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NATURAL RESOURCE ASPECTS OF SUSTAINABLE DEVELOPMENT IN SAUDI ARABIA

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AGRICULTURE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water is responsible for implementation of economic plans and programs for agriculture, water development, desalination, irrigation, conservation of scarce water, fisheries, animal resources and locust control.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

No information is available

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

No information is available

Status   

Degraded agricultural land is being rehabilitated by supporting diversified food crops, adoption of agricultural crop rotation, construction of draining systems, improvement of crop characteristics by controlled use of fertilizers, containment of soil erosion, monitoring of the problems of salinity and water-logging, construction of dams, and control of desertification, as well as the use of modern means of irrigation.

National companies have been established for development of domestic markets, support for agriculture exports, monitoring the supply and demand sides of agricultural products and surplus, as well as support for establishment of various agricultural industries.

Use is being made of integrated agricultural pest control by introducing pesticide substitutes such as biological, mechanical, legislative and pest-resistant varieties of control techniques, in order to maintain environmental equilibrium. An example is a current successful program for control of red insects on date palms in certain parts of the Kingdom whereby the integrated control approach has produced good results, with emphasis placed on application of preventive safety measures with respect to pesticides through proper optimal storage, use and disposal of waste as well as paying attention to the health of agricultural workers, public and environmental health. Under higher leadership directives, there is noticeable joint activity among a number of government agencies for the investigation and study of limiting the use of pesticides and disposal of hazardous waste, and national networks, a database and autonomous and specialized agencies will be established for monitoring environmental pollution by pesticides and their hazards to public health.

New agricultural land is being reclaimed after assessment and establishing suitability for agricultural utilization. Such land will be allotted free of charge to persons capable of investing in it.

The Government has also participated in activities of committees, conferences and symposia organized by local agencies and international organizations related to enhancement of agricultural production, protection of the environment, national safety and control of illegal trade in pesticides.

Challenges  

Saudi Arabia faces a number of constraints and difficulties which include:

In order to address some of these constraints, Saudi Arabia has proposed a number of measures. The capabilities of research centers should be enhanced and expanded with a view to increasing their ability to find effective solutions to the problems associated with the existing agricultural development, such as extracting plant strains which are resistant to certain ineradicable agricultural diseases and pests as well as improving their chemical and biological resistance.

The establishment of an advanced data base should be accelerated in order to facilitate not only research and the implementation and monitoring of activities related to agricultural production and marketing as well as various environmental affairs, but also production of information regarding toxic chemical materials.

More attention needs to be paid to the support of executive branches, supplying them with trained human resources and ensuring that they have the equipment necessary to improve their services.

Traditional systems of irrigation need to be replaced with modern technology systems of irrigation and more research is needed on safe alternatives to agricultural pesticides and encouragement of environmental less harmful pesticides and fertilisers.

National safety programmes to develop appropriate rules for use, storage, transport and disposal of toxic and hazardous chemical materials need to be accelerated, and encouragement given to exchange of visits and experiences with technically advanced countries in the areas of non-chemical control and use of training possibilities provided by regional and international cooperation programs.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

A number of practical and tangible measures have been taken in realising the recommendations of Agenda 21. Infrastructure for agricultural services has been developed as have human resources working in the agricultural sector through intensification of training, public awareness campaigns, extension services and organisation of agricultural exhibitions.

Mass media is being used as a means of disseminating and updating agricultural information methods with a view to gaining the confidence of recipients, and encouragement has been given to various research projects in areas of agriculture, maintaining continued and close cooperation with research agencies in the Kingdom.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: October 1999.

For information on agriculture and water resources in Saudi Arabia, click here.
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to link to Country and Sub-regional Information on Plant Genetic Resources of the Food and Agricultural Organization of the United Nations.
To access the FAOSTAT Data Base for information by country, item, element and year, click here:
Click here to go to Web Site of the Codex Alimentarius Commission, which includes information on the Codex Alimentarius and the Joint FAO/WHO Food Standards Programme.
Click here to access the Web Site of the Consultative Group on International Agricultural Research (CGIAR).
Click here to access the sixteen international agricultural research centers that are members of the CGIAR.

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ATMOSPHERE

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration (MEPA) is the officially entrusted with the responsibility for protection, preservation and conservation of the Kingdom’s atmospheric environment.

The Ministerial Committee on Environment (MCE) is the highest institutional authority for environment and related issues. It is chaired by HRH prince Sultan Bin Abdulaziz, the second deputy premier and minister of defense and aviation. The relative sectoral ministries included in MCE are Agriculture and Water, Municipal and Rural Affairs, Industry and Electricity, Health, Petroleum and Minerals Resources,  Foreign Affairs, Interior, Finance and National Economy. Other than these ministries, King Abdulaziz City for Science and Technology (KACST), National Commission of Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD) and the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration (MEPA). The MEPA president acts as secretary General for the MCE.

