by Bridget McDonald, Ph.D.
What do we do when we know that billions of people depend on energy that is currently being delivered in the form of fossil fuels, whether oil, natural gas, or coal, and the demand for clean energy has never been greater? The answer is to partner with the world’s leading sustainable energy engineers, gather up-to-the-minute knowledge of trapping carbon emissions, and responsibly use renewable energy faster than fossil fuel reserves can be depleted. Effective use of renewable energy in many cases means creating infrastructure for these forms of energy, whether geothermal, solar, wind, tidal/ocean/hydro-power, biomass (biodiesel, ethanol, biogas), methane/landfill gas recovery, or hydrogen, among other sources. Our globe will be well on its way to climate stabilization by 2035 if we reduce carbon emissions by 2/3 and engage in massive reforestation efforts along with aggressive carbon sequestration.
In our rush to clean up twenty-first century energy production and delivery, we find ourselves accidentally, but naturally, looking back to the past and to ancient, reliable means of producing energy that sustained entire civilizations, for example to Roman aqueducts that are still used today, channeling the weight of water for distribution in countries like France. Windmills spin globally, having been used for centuries in the Middle East and Europe, gravity-based steppe agriculture thrives in Eurasia and Russia, igloos made of and surrounded by ice still manage to keep Inuit and other populations warm. Our ancestors achieved what nations everywhere are calling for today: carbon free energy independence.
As important as it is to urgently and responsibly develop renewable energy infrastructure from windmill fields to solar-powered villages, existing energy efficiency depends on landscaping for energy and water conservation as well as local organic food production, the preservation of bio-diversity by protecting green space and wildlife with enforced legislation, sustainable waste management including alternatives to incineration, widely available family planning tools, protected education, shared knowledge via open data systems, and cross-cultural understanding through communication. In the name of all these ideas which ultimately make peaceful societies possible, a dynamic group in Bahrain is taking bold inclusive steps forward in support of corporate responsibility worldwide. What better way is there to help mega-companies be responsible than hand them an executable road map – always in progress based on current research – developed by the experts?
In the geographical heart of our world’s leading suppliers of non-renewable fuel, from February 9-11 2015, the 2nd Bahrain International Corporate Social Responsibility Conference and Exhibition takes place in the Kingdom of Bahrain’s capital city Manama. Gathering together will be environmental sustainability leaders from Bahrain, United Arab Emirates, Australia, Dubai, Portugal, Finland, Hungary, Kuwait, Palestine, Saudi Arabia, Czech Republic, South Africa, Bangladesh, Malaysia, India, the Netherlands and other countries. Delivering one of the keynote talks is Ms. Habiba Al Marashi, President and CEO of the Arabia Corporate Social Responsibility Network, the first multi-stakeholder platform advocating corporate social responsibility and sustainable development across the Arab world. Another speaker is engineer A. Majeed Al Gassab from the Bahrain Society of Engineers, who represents the Kingdom of Bahrain in the World Federation of Engineers Environment Committee, a standing committee of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.
Organized by Bahrain’s National Oil and Gas Authority, as well as by the Bahrain Society of Engineers, this Corporate Social Responsibility conference shows a Bahrain that is choosing to lead by example, to share knowledge, and evolve responsibly in an interconnected global community. Even top conservative economists and many oil companies now advocate reducing fossil fuel CO2 emissions by taxing carbon-polluting oil, gas, and coal industries with a gradually rising price on carbon where all collected revenue is eventually returned to citizens. We can all give thanks to the country of Bahrain for hosting this most-needed conference. Everyone knows that with great riches comes great responsibility.
Oil magnates certainly have the means to live privately sequestered from the world’s chatter, and yet at this conference, the intention is that everyone be represented and dialogue equally at the table, and, at the very least, share and make available to all the latest knowledge to help corporations worldwide be more responsible. Notably, there are three practical workshops for C-level executives, managers, directors and decision makers including a Workshop on Fundamentals of CSR (corporate social responsibility) led by Arabia CSR Network, a Workshop on CSR Strategy & Leadership led by Arabia CSR Network and a workshop about Social Return on Investment, led by Alexandre Lemille. These fact-filled problem-solving hands-on workshops award certificates of attendance to participants.
Coordinated by Ms. Sumam Jovan, this informative conference sports a dazzling array of sponsors who no doubt are eager to participate and bring money-saving tools back to their companies: The Bahrain Airport Company, Equate Partners in Success, The Bahrain Petroleum Company, Arab Potash Company PLC, Alhi United Bank, GPIC, Samref, OCP, Sabic, MCSC, Tasnee, and others. Under the patronage of the Kingdom of Bahrain’s Minister of Energy, H.E. Dr. Abdul Hussain bin Ali Mirza, this conference will equip participating representatives with the latest strategies and guidelines for sustainable growth.
Our work is cut out for us and the timing of this conference could not be more urgent. The UN Environment Program brings our attention to a mass extinction of life currently under way in which 200 species of plant, insect, bird, fish and mammal become extinct every 24 hours. At the same time that our world population has doubled in recent years, so the animal population has been reduced by half. In other words, 50% of all wildlife on planet Earth has vanished in just forty years. These devastating trends at 1,000 times the natural rate are unsustainable if we are to preserve a habitable planet. The formation of local renewable power providers, or CCA’s — community choice aggregation — offers an alternative to reliance on polluting power plants.
In a vibrant pulsing modern world linked by freeways, airways, waterways, railways, and mobile technologies where a single voyage can deliver a passenger from a dirt foot path on a bike to a car, bus, train, ship and aircraft and back again in one day, every individual needs to do their part to create her and his own sustainable lifestyle. Our responsibilities as individuals include speaking up about the creation of a safe livable future. We can speak to friends, family, clergy, schools, universities, law makers, media, governments and businesses using our voices, our influence, and social media. We can invest in green technologies, stop using pesticides and fertilizers, recycle, upcycle, repurpose and reuse, reduce our consumption of water, energy and meat, choose to carpool, walk, bike, and hike, and support shops and businesses that go green. When we individuals do our part, we are meeting corporations half way and together can bring about positive lasting sustainable change.
In 2015, the Bahrain International Corporate Social Responsibility Conference (BICSR) kicks off a year of compelling conferences. Some other key sustainability events this year include:
April 13-14, 2015 Venice, Italy: XIII International Conference on Environmental, Cultural, Economic and Social Sustainability https://www.waset.org/conference/2015/04/venice/ICECESS
June 11-June 14, 2015 Kobe, Japan: The Fifth Asian Conference on Sustainability, Energy and the Environment 2015 ACSEE 2015 http://iafor.org/iafor/conferences/acsee2015/
Sept 27-Oct 3, 2015 Dubrovnik, Croatia: The 10th Conference on Sustainable Development of Energy, Water and Environment Systems – SDEWES Conference http://www.dubrovnik2015.sdewes.org/
Nov 28-Dec 4, 2015 Kyoto, Japan: World Engineering Conference and Convention – WECC 2015 http://www.congre.co.jp/wecc2015/about/index.html
Bridget McDonald, Ph.D. is President of the Women’s International Center, a member of Women in Engineering, part of the WFEO World Federation of Engineering Organizations, a standing committee of UNESCO, the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization.