Three Keys to a Sustainable Future in the MENA Region

Three Keys to a Sustainable Future in the MENA Region

By Manuel Rodrigues, Vice President for Schneider Electric’s Secure Power division in the Gulf region

In a world grappling with the exigencies of climate change, the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region faces its own unique set of challenges.

Substantially affected by climate change, the MENA region has witnessed a consistent decline in income per person. The repercussions of climate disasters have been profoundly detrimental to economic growth, with vulnerable groups bearing the brunt of the impact. 

Climate adaptation in the region, however, cannot be reduced to a one-size-fits-all solution, given the diverse range of climates, capacities, and vulnerabilities. It is essential to universally adopt a strategy that marries climate adaptation with medium-term growth agendas.

Progress in the Gulf

In an attempt to minimize the impacts of climate change, the UAE and Saudi Arabia have emerged as MENA’s frontrunners.

The UAE, which has announced an investment of US$54 billion in renewable energy by 2030, has pledged to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050.

Digital Transformation’s Role in Energy Efficiency

As energy is being rapidly redefined by renewables, the power of digitalization is proving to be a key catalyst for energy efficiency. Smart buildings, vehicles, and industries can integrate new sources of flexible load, allowing enhanced integration of renewables and stronger energy security.

In the MENA region, Schneider Electric's dedication to sustainability has manifested in several initiatives.

With urbanization across the region intensifying and the demand for digital lifestyles and more intelligent industries escalating, we are seeing an increased demand for data center investments and expansions.

Time for Collective Action

As the region confronts the escalating challenges posed by climate change, it is encouraging to witness the earnest efforts of countries like the UAE and Saudi Arabia alongside the private sector, taking significant strides toward sustainability. However, this is not the time for complacency.

Collaboration between the public and private sectors is indispensable. The ambitious targets set by countries need the muscle and agility of the private sector to turn them into reality.

A notable case of public-private collaboration is the ongoing partnership between the UAE's Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT and Schneider Electric, aimed at enhancing energy efficiency in the industrial sector.

The importance of community engagement cannot be overstated. Grassroots-level education and awareness are fundamental to ensuring that climate adaptation and sustainability are embraced by society at large.

Moreover, investments in research and development are pivotal. Whether it is developing new renewable energy technologies, devising efficient water management systems, or inventing sustainable materials, the region must not just adopt but also contribute to the global knowledge pool.

We should also not forget that climate change has no borders. The MENA region must actively participate and engage in international forums and initiatives. Sharing experiences, best practices, and even resources can catalyze global efforts.

The road ahead is not easy; there will be challenges and setbacks. However, the perils of inaction are far greater than any hurdles we may encounter.

Sustainability Middle East News