The MCE is the apex policymaking body in the country on environmental issue. The primary objective of the MCE is to formulate a national  implementation plan to accommodate the Kingdom’s capabilities, polices and strategies.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

The central environmental authority, MEPA is responsible for adopting and developing environmental standards, environmental indicators, environmental monitoring programs and carrying out environmental impact assessment.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

The fifth and the sixth Development Plans (1990 – 1995) and (1995 – 2000) respectively, marked the adoption and set the approaches for the Kingdom’s environment and sustainable development program.

Within the framework of a national strategy, plants are gradually stopping the use of certain ozone depleting chemicals such as the chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs), and are shifting to the use of substitute materials in application of the frame of action of the Montreal Protocol and the requirements of Agenda 21.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

The Committee for Coordination on Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) monitors activities of companies related to the consumption, handling, and keeping of such materials, and formulates strategies in accordance with the provision of the Montreal Protocol. An example of the activities of this committee is Saudi Aramco's program for the conservation of cooling materials, which sets mandatory requirements for the handling and re-processing of CFCs. Implementation was recently initiated for a technical program and another for monitoring consumption of chillers in Aramco. The committee has completed consumption projections, and plans to limit, or ban, the use of solvents containing CFCs, and to find alternatives to such ozone-depleting materials. There are similar efforts to use halon gases.

Among the environmental activities and programmes currently being undertaken in Saudi Arabia is the Program for monitoring air quality and the meteorological system. Air quality specifications in Saudi Aramco have been designed according to applicable standards in the Kingdom, which includes:

The company continues to conduct follow-up studies to monitor ancillary facilities, modifications and operation changes that should be carried out in order to enhance the performance of existing facilities. There are now nine stations operating at full capacity in various parts of the Kingdom for the monitoring of air quality and for meteorological purposes. Data produced by these stations are analyzed, compiled into an annual report, and sent to the competent government agency (MEPA) in order to state the level of adherence to applicable specifications and regulations. Construction of the main gas network for collection, refining and utilization of associated gas has led to the establishment of a facility capable of extracting more than 3,500 tons of elemental sulfur per day, or more than 90 percent of the sulfur associated with crude oil. Naturally, this has contributed to improving the quality of air, particularly in the Eastern Province of the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia.

A second activity is the Programme for the study of emissions and their impact on ambient air. This program has been prepared according to engineering specifications applied in the company with the aim of assessing adherence of new projects and enhanced facilities to standards applied in the Kingdom with respect to the quality of ambient air. Projections of the potential impact on the quality of ambient air in a particular area of Saudi Aramco projects are made within the framework of this program, and the results are used as needed in taking measures that ensure reduction of such impact.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

In accordance with Vienna convention and Montreal protocol, several control measures have been taken, some of them are:

1-   Intensive public awareness through different type of media

2-   Educating the ---- staff through workshops training courses in order to qualify them to handle the ODS.

Information   

The Kingdom has been able, through the Meteorology and Environmental Protection Administration (MEPA), to undertake appropriate studies on hazards of pollution, inventory of pollutants, development of necessary environmental standards and measures to protect air and water quality and to deal with hazardous wastes as well as to introduce the principle of Environmental Impact Assessment. The Kingdom, is thus now able to provide more accurate weather observation by monitoring quantitative and qualitative changes experienced by factors of the natural environment of the country. The National Meteorology and Environment Center (NMEC) is one of the largest centers of its kind as far as capabilities, qualified cadres and systems employed are concerned. NMEC was recently named by the World Meteorological Organization as a regional and authoritative center in its surrounding area.

Research and Technologies   

No information is available

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

Saudi Arabia acceded to the Montreal Protocol (1987) and its Amendments, including the London Amendment (1990) and the Copenhagen Amendment (1992), on 01 March 1993.

Saudi Arabia acceded to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change on 28 December 1994.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

Click here for national information from the Web Site of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change.
For the access to the Web Site of the Ozone Secretariat, click here:

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BIODIVERSITY

Status 

Within a short period of time the National Commission for Wildlife Conservation and Development has been able to realize remarkable success, represented by the introduction of many protectorates, research centres and field work related to the rehabilitation of seven species of endangered wildlife.

For this purpose, a number of national parks have been established, such a:

 

* * * 

This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

Click here for the International Centre for Genetic Engineering and Biotechnology Biosafety WebPages
Click here to link to the Biosafety Information Network and Advisory Service (BINAS), a service of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO), which monitors global developments in regulatory issues in biotechnology.
Click here to go to the Web Site of UNEP's International Register on Biosafety.
For access to the Web Site of the Convention on Biological Diversity, click here:
For access to the Web Site of the CITES Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the CMS Convention, click here:
For the Web Site of the Convention on the Protection of the World's Cultural and Natural Heritage, click here:
For the country-by-country, Man in the Biosphere On-Line Query System, click here:

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DESERTIFICATION AND DROUGHT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water (MAW) is responsible for implementation of economic plans and programs for agriculture, water development, desalination, irrigation, conservation of scarce water, fisheries, animal resources and locust control.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

MAW is currently preparing a national strategy and action program for desertification control, and it is planning a booklet on the Kingdom's efforts in the area of desertification control.

Cooperation  

Saudi Arabia acceded to the International Convention to Combat Desertification in Countries Experiencing Drought and/or Desertification Particularly in Africa on 25 June 1997.

An international workshop was held on sustainable use of rangelands and desertification control on November 3 to 6, 1996, in collaboration with the International Fund for Agricultural Development (IFAD).

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

For access to the Web Site of the Convention to Combat Desertification and Drought, click here:

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ENERGY

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans 

Among the objectives identified by the Fifth Development Plan to be accomplished within its five-year duration is the following:

One of the important approaches in the energy and petroleum sector has been the achievement made by the Ministry of Petroleum and Mineral Resources in successfully adopting a policy accommodating collection and treatment of the natural gas accompanying production of crude oil. This trend, introduced for economic reasons, has a positive impact on the environment since it has been possible to get rid of almost all emissions from combustion of huge quantities of gases saturated by sulfur. The produced sulfur will either be consumed domestically or exported.

The Ministry also applies strict environmental standards by which the existing local refineries abided. As a result, the content of lead in gasoline has been reduced as a first step toward a lead-free gasoline for both domestic consumption and export.

Saudi Aramco Company, considered to be one of the world's major oil companies, operates within the framework of sustainable development. The company stresses the application of internal controls aimed at protection and conservation of the environment. Saudi Aramco's plan for the conservation of the environment states that the company guarantees that its operations will not cause unnecessary hazards which damage the environment or the public health, and will be carried out with the upmost care for the protection of the land, the air, and the water from harmful pollution. Each department in Saudi Aramco is responsible for guaranteeing the design and operation of its facilities in compliance with this plan, and ensuring that they will not cause unnecessary hazards to the environment or to public health.

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

For information on energy and mineral resources, click here.
For information on the oil industry, click here.

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FORESTS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water (MAW) is responsible for the implementation of economic plans and programs for agriculture, water development, desalination, irrigation, conservation of scarce water, fisheries, animal resources and locust control.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

-- The Forest and Rangeland Regulations, issued by Royal Decree Number M/22 dated 3/5/1398 H.;

-- The Executive Regulations for the Forest and Rangeland Regulations Number 34931 dated 27/10/1399H, issued by the Ministry of Agriculture and Water (MAW), and concerned with "protecting the vegetation and the land of forests and rangelands, and regulating their use and utilization.";

-- Regulations on 2/7/1399 H, to control violations and institute penalties on violators of the Forest and Rangeland Regulations, issued by MAW and the Ministry of the Interior;

-- Royal Order Number 1182/8 dated 5/7/1405 H, issued to provide for the conservation of forest land and the prevention of any person laying claim to such land; and

-- Royal Order Number 4/3620/M dated 5/7/1407 H, issued to regulate exploitation of sand and pebbles.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

No information is available

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

MAW established 24 enclosures, each with an area ranging between 250 donums and 87,000 donums. Some of these enclosures are designed for rangeland and environmental studies and others as reserves for natural fodder to be opened up for grazing in years of drought. Conservation of such rangelands led to noticeable improvement in vegetation cover and pasture productivity.

MAW constructed 14 silos (warehouses) each with a capacity of about 12,000 tons, distributed over various regions of the Kingdom, in order to store animal feed for distribution whenever needed as part of a plan to create the necessary feed reserve to address years of drought. The total storage capacity of these silos is 168,000 tons of feed. This quantity is adequate to preserve the life of about 3.7 million head of sheep for three months during years of drought (assuming that a head of sheep needs daily one half of a kilogram of enriched feed and some coarse fodder to preserve its life). By establishing such silos and rangeland enclosures, MAW will have insured part of its fodder requirements and protected its living stock wealth against the risks of drought. MAW is engaged in constructing earth embankments and dams in order to spread and distribute surface runoff water over rangelands with the aim of developing vegetation cover and improving the quantity and quality of their pasture production. It has constructed 32 storage and diversion dams on the major wadi (valley) courses. The height of such dams ranges between 2.5 and 4.0 meters, serving an area of about 18,000 donums. MAW also constructed a network of small earth embankments with a height ranging between 75 cms and 150 cm (0.75 to 1.5 meters) along the contour lines perpendicular to the general slope of the area in question (sic). More than 600 contour earth embankments have been c-constructed with a total length of about 200 kilometers, serving an area of 200,000 donums. The construction of such embankments has noticeable improved the vegetation cover of the areas concerned.

MAW imported about 18,000 kilograms of seeds of 52 different species of trees, shrubs, and perennial grass from Australia, USA, Chile, Pakistan, Syria, Egypt and Tunisia. Seeds of trees and shrubs were planted while grass seed were sown in two ways: seed broadcasting and covering after soil preparation and seed drilling (row sowing) along contours. The total cultivated acreage is about 100,000 donums in 16 areas. Degraded rangelands have improved noticeably.

MAW established stations for propagation of species of local range seeds in order to produce adequate sees for various programs. A seed production station has been established at Buseita in the northern part of the Kingdom, where 22 species of perennial range seeds have been planted, which produce about 4 tons of range seeds annually. Some stations are under construction for example one at Shagra in Al-Washam, and others at different other place.

