18 Nov, 2012 |
Doha Oasis helps organise march for environment
The Arabs spring into bold climate action and unite for first march in Qatar

Doha Oasis is to lead the first environmental march by civil society organisations in Qatar, at an event taking place during the United Nations Climate Change Conference 2012.

Qataris, Arab partners and international non-governmental organisations will march in the streets of Doha on December 1, to show their support for a solution to the pressing challenge of climate change, protecting the environment, and displaying unity between local, regional and international partners.

“This is part of our commitment as a community to showcase the issue of taking care of the environment,” said Khalid Al-Mohannadi who, along with Noor Al-Thani, founded Doha Oasis, a grassroots organisation working to improve the environment. “We will show how we, as a Qatari community, share common environmental goals with our partners around the world. We are one nation, one Earth,” Mr Al-Mohannadi said.

Doha Oasis is helping to organise the march locally. The group recently concluded successful negotiations with the Ministry of the Interior, which has offered support in the form of emergency health services, security, and traffic coordinators. Those participating in the march plan to gather at 7am on December 1 before marching the 1.3km from the post office to the Sheraton hotel.

The march is a traditional part of the COP process and is a way for civil society groups to raise awareness to their causes.

The main message of the march will be that it is time for Arabs to play a key role in climate change issues. The message fits well with COP18/CMP8 hosted by Qatar, as the country has worked to engage Arab civil society groups to bring them into the conversation in a way never before seen. At the previous 17 conferences only five Arab civil society groups have attended. This year, with Qatar paving the way, organisers are expecting about 50 Arab civil society organisations to attend. In the run up to the conference, Qatar has been holding training and information sessions that are working to build Arab capacity on environmental issues so that they can effectively advocate for the kind of climate change response they would like to see at the negotiations.

Local engagement on the issue has been unprecedented, and Qatari citizens are working to make their voice heard.

“We feel obliged to help our country be a sustainable country,” Mr. Al-Mohannadi said.

Mr. Al-Mohannadi co-founded Doha Oasis with Ms. Al-Thani in January 2011, with the goal of creating synergy and balance between Qatar’s ecological system and national development. The group has 15 managing members and about 300 volunteers who work to build awareness, plant trees, and develop ways to make Qatar more sustainable and environmentally friendly. Its mission is to encourage participation and cooperation among individuals, civil society, and national institutions towards environmental projects and awareness programmes. Members of the group are involved in several projects across Doha, which, among other projects, include the Al Maseela Forest Project, in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, and ‘Tadweer’, the national recycling initiative. They plan to start the Doha Green Belt Project with the Ministry of Environment, which will plant trees around Qatar as a way to cut down on soil and wind erosion.

“This march fits perfectly with our goal of community outreach and engagement. What’s better than this march to facilitate that?” Mr. Al-Mohannadi said.