Guest Post: A National Vision of a Sustainable Future
Qatar has something every country needs. I’m not referring to oil or natural gas, although Qatar has both in abundance. I mean a national vision of and strategy for sustainable development.
In less than a generation, Qatar has experienced huge economic and social transformation. The discovery and development of its hydrocarbon resources has fuelled – pardon the pun – Qatar’s economic growth from a small nation dependent on fishing and pearling to one of the highest per capita income countries in the world.
In the face of that rapid expansion, however, new challenges have emerged. Qataris now need to balance modernization with the preservation of values and traditions, a priority in a country where 80% of the people are expatriates. They must also figure out – as we all must – how to achieve economic and social equity for present and future generations while protecting environmental health.
Recognizing these challenges, Qatar embarked on an initiative to define the characteristics of the country’s future. The State established the General Secretariat for Development Planning, which undertook multi-stakeholder consultation across Qatar. The Qatar National Vision 2030 is the product of that initiative.
The Qatar National Vision 2030 rests on four pillars: human development; social development; economic development; and environmental development.
The human development pillar encompasses development of all Qatar’s people to enable them to sustain a prosperous society. In particular, the Vision recognizes the hydrocarbon resources upon which the country now depends will eventually run out, and Qatar must in future be prepared to succeed in a knowledge-based and extremely competitive world order. Thus, the Vision sets out three main outcomes for the development of Qatar’s human resources: an educated population; a healthy population; and a capable and motivated workforce.
The second pillar of the Vision, social development, recognizes the importance of family as the basis of Qatari society. The social development outcomes articulated in the Vision are social care and protection, a sound social structure, and international cooperation.
The economic development pillar of the Vision seeks to assure long-term sustainable prosperity by encouraging optimal use of the country’s finite oil and gas resources to generate financial wealth that can be invested in infrastructure and human and social development – read future renewable wealth. Sound economic management, responsible exploitation of oil and gas, and suitable economic diversification are the desired outcomes.
The fourth and final pillar of the Qatar National Vision acknowledges the need to balance economic and social development with environmental protection. The Vision recognizes the need for increasing environmental awareness and establishing a robust legal framework for environmental protection. It also addresses the need for urban development planning, pollution prevention, and climate change mitigation.
Together, these four pillars provide a foundation for the development of a national strategy to achieve the Vision. Last year, the first National Development Strategy was issued, for the five years from 2011 to 2016.
One of the most interesting things I’ve seen during my time working in Qatar over the past few months is how many companies and individuals are taking the Qatar National Vision seriously. So seriously, in fact, that they are actively trying to figure out how they can contribute. My clients, for example, have been trying to align their business plans and strategies with the Vision’s four pillars. Recently, the Pakistan Professionals Forum Qatar held a seminar to discuss how Pakistani professionals could contribute to the realization of the Vision. I even found a copy of a special publication celebrating the Vision in the seat pocket of a Doha taxi!
(Perhaps it helps that the Emir explicitly articulated his expectation that the private sector, civil society, and all Qatari citizens will play a role in helping to achieve the goals of the Vision.)
It remains to be seen how successful Qatar is in achieving its Vision.
Nevertheless, Qataris are not leaving their future to chance. This is sustainable future by design.
To download the Qatar National Vision 2030, click here.
To download the Qatar National Development Strategy 2011-2016, click here.
The Qatar Tribune’s January 11, 2012 article about the Pakistan Professionals Forum Qatar seminar is here.