Certain meadows which are characterized by particular plant cover have been enclosed and protected against the entry of vehicles. Their plant cover is being developed with a view to preservation of biological diversity and creation of recreational areas for the citizens.

MAW initiated a survey and inventory of forests by recruiting a specialized company to carry out aerial photography of 70,000 square kilometers of the southwestern part of the Kingdom. Aerial photography and interpretation will shortly be completed for the rest of the natural forest areas.

More than 150 forest wardens have been appointed to control forest areas and report any violations in order that the competent authorities can carry out the procedures provided for in the Forest and Rangeland Regulations.

Trees have been planted in 53 locations of degraded forest land in various areas of the Kingdom in addition to particular afforestation locations for fixing sand dunes. Treated sewage water (wastewater) has been used for irrigation of certain afforested locations in Taif and is being utilized in Riyadh and other areas. Water from dams is currently being used for irrigating certain afforested areas.

MAW has established 30 forestry nurseries in various areas of the Kingdom, with an annual production capacity of about 1,000,000 saplings. The capacity of these nurseries can be increased as needed to produce saplings which are suitable for the various environments of the Kingdom.  

Status   

Forests in Saudi Arabia are considered one of the renewable natural resources that play an important role in the ecosystem of the Kingdom in view of its extensive area and diverse environment. This renewable natural resource provides protection to such areas by preserving the soil from water and wind erosion. It also helps in the distribution of water and control of its flow, and consequently the increased moisture in the soil. In addition, forests have economic, recreational, scenic, tourist and climatic moderating values. The most important problems facing the development and protection of this resource are the following:

A. Harsh environmental conditions: Among the constraints and determining factors which restrict expansion in the forestry development program, particularly in increasing the afforested areas, are the location of the Kingdom in the dry desert belt whose climate is characterized by scarcity of rain, dominance of drought throughout the year, high temperatures especially in summer, and lack of adequate quantities of water or rivers.

B. Felling of trees and shrubs: People in the Kingdom traditionally use wood and charcoal for heating in winter and cooking on (special ) occasions. This is still the custom in spite of the availability of electricity, (butane) gas and other petroleum derivatives at token prices. Felling living trees for the above purposes has caused shrinkage of acreage covered by natural trees and shrubs. To regulate or restrict this process, MAW introduced a licensing system for utilization of dry (dead) plants (for obtaining firewood, for producing charcoal, or for transporting either of these). The impact of these new regulations is evident, as a result of public awareness campaigns on the importance of maintaining trees and shrubs, as well as applying penalties for violators. There are still unlicensed operations of felling and transporting trees and shrubs. Efforts of the agencies concerned should be stepped-up and coordinated to apply this regulation in order to adhere to the rules which aim at protecting natural vegetation resources from extinction.

C. Urban expansion in forest areas: Expansion of residential master plans due to the development boom in the Kingdom, particularly in the southwestern region, caused an overlap of forest areas and urban planning of towns, villages and residential centers, and removal of extensive areas of forest for such purposes.

D. High cost of re-forestation of areas which had lost their natural vegetation cover: Scarcity of water, low soil fertility, high temperature, and low rainfall have all contributed to shrinkage of afforested areas and suitable imported species or similar local species are needed to compensate for lost trees. Provision of all or part of these conditions requires allocation of adequate amounts of money.

E. Shortage of forestry specialists: The number of forestry specialists is considered very low relative to the programs to be implemented in this area, such as the inventory of forest areas, or the evaluation, development or monitoring of such activities.

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

MAW has been training specialized technical staff in forestry and afforestation by availing opportunities to numerous employees to attend specialized courses. The MAW also approached the Ministry of Higher Education to open a Department of Forestry and Rangelands at King Saud University for granting a bachelor's degree in order to meet the increasing need for such specialization. This program was launched in the academic year, 1997-98.

Information   

No information is available

Research and Technologies   

The National Center for Agriculture and Water Research in collaboration with departments and research centers of the Ministry and other scientific institutions in the Kingdom are establishing a bank for collecting and keeping seeds and genetic plant strains in the Kingdom with a view to utilizing them in the development of species and varieties to be grown as well as for the development of both rangeland and forest natural plant cover.

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation  

No information is available

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: October 1999.

 

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FRESHWATER

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water (MAW) is responsible for the implementation of economic plans and programs for agriculture, water development, desalination, irrigation, conservation of scarce water, fisheries, animal resources and locust control. The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) functions as the principal desalination complex.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

With respect to measures for protecting water resources from environmental pollution and the regulations for the conservation of water issued by Royal Order Number M/34 dated 24/8/1400 H, for the effective management and protection of water from pollution, the regulations are enforced by executive regulations allowing MAW to apply measures for the protection and conservation of freshwater to be closely monitored. The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) established a special division concerned with the environment and its affairs within the competence of its General Directorate for Research and Development, entrusted with the study of the impact of the environment on desalination plants, and their impact on the environment, with a view to maintaining the environmental criteria and standards required, in a manner compatible with the developmental responsibilities of the Corporation and enhancement of water resources in the Kingdom.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

From the actual review of Agenda 21 relative to the achievements of the Kingdom in the area of the development and conservation of water resources, it is clear that in certain instances these achievements are at least similar to the proposed solutions, if they do not surpass them. Since water is a vital resource that concerns all agricultural, industrial and construction sectors, there is always a pressing need for continued advancement and development through endorsement of projects and studies proposed in the Sixth Five-Year Plan of the Ministry. If there are constraints, they are embodied in the difficulty of approval of the necessary funds for implementation of the Ministry's plans and projects in the area of water.

Adopting the concept which calls for usage of economic mechanisms and treatment of water as an economic commodity, water pricing for household purposes has been updated and restructured into brackets whereby the unit price of a cubic meter increases with the increase of consumption.

MAW took a number or steps aimed at conservation of water and rationalization of its consumption through limiting the cultivation of certain crops with high water requirements such as grains and fodder, in such a way that production should not exceed self-sufficiency in basic crops.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects   

Emergency programs and plans have been prepared and supplied with structural facilities, for example the construction of (reservoirs) dams for emergencies for most major towns in the Kingdom. In certain locations, their capacity is 1.5 million cubic liters.

This program is designed to uncover potential groundwater pollution at facilities for storage and disposal of waste, at industrial plants, and at surface facilities for the disposal of drainage water from sewage (sprinkler fields), with a view to protection of precious water resources. Groundwater is also monitored in the vicinity of extraction sites with the purpose of management of the quality and quantity of resources in areas of high water tables, and in aquifiers in oil fields, in order to discover possibilities for seepage/infiltration.

Status   

No information is available

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

In application of Royal Order Number 3/B/6096 dated 21/4/1401 H, concerning the necessity for rationalization of water consumption, MAW undertook the following:

With respect to specialized labor force and intensification of training in the area of fresh water, a large number of specialists from MAW participated over the past years in scientific conferences, symposia, and training sessions inside the Kingdom and abroad. SWCC also trained a large number of its employees and new recruits both inside the Kingdom and abroad. The total number of trainees in the Kingdom was 1,722 and those abroad numbered 652 during the period 1410 to 1417 H.

Information   

With respect to water information and its dissemination, MAW has a large database containing information on ground, surface, and rain water, in addition to climatic data. Recently a computer program has been designed for the organization, classification, and processing of information and preparation for dissemination, in addition to available information in the form of detailed water resources studies which are continually updated. MAW has booklets , bulletins, and atlases which are published and disseminated, such as Water Atlas, Soil Atlas, Climate Atlas, and Land Resources Atlas.

When disposing of sewage water, Saudi Aramco generally adhered to specifications applicable in the Kingdom, including: (1) Physiochemical pollutants; (2) Organic pollutants; (3) Inorganic pollutants; and (4) Biological pollutants.

The data collected are analyzed and compiled into an annual report, a copy of which is sent to MEPA to indicate adherence to the applicable specifications and regulations.

Research and Technologies   

The Research and Development Center of the Corporation conducts the necessary analysis to ensure that the plants adhere to environmental criteria and standards, and monitors continually the operation of the plants with respect to smoke emitted and the exhausted water that is returned to the sea as well as the process of handling, keeping and destroying various chemical materials.

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

During the past year, 1416 H, the Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) held a symposium attended by more than 150 specialists from the Kingdom and abroad, on the experience of Japan in re-use of water. The Corporation actively participates in GCC committees, in particular the committee on rationalization of water and electricity consumption, as do representatives from the Ministry of Industry and Electricity, and from the Ministry of Municipal and Rural Affairs (MOMRA); this year (1417 H) there will be a symposium in the Sultanate of Oman on water loss from networks as one way of conserving water.

With respect to transfer of technology related to fresh water resources, the Kingdom is in continual contact with advanced countries in connection with modern technologies related to water resources such as re-cycling sewage water, treatment of salt water, construction of dams, reservoirs and networks, and the use of mathematical models for ground and surface water through active participation in relevant conferences and symposia as well as through joint programs with certain advanced countries where the transfer of technology and training are the most important objectives.

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

For information on agriculture and water resources in Saudi Arabia, click here.

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LAND MANAGEMENT

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water (MAW) is responsible for the implementation of economic plans and programs for agriculture, water development, desalination, irrigation, conservation of scarce water, fisheries, animal resources and locust control. The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) functions as the principal desalination complex.

Programmes and Projects   

MAW completed a study of the land resources of the Kingdom which included the following:

A. Definition and identification of agricultural climatic regions and land resources units.

B. Assessment of vulnerability of these units to the risks of degradation, erosion, salinization, and inundation, which range from light to high risk. 

Under this study, the Kingdom is divided into 3,176 terrestrial units shown on maps of a scale of 1:500,000 and contained in an atlas of land resources which was recently published. Data on the characteristics, specific negative factors, risks, and areas of each terrestrial unit are collected in a computer database (attached is a list of the elements of this database).

The maps are being entered into the computer in order to prepare a comprehensive geographical information system (GIS). MAW plans to conduct detailed studies of cultivated areas with the aim of establishing the negative factors which determine the production of crops, identifying the environmental hazards, and monitoring land degradation with a view to making recommendations which include appropriate farming methods and standards that serve optimal and sustainable utilization of soil and water resources. This program includes identification of areas affected by degradation on maps of a scale of 1:50,000.

