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I. Policies and General Principles of Environment Protection

Recognizing the importance of the development and environment, and desiring to develop long-term solutions for the environmental problems emerging from the developments that have occurred in the GCC States, beside the poor integration between the development and environment plans, and inspired by the great similarity of the development and environmental conditions at the GCC States,

The Supreme Council (6th session, Muscat Summit, 1985) adopted the document of “ The Policies and General Principles of Environment Protection at the GCC States” to be the basis for developing strategies for the future environmental activities in the GCC States. Those policies contained several principles, the most important of which are the following:

(1) Adopting a comprehensive concept of environment, which includes all surrounding media such as water, air, land and all elements therein such as inanimate things, plants, animals, natural systems and processes and human activities, as well as developing a law based on this concept for environment protection.
(2) Establishing and completing the legislative and coordinating bodies, supporting the executive bodies in charge of the implementation of the regulations, rules and standards of environment protection and providing the capabilities of observation and surveillance.
(3) Taking into account the environmental considerations and making the environmental planning an integral part of the comprehensive planning in all industrial, agricultural and constructional fields, and adopting the environmental assessment of projects and subjecting their licenses to the approval of the authority in charge of environment protection.
(4) Developing and unifying rules, legislation and standards required for the protection of environment and rationalizing the utilization of natural resources and conservation of wildlife.
(5) Coordinating the efforts made by Member States to prevent the adverse effects of the development and industrialization projects
(6) Observing the environmental outcome of the projects set up in other countries with foreign aids from the GCC States
(7) Promoting the community's awareness of the environmental issues and fostering the sense of individual and collective responsibility for environment conservation.
(8) Proving the Labor Force in charge of the environment affairs and supporting the training plans.
(9) Compilation and exchange of regional and international information on environment and utilizing such information for the planning process.
(10) Encouraging scientific research to identify the environmental problems and preparing a directory of the available expertise in the field of environment protection.

First Action Plan

Pursuant to those policies and principles, the Ministers in charge of environment affairs at the GCC States have adopted the first action plan that included the following:

Surveying the environment protection bodies in order to identify their structures, organization and powers
Diagnosing the common and similar environment problems at the GCC States
Compiling and reviewing the environmental standards, laws and legislation at the GCC States and making recommendations for completing and unifying them
Surveying the environment awareness programs in the various media and education at school curricula
Compiling the researches and studies conducted by Member States and regional and international organizations, circulating such researches and studies and proposing translation of some of them.
Compiling the specialized educational and training programs and the implementing agencies at the GCC States, developing methods for improving such programs and utilizing them by Member States as well as proposing any required new programs.

II. Environmental Laws and Legislations

Furthering to the policies and general principles of the environment protection adopted by the Supreme Council, and supporting the efforts of the GCC States in enacting environmental laws and legislation that aim at protecting man's health from the adverse effects of water, air and soil pollution, several reference laws have been developed within the framework of the joint environmental action. The most significant of those laws are the following:

1. The General Environment Protection Law: A comprehensive framework incorporating the basic rules for environment conservation and protection. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council (Muscat, 1995).
2. The Common Law for the Environmental Assessment of Projects: The Law aims at observing the environmental impact of the various projects to prevent their adverse effects on environment, natural resources and development. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council (Muscat, 1995).
3. The Common Law for Protection of Wildlife: The Law aims at developing legislation for the protection of wildlife, both plants and animals, growing them at their habitats and rehabilitation of the environmentally affected areas. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council (Kuwait, 1997).
4. The Common Law for Handling Radioactive Substances: The Law aims at protecting man's health and environment from the hazards of radiation and radioactive substances and applying the acceptable limits of radiation pollution in foodstuff and animal fodders. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council ( Kuwait, 1997).
5.The Common Law for Waste Management: The Law aims at protecting man's health and the various environmental components from the hazards of the solid and toxic waste through sound management. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council (Kuwait, 1997).
6. The Common Law for the Management of Hazardous Chemicals: The Law aims at controlling the practices of the Management of Hazardous Chemicals at the GCC States. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council ( Muscat, 2001).
7. Coordination of procedures among Member States for trans-border handling of hazardous waste for the purpose of processing, recycling or disposal. These procedures aim at enabling Member States to utilize the existing facilities at any Member State for processing or recycling of hazardous waste. These procedures were adopted by the Supreme Council in1997.
8. The Common Law for the Management of Healthcare Waste: The law aims at developing an adequate approach for controlling the production, sorting, storage, handling, processing of healthcare waste, and disposing them in a safe manner in the GCC States. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council (Muscat, 2001).
9. The environmental criteria and standards for the quality of air and water and the controls thereof; the objective of these criteria and standards is to identify the pollution levels at the internal and external environment in the GCC States. These criteria and standards were adopted by the Supreme Council (25th session, Manama, 2004).
10.The Common Reference Law for Controlling the Ozone Depleting Materials: Objective of the Law is to eliminate the use of Ozone depleting materials and substituting them with safe alternatives according to Montreal Protocol and amendments thereof. The law was adopted by the Supreme Council (Abu Dhabi, 2005).

Recognizing the serious impact on environment and natural resources in GCC Member States resulting from industrial and urban development operations and the need for sustained development without prejudice to the environmental considerations, the Supreme Council (28th Session, Doha, December 2007) approved the Green Environment Initiative entailing the GCC Environment Action Pact and implementing plan thereof.

The Secretariat, in cooperation with Member States, is developing programs and activities for the Green Environment Initiative within a short-term and long-term plan. Thus, the GCC States will have presented a leading integrated model for achieving integration between comprehensive development and environment conservation. The Final Declaration of the Supreme Council (14th session, Riyadh, December 1993) stressed the importance of the joint environmental action for converging policies , unifying environment laws and legislation, enhancing national and regional capacities, training of Labor Force, raising environmental awareness among citizens and conservation of natural resources. The Final Declaration of Zayed Summit (Manama, December 2004) also reiterated that conservation of environment and its renewing natural resources and the protection of wildlife are essential factors for achieving sustained development that aims at improving the conditions and welfare of citizen at the GCC States. The Declaration has called Member States to adhere to the balanced development action.

III. GCC Disaster Control Center

Like all civil communities, GCC Member States face several dangers that threaten the lives of human beings and environment. These dangers need to be identified and managed in a manner based on modern scientific methods. Given the increased risks that surround GCC States both internally and externally, and the wars and crises which the region has witnessed over the past three decades, it is imperative for GCC States to adopt a state-of-art administrative technique so as to predict all natural risks such as earthquakes, sand storms as well as industrial risks such as explosions, leakage of hazardous materials into the atmosphere or seawater or even those risks caused by sabotage and pre-planned acts.

Hence is the importance of establishing a center for confronting such disasters and supporting decision-making in GCC States based on the state-of-art technology in this field in addition to the efficient utilization of available material and human potentials and capacities and creating appropriate tools for risk management. Therefore, the Ministerial Council, at its session held in Jeddah on 5 July 2007, decided to establish the GCC Disaster Control Center. The proposed center aims at establishing a base of researchers and specialists in the field of pre-planning for dealing with disasters (Emergency Plan) and providing the decision-maker with the scientific facts prior, during and after the occurrence of these events in the light of which appropriate actions will be taken at the least costs and most efficient potentials then available.

The elements and components which the center depends on are as follows:

Compilation and gathering available information on the history of past risks and the way they were treated
Identification of risks threatening the country which may not occur within international limits such as accidents of nuclear plants, power generation plants, leakage of chemicals and hazardous materials and oil
Assessment of potential risks of natural disasters such as rainstorms, sandstorms and regional and international wars
Analysis of the risks that may result from pre-planning through application of mathematic modeling of simulated disasters

The Ministerial Council decided that the State of Kuwait would host the Center and that the Kingdom of Bahrain would take up presidency of this Center.

IV. The GCC Award for the Best Environmental Work

Inspired by the "General Policies and Principles of the Environment Protection" adopted by the Supreme Council (6th session, Muscat, 1985), the Ministers in charge of Environment Affairs (1994) assigned a periodical environmental Award for encouraging environmental works and individual and collective initiatives that contribute to the environment protection and conservation of its components. The Award also promotes creativity and invention, at individuals and institutions level, in the field of environment protection and development, and dissemination of education and environmental awareness among the GCC citizens. The Award includes five parts: The best environmental research, environmental awareness, environment identity, the best educational/research institution that serves environment and the best industrial institution that adheres to the environmental standards and criteria at each Member State.

