Qatar has an extreme climate, fragile ecosystems and a high dependence on non-renewable energy. But that’s starting to change thanks to an NGO that wants to combat climate change.
SustainableQatar is a “think and do tank” that promotes environmental awareness to combat climate change with action-based knowledge and mind-changing solutions – amplifying efforts to reduce the environmental footprint in Qatar. The community behind it wants to show that an individual can make a difference, but a team can create a miracle.
“We are creating powerful personal narratives of how everyone can contribute to making a difference and reducing our collective carbon emissions.” – Katrin Scholz-Barth
The volunteer-based organisation shares actionable knowledge and encourages collaboration between individuals, groups and government sectors to take environmental sustainability action – through the website, email campaigns and social media platforms.
It was started in March 2008 when a small group of thoughtful committed people; educators from Qatar Foundation, the American School of Doha and Qatar University decided that they wanted to help people to live more sustainably in Qatar and to build an active, engaged and participatory society focused on environmental sustainability in the peninsular Arab country.
Today, under the leadership of president Katrin Scholz-Barth (pictured above on the right of the banner), their vision is to be a resource that empowers the community to environmental action by fostering awareness, skills and knowledge. Additionally, they provide a platform for networking to promote collaboration between diverse members of Qatar’s population to enhance environmental sustainability.
“While it can be challenging to operate an ambitious volunteer organisation throughout the years in a transient community like Qatar, we continue to draw inspiration from our volunteers,” Katrin explains. “The rich and unique backgrounds and experiences everyone brings is a real asset that allows us to mobilise more people, to bring sustainability actions to life and to make a real difference.”
Interestingly, for two weeks in October 2919, Katrin set sail around the world to collect, research and ultimately fight ocean plastics and toxins, as a crew member on Leg 1 of an all-female Round-The-World eXXpedition.com Sailing Voyage. The women sailed from Plymouth, UK, to the Azores, Portugal, on the heels of Hurricane Lorenzo in unforgiving weather conditions in an already notoriously challenging part of the sea.
“It was relentless. Storm after storm. Now, the real work starts to share the newly gained knowledge and keep lobbying for research-based solutions at the source. Realising the vast amounts of microplastics in our oceans and completing the voyage has been the hardest, most challenging and most uncomfortable adventure in my life to date.”
Katrin wants to inspire people to make small changes by participating in the different activities and programmes, like the 52 Weekly Challenges, where weekly practices can take us to a more environmentally friendly life.
Smart gardening, shorter showers, car sharing, smart driving and reduce the amount of packaging are some of the tips that they want us to follow this new year.
During COVID-19 lockdown, SustainableQatar also launched the #ShareAThobe campaign to meet the urgent need for face coverings. The volunteers requested for old thobes and dress shirts to help make masks, using every scrap of the leftover fabric pieces and reducing the wastes generated from clothing.
The NGO’s next big milestone is to favorably position Qatar as the host for the first-ever carbon neutral FIFA World Cup in 2022. Did you know that, by 2030, Qatar has set the goal of attaining 20% of its energy from solar power?
AtlasAction: To show your personal commitment and to amplify the message, take a photo of your weekly action and post it on social media using hashtags #SustainableQATAR #52Challenges. For more details about the Leg 1 journey of eXXpedition, click here.
Katrin Scholz-Barth, President
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