Status   

A number of national parks have been established such as Asir National Park, an area of 450,000 hectares, in the Asir Highlands; the Al-Hasa National Park, an area of 4,500 hectares; and the Taif National Park, an area of 50,840 hectares. There are new projects for converting suitable areas into national parks such as Al-Baha, Thumama, Hurayymila, Haysiyya, and Najran.

Information   

The detailed study of cultivated land aims at establishing suitability of various locations for different types of utilization, and will in turn assist in making recommendations on appropriate farming methods with a view to sustainability and increase of production from available utilization options taking into account economic and social variable factors.

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th and 8th Sessions of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: October, 1999.

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MOUNTAINS

No information is available.

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OCEANS AND COASTAL AREAS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Agriculture and Water (MAW) is responsible for the implementation of economic plans and programs for agriculture, water development, desalination, irrigation, conservation of scarce water, fisheries, animal resources and locust control. The Saline Water Conversion Corporation (SWCC) functions as the principal desalination complex.

Decision-Making: Legislation and Regulations  

In order to conserve important coastlines and restore to their natural state those affected, MAW protected shrimp hatching and feeding areas in the Arabian Gulf and in the area of Gizan and the Red Sea. Fishing is banned in the Arabian Gulf from January to the beginning of August, and on the Red Sea from March to August. Both najil and taradi fishing was banned for two consecutive years during the time of propagation, and only this year has this ban been lifted in order to determine the impact of such protection.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

MAW, in cooperation with the Saline Water Conversion Corporation, through the Jubail Station, monitors the marine environment regularly, follows any changes as a result of pollution, and gives early warning.

MAW has set up environmental protection measures designed to restrict the handling of living fish with a view to protecting fish stocks and the marine environment, and to ensure the safety and quality of the Kingdom's fish products.

To encourage environmentally-sound technology, MAW has prohibited and banned all indiscriminate activities of catching fish and other aquatic creatures, such as the use of toxic chemicals and electric shock; designated appropriate mesh sizes for nets, in order to protect small fish; and promoted the use of modern fishing techniques which ensure protection and effective catches designed to reduce secondary fishing and wastage of fish, in addition to the use of modern marine farming systems which take the environment into consideration.

Decision-Making: Major Groups involvement   

No information is available

Programmes and Projects 

For sustainable conservation and utilization of living marine resources under national jurisdiction, MAW established the Saudi Fisheries Company. This is a joint stock company 40 percent of whose shares are owned by the State, and the major part of its interest is in marketing. In record time, Saudi Fisheries had set up 52 outlets for the sale of fish and other marine products. These outlets are designed to the highest standards, where seafood is handled under appropriate environmental conditions that ensure the quality of the product.

MAW has also encouraged Saudi businessmen to invest in industrial fishing projects, and support services on the eastern and western coasts of the Kingdom. At present, there is a total of 7,312 fishing boats, and 2,069 fishermen, in addition to the 11,772 expatriate laborers working on these boats.

Future plans in this area include the following activities:

The company has started the preparation of a number of environmental research/studies in collaboration with local universities and private institutions. Most of these studies are related to the marine environment and are being prepared within the framework of a continuing research project in Saudi Aramco in collaboration with King Fahd University of Petroleum and Minerals (KFUPM). Below is an overview of the three phases of this project, which have been recently been completed.

Saudi Aramco Continuing Research Project:  Marine Environmental Studies - Phase I, 1984-1989

This project covered long-term environment research on certain parts of coastal bays and off-shore areas along the western part of the Arabian Gulf. These studies determined the relative importance of biological creatures. A map was produced on the habitats of living creatures and their quantitative contribution to the local marine ecosystem with particular reference to fishing and the impact of filling and drainage (land reclamation) on these creatures. Oceanographic studies were utilized for the development of a database for the region, preparation of hydrodynamic models to uncover pollution and actual developments that occur in oceans. The final report of the project is composed of 11 parts detailing the research conducted during the period 1984- 1989.

Saudi Aramco Continuing Research Project: Marine Environment Studies - Phase II, 1990 - 1994. 

This project is an extension of the previous continuing research project. The main objectives of these studies are the monitoring of the impact of measures taken by Saudi Aramco with a view to reducing the expenses of the environmental study, the time needed for completion of specific site assessments, future development of the hydrodynamic models, and pollution transfer models. Other tasks included the assessment of changes in the beaches due to filling, monitoring changes related to factors such as oil spills, dredging in coral reefs, producing a detailed map of the habitats of living creatures in the Kingdom's coastal areas along the Arabian Gulf, and designing a model of sedimentation action in the Arabian Gulf. The final report of this project has recently been completed, and it contains 10 parts covering study activities over the four years.

Saudi Aramco Continuing Research Project: Marine Environment Studies - Phase III, 1994-2000. 

Phase III of the marine environmental study is composed of a number of elements designed to meet and address the projected environmental needs before they become major problems requiring high cost. This project will allow for continuity of research on the probable impact of Saudi Aramco operations on the marine environment and allow for conducting research in new areas including identification of primary productivity, studies on the effect of pollution on living creatures, and studies on environmentally-sound methods of disposal of the (waste)-water produced.

Additional research projects underway include the following:

Studies on the marine environment: 

Preparation of maps of the habitats of living creatures: Maps of the habitats of living marine creatures in most of the Arabian Gulf coast have already been prepared. These maps cover areas to a depth of 10 meters, and identify sensitive and productive habitats including mangroves, coral reefs, seabed grass, and mud layers. These maps help in assessing priorities for the protection of the coastline and the habitats of living creatures, and identifying the location of resources during oil spill accidents. Such maps are important for the preparation of environmental impact assessments.

Research on the impact of dredging: 

These research studies aim at assessing which short-term or long-term impacts result from dredging activities during the development of certain coastal facilities. Results indicate that the impact of dredging on the marine environment has generally been a short-lived phenomenon on adjacent areas unaffected by dredging.

Studies on transplanting mangrove trees: 

Very successful studies have been conducted on transplanting mangrove saplings to another type of soil. These trees were propagated in certain areas and produced another generation of plants. One of the objectives of the study is to verify the possibility of rehabilitating mangrove trees in areas affected by oil spills, dredging and in-filling.

Coral reef studies: 

Thirteen species of Arabian Gulf coral have been studied to determine the natural and human impact on this important, highly productive ecosystem. In addition to photographing coral quadrants, cross-sections of fish and large invertebrates are also continually studied.

Minerals traces in Arabian Gulf deposits: 

These studies are conducted to investigate the distribution of traces of minerals in deposits collected from the coastal areas of the Arabian Gulf. Water samples have also been collected and analyzed. One of the main objectives of this project is identifying areas with high concentrations of such minerals and determining the primary reasons for this phenomenon.

Study of fungal life: 

Traces of minerals and content of organic pollutants on shellfish collected from most of the western coastal areas of the Arabian Gulf have been studied. This study has presented a continuing and economical method of assessing the impact of industrial facilities located along coast areas on the marine environment of the Gulf.

Status   

Sustainable Utilization of Marine Resources:

The most important achievements of the fisheries sector with respect to Agenda 21 are the following:

Challenges  

No information is available

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

Within the general plan for increasing efficiency, the Ministry trained and sent on scholarships, a number of its staff; three have obtained doctorate degrees, and five masters' degrees, in addition to the many who attended specialized training courses.

Information   

Strains of certain freshwater fish have been enhanced and acclimatized to living in sea water, and subjected to propagation and breeding, and licenses have been issued to projects for commercial fish farming. Artificial propagation of certain species of shrimp has been successful for improvement of genetic characteristics. Certain species such as nimr and abyyadh shrimps have been released into the sea in order to revive stocks of them. A study has been prepared for re-stocking the Arabian Gulf with shrimp through the establishment of incubators.

Research and Technologies   

See details under Programmes and Projects.

Financing   

No information is available

Cooperation

The UN Convention on the Law of the Sea (1982) was signed by Saudi Arabia on 07 December 1984, and ratified on 24 April 1996.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

To access the Web Site of the United Nations Convention on the Law of the Sea, click here:

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TOXIC CHEMICALS

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Ministry of Health (MOH) takes charge of health care and hospitals.

Programmes and Projects   

Saudi Aramco has initiated a program for the gradual limiting and phasing-out of the use of polychlorinated biohenyls (PCBs) from all electric transformers and capacitor oils in vies of the high toxicity of these compounds. In addition to removal of these chemicals, there plans to replace old equipment containing more than 50 parts per million of PCBs. Company regulations prohibit procurement and installation of equipment containing these compounds.

Capacity-building, Education, Training and Awareness-raising   

The Chemical Emergency Response Team is a task force formed to respond to emergencies such as chemical spills or leakage. Among the activities of this team is frequent training on emergency situations as well as regular training of company staff.

Cooperation  

MOH conducted a specialized national training course in the area of chemical safety, disaster preparedness, and management in collaboration with the World Health Organization (WHO). Officials and specialists from relevant ministries and agencies participated with the aim of developing skills in the areas of chemical safety, the role of curative and preventive medicine in preparedness for addressing chemical accidents, exchange of information, finding a coordinated approach among relevant agencies, and raising public awareness of chemical safety issues. Coordination with WHO is under way with a view to establishing an information network for the environment, chemical safety, and addressing emergencies.

Coordination with WHO is under way with a view to establishing an information network for the environment, chemical safety, and addressing emergencies.

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

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WASTE AND HAZARDOUS MATERIALS

Solid Waste and Sanitation

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Meteorology and Environmental Protection Agency takes charge of meteorology and environment.

Decision-Making: Strategies, Policies and Plans   

Certain plants have adopted the principle of clean production, for example the companies of SABIC (Saudi Arabian Basic Industries Corporation) and those of other basic industries. Plans are in place to achieve this objective.

Information   

New plants with potential impact on the environment have been obliged to conduct studies on environmental impact assessment in adherence to Agenda 21 requirements.