V. Environmental Awareness

In integration with the efforts the GCC States are making in the field of developing awareness programs, introducing environmental education at all education stages; including organizing forums, workshops, panels and other meetings at the national and regional levels, the GCC, in cooperation with the Joint Program Production Corporation for the GCC States and with private sector funding, has produced 30 TV episodes about various environmental topics and the environmental hazards threatening the environment of the GCC States. It’s worth mentioning that the GCC States have benefited from celebrating the various Environment Days, such as the Regional Environment Day, the Arab Environment Day, the International Environment Day, the International Day for Protecting the Ozone Layer and the International Day for Biologic Diversity, in developing special programs for promoting environmental awareness. The GCC States have also included many environmental concepts in the education curricula that help individuals acquire the values, trends, skills and facts needed for understanding the complicated relationships between Man and Environment and urge individuals and society to conserve the natural resources and utilize such resources for the good of mankind, which would consequently preserve man’ life and improve his living level.

Given the importance of promoting environmental awareness and education, the ministers in charge of environment affairs have agreed to organize "Environment Week" in the GCC States in February every year. The ministers have also agreed to organize an annual environment forum for youth with a view to enhance the sense of responsibility for the preservation of environment and natural resources.
VI. Cooperation with the Organizations and Economic Groupings

The GCC States cooperate with all organizations concerned with the protection of environment and the maintenance of its natural resources. The most important organizations are: the Regional Organization for Protection of Maritime Environment, the EU, the Regional Office of the UN Environment Program (UNEP) for Western Asia, the Executive Council of the Arab Ministers in charge of environment affairs, ESCWA and the secretariats of certain international agreements. There is also a continuous coordination with the Regional Organization for Protection of Maritime Environment in the activities and projects related to the protection of maritime environment, mainly cooperation and coordination in the field of constructing facilities for receiving the equilibrium waters in the GCC States and participation in the ministerial and technical meetings of the Organization.

As to the EU, many cooperation programs have been completed during the first phase of the EU-GCC Joint Work Program, such as establishing a wildlife conservatory at the city of Jubail, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia, exchange of experts’ visits, organizing joint workshops in the field of oil-polluted sea environment, management of hazardous waste and air pollution, in addition to the EU contribution to the financing of the advisory study on setting up reception centers for ships remnants in the GCC States and funding the drafting of the Protocol on Biologic Diversity of Sea Life in the region.

In 2007 and 2008, two meetings for the GCC-EU climate experts were convened in preparation for subsequent meetings to be held in various environmental fields pursuant to the decisions of the joint ministerial council.

VII. Multi-lateral Environmental Agreements

The GCC States have signed or accepted more than 33 regional and international agreements and conventions in the field of environment and the protection of wildlife and natural resources. The agreements on biological diversity, protection of the ozone layer, climatic change, drought control and international trafficking in endangered species are among the agreements that have drawn the attention of the GCC States and in which the GCC States have achieved considerable success in the application of some of them. Given the importance of these agreements, the GCC States have formed a working team for each agreement to follow up the relevant developments with a view to maintaining the interests of the GCC States at both the regional and international levels. The most important agreements that were signed or accepted by the GCC States are the following:

1. Vienna Convention on the Protection of the Ozone Layer, and Montreal Protocol and amendments thereof
2. The Agreement on Conservation of Immigrating Wildlife Species
3. The Convention on international trafficking in endangered species
4. Basel Convention on hazardous materials and trans-border movement thereof
5. UN Convention on Biological Diversity
6. UN Framework Agreement on Climatic Change and Kyoto Protocol
7. UN Drought Control Convention
8. Kuwait Regional Convention on Protection of Maritime Environment and protocols thereof (1987)
9. Convention on Control of Vessel-related Pollution
10.Convention on Control of Sea Pollution (London Convention 1972)
11. International Convention on Overseas Intervention (1969) and protocols thereof (1972)
12. Agreement on Civil Liability in Maritime Claims 1976
13. UN Convention on Maritime Law
14. Agreement on Civil Liability for Oil Pollution Damages
15. International agreement on establishing an international fund for Compensation of Oil Pollution Damages
16. PIC Agreement
17. Convention on Prohibition of Production, Use and Storage of Chemical Weapons and Destruction thereof
18.International Agreement on whales
19. International Agreement On Plant Protection
20. Agreement on Permanent Organic Pollutants (POPs)
21. International Agreement on Wet Lands (Ramseur Agreement)
22. Agreement on the Protection of International Heritage
23. Regional Agreement on Conservation of Wildlife and Habitat thereof at the GCC States