Because Bahrain is so small, the island state is almost easy to ignore. Except that it is a financial hub for the Persian Gulf States, and therefore exerts a certain amount of influence.
Hence, a sustainability conference sponsored almost exclusively by companies such as Chevron, Air France, Kanoo Plastics, and PJ Investments (HK) Asia – despite its environmental film component – is laden with unhappy irony.
Of all the Gulf States, Bahrain has actually been quite sensible.. Whereas many oil profits worldwide have been pocketed by wealthy businessmen, Bahrain used theirs to build a decent infrastructure. To improve, more or less, quality of life for its residents.
Bahrain’s fishermen who have lost their way of life as a result of development may disagree, but overall, the country’s leadership has been relatively progressive. At least they have prepared for the day the oil runs out.
This is, in part, what makes the upcoming “First World Environment Summit” to be held at the Ritz Carlton Bahrain Hotel And Spa at the end of January so disappointing..
Apart from the UNDP, almost all of the sponsorships (which comes with a certain amount of “ob”) come from the banking and fossil fuel industry.
Some of the keynote speakers are fairly impressive, for example Jordan’s Royal Highness Princess Basma bint Talal, who has a long history of supporting strong environmental initiatives in her home country.
Then we have China’s Environment Minister. Although that country has advanced a fairly stout green technology program, few countries have embarked on as ruinous an environmental agenda as China.
Pamela Peeters, a New York based sustainability expert, has selected a series of film clips – being dubbed the Sustainable Planet Film Festival – that will be shown on January 28th.
Following that, a gala dinner featuring an award ceremony will close the summit, including The Crystal Environment Dilmun Award for a company or individual who made a significant contribution to environment and sustainable development in Bahrain.
This conference smacks of a tree-saving ceremony that celebrates by cutting down trees. Glaringly absent are genuinely sustainable participants – representatives from companies such as Enviromena that support alternative energy or Vestas, for example.
:: Trade Arabia
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