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the fifth session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

 

Hazardous Wastes

Programmes and Projects 

A number of committees and task forces have been formed to study various matters related to the environment and safety with respect to handling and controlling hazardous materials. These include the following:

  1. The Committee for Protection Against Radiation: This committee is charged with the safe handling, storing, and disposing of radioactive materials.
  2. The Chemical Emergency Response Team: This team is a task force formed to respond to emergencies such as chemical spills or leakage. Among the activities of this team is frequent training on emergency situations as well as regular training of company staff.
  3. The Committee for Coordination on Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs): The Committee for Coordination on Chlorofluorocarbons (CFCs) monitors the company's activities related to the consumption, handling, and keeping of such materials, and formulates strategies in accordance with the provision of the Montreal Protocol. An example of the activities of this committee is Saudi Aramco's program for the conservation of cooling materials, which sets mandatory requirements for the handling and re-processing of CFCs. Implementation was recently initiated for a technical program and another for monitoring consumption of chillers in Aramco. The committee alternatives to such ozone-depleting materials. There are similar efforts to use halon gases.
  4. The Committee for Hazardous Materials: This Committee gives opinions on plans for the appropriate use and disposal of all hazardous materials. It participates in the preparation and execution of such plans. Among the terms of reference of the committee are oversight and coordination of the relevant committees and task forces formed for this purpose, such as the above-mentioned committees charged with the control and management of hazardous materials. The committee also acts as an umbrella to ensure effective coverage of all stages and matters related to hazardous materials.

Company operations produce both human and industrial waste. Solid waste resulting from human use is disposed of in approved hygienic waste-disposal facilities, whereas industrial waste is normally screened and handled according to acceptable practice in the industry. Saudi Aramco has always stressed the development of safe procedures for handling hazardous materials, and reduction in the waste produced. The company has implemented the following projects:

The Program for minimization of waste aims at minimizing the waste produced by plant operations through reduction of waste at source, modification of the manufacturing process, replacement of the materials used, separation of waste, and better management as well as reuse and re-processing of waste. At present, depending on its nature, Saudi Aramco handles waste in a number of ways, such as impoundment, treatment of waste, aeration, and storage.

Impoundment in categories 1 and 2 are both used for the disposal of environmentally inactive and non-toxic solid waste as well as for certain hazardous materials that do not constitute a threat to groundwater such as asbestos, chemical catalysts used in refineries, and expired medical materials. Industrial waste from Saudi Aramco plants is handled by a number of contractors who use both impoundment categories, 1 and 2, for disposal.

Small quantities of oil sludge produced in company facilities are treated in waste treatment units constructed for this purpose in numerous locations.  Tetra-ethyl lead sludge produced in benzene tanks is a particularly hazardous toxic, and water-soluble material. This sludge is treated in a special facility where tetra-ethyl lead is oxidized, converted into inorganic lead with low toxicity which is insoluble in water, and impounded by the category 1 method.

When the above-mentioned methods are inadequate for safe disposal of hazardous materials, certain materials may be stored in surplus chemical warehousing and handling facilities until a suitable way is found to dispose of them. Detailed procedures and guidelines formulated by the company provide for waste handling, monitoring and control.

The Environmental assessment program is concerned with implementation of Saudi Aramco's plan for the protection of the environment. It is designed to provide company departmental managers with assessment of the adequacy of the environmental performance of their facilities, and of their adherence to applicable environment regulations; and to submit solutions and proposals for implementing essential environmental improvements economically. The scope of action of the program covers primarily areas of air quality, solid waste, and hazardous chemical materials, as well as the prevention and control of oil spills. The program includes assessment of environmental hazards in each facility. It conducts surveys of these facilities to determine adherence to regulations applied; carries out joint monitoring in order to solve environmental problems; and follows up implementation of recommendations prepared by the survey team. At present, more than 40 environmental assessments have been successfully completed on exploration, production, refining and distribution facilities.

Research and Technologies   

Existing environment activities and are basically related to monitoring of the quality of air and wastewater, management of hazardous materials, and response to accidents of oil spills. They also include assessment of Saudi Aramco operations, study of the marine environment, protection of groundwater sources, and determination of adherence to the regulations of the company and of the Kingdom.

Cooperation

Saudi Arabia signed the Basel Convention on the Control of Transboundary Movements of Hazardous Wastes and their Disposal on 22 March 1989 and confirmed and ratified it on 07 March 1990.

Saudi Aramco is a founding member of a number of regional and international organizations concerned with oil spill control activities. Among these organizations are the Organization for Join Cooperation of Oil Companies Operating in the (Arabian) Gulf, which is concerned with the protection of Gulf resources in face of oil pollution, and the Oil Spill Services Center in the United Kingdom, an organization which renders response services to oil spills worldwide.

 

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.

For direct link to the Web Site of the Basel Convention, click here:

Radioactive Wastes

Decision-Making: Coordinating Bodies    

The Committee for Protection Against Radiation has been charged with the safe handling, storing and disposing of radioactive materials.

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This information was provided by the Government of Saudi Arabia to the 5th Session of the United Nations Commission on Sustainable Development. Last Update: April 1997.


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