underdeveloped in parts as far as the supply of high quality oil derivatives is concerned. A long list of refinery upgrades and investments has been drawn up. What is your view on this? Will the current oil price forecast cause any changes to the plans?
A: Much of the high quality production that is achieved is destined to (and motivated by) export. Better local policies to also demand better quality for local consumption will ensure that the standards in the Middle East are as strict as those in Europe and many progressive countries in Asia. This will in turn ensure that the existing upgrades are not only serving export promotion but also serving the local needs for a better environment.
The same applies to improving policies for cleaner vehicles, since requiring cleaner vehicles is also a strong motive to ensure availability of compatible clean fuel, and therefore a synergy is made between improving air quality and energy efficiency of the transport sector. These are all the messages we strive to disseminate in the Middle East among policy makers and planners.
Q: Thank you very much for your time and effort to conduct this interview with us. Would you like to leave a message for our readers?
A: Our message is spreading success stories about Clean fuel practices in terms of economical and environmental aspects is an important tool for decision makers.