31 July, 2011

The Middle East, North Africa and Environment

MENA - EPI rankings 2010
Unbelievably: the earliest known writings on environmental pollution and degradation are in Arabic. Before the rest of the world, the Middle East and the Islamic world were at the forefront of environmentalism. Arab and Muslim scholars and thinkers, were concerned with air contamination, water contamination, soil contamination, solid waste mishandling and many other environmental issues. And yet today, most countries in the Middle East and North Africa are some of the worst performers when it comes to environmental rankings.

In last year's Environmental Performance Index (EPI) which ranked 163 countries on 25 performance indicators tracked across ten policy categories covering both environmental public health and ecosystem vitality. The 2010 Environmental Performance Index draws upon ten years of research, six previous environmental sustainability reports and compiles the feedback of more than 70 governments and hundreds of policymakers from around the world. Most Arab and Muslim countries, scored between 40 and 55 - out of 100. It seems, people and especially leaders in the region, have not woken up to today's pressing need for effective environmental ethics and policies. Yemen ranked 124th, with a score of 48.3; and yet, the UAE, with all its wealth and 'economic progress', scored even lower - 40.7 and ranked at 152nd, at the bottom; so do most of the Gulf countries - all scored very poorly.

The struggle for the improvement of our political and governing systems; the fighting against corruption; the construction of the 'largest' malls and the 'tallest' buildings; all these should go hand-in-hand with the protection and conservation of our environment and natural resources. Time will come when the mighty rivers that flow in the region will recede in water; time will come when oil and gas will be depleted and earnings from these will be of little help. Time will come when we will very much regret the way we are now: misusing water, exterminating our animals and plants; and the way we are polluting our environment. With the very fast growth of population here; and the continuing rise in food prices and shortages of food; we need to; we have to protect and conserve our environment and natural resources. 

+ Islamic Foundation for Ecology and Environmental Sciences
+ Fazlun Khalid: Using faith to save the environment
+ Early Islamic Medical Manuscripts