Yesterday's afternoon session of the Gulf Environment Forum (GEF) focused on the analysis of costs, tangible benefits and return on investment for companies adopting sustainability strategies. The forum, held in Jeddah for the 3rd consecutive year, is a platform to voice new eco-friendly strategies as main driving forces to encourage enterprise development.
General Manager of FT Arabia engineering and environmental consultancy Eamon Timoney, Chairman of Ghalayini for Trade & Turnkey (GTTK) Mona Ghalayini, Senior Investment Officer of the International Finance Corporation (IFC) Erick Becker and Senior Business Development of the IFC Infrastructure Department Saad Alrayes were the main speakers.
Engaged in eco-friendly practices, these businessmen brought examples from their personal experiences and illustrated the advantages of using environmental conservation strategies to ensure enterprise development.
One of the founding partners in 1990 of Irish environmental consultancy Fehily Timoney (FT) and General Manager of Saudi Arabia's FT Arabia, Timoney stressed the country's growing awareness on environmental issues and presented two case studies within the private and governmental sectors to highlight the costs and energy saving benefits of introducing environmental management systems.
"In 2008, our company started to develop concrete corporate social responsibility adopting various measures. First of all we installed ISO 14001, a program specifying requirements for an environmental management system to minimize organizations' negative impact on the environment. We then started awareness training and followed simple but very effective rules such as reducing the number of printers, printing double side, minimizing water and electrical usage and separating waste," explained Timoney.
"Translating strategy into action and reducing in few years our waste (45 percent) and the consumption of water (57 percent), electricity (38 percent) and paper (31 percent) allowed us to save more money and contribute to energy conservation," he added.
Lebanese businesswoman, industrialist, entrepreneur and environment activist Ghalayini focused her intervention on the ethical reasons that should motivate and encourage firms to go green. Firmly believing in the necessity to improve social life while reducing environmental risk, Ghalayini has initiated her own building/construction business following environment, water treatment and renewable energy strategies.
"All kinds of health, environment, economic and unemployment problems related to an increasing population, resources and particularly water shortage, carbon emissions and climate change should represent an ethical stimulus to invest in green building technology, green transport systems and green agricultural products," said Ghalayini.
"These goals can only be achieved intensifying awareness campaigns, finding more funds for the private and public sectors and defining new policies and technologies," she added.
Senior officers at the IFC, a corporation member of the World Bank Group, Becker and Alrayes explained their organization's role and objectives and analyzed environmental and ecological costs of power generation in the Kingdom.
"IFC is the largest multilateral source of loan and equity financing for projects of the private sector in the developing world. The corporation provides advices and technical assistance to both businessmen and governments," explained Becker.
"Our aim is to invest in emerging markets in Africa, Asia, Latin America and the Middle East establishing long-term relationships. As concerns Saudi Arabia we feel a potential for cooperation mainly in the green sector. The country is in need to increase its green economy and we are eager to finance and offer technical assistance," said Becker.
"IFC has already offered its advisory for the construction of the Madinah airport and to help Riyad Bank improve social and environmental sustainability. Thanks to its 8 performance environmental standards, which also constitute the base for the Equator Principles adopted by 75 of the world's leading banks, IFC defines support conditions for its clients," said Alrayes.