Sustainability Management: Eng. Bodour Al-Meer
If you follow the news or have had any presence on social media platforms during the last few years, you must have at least heard of the term “Sustainability”. Even so, do you know the meaning behind the term or the scope of its effects on the future of our human race?
We wouldn’t blame you if you didn’t. Sustainability is widely misrepresented as only relating to protecting the environment, which is true, but also an oversimplification of the term. Major economic and social aspects interact with the environmental one to create what we now call sustainability, as evidenced by its adopted definition: “Fulfilling the needs of current generations without compromising the needs of future generations, while ensuring a balance between economic growth, environmental care, and social well-being.”
Unfortunately, even though previous models of human development had clear negative impacts on the environment, the UN-led efforts to establish international cooperation on fighting environmental pollution and resource depletion did not come to fruition until the beginning of this millennium; when agendas were set to seriously think about these issues and tackle them seriously. In 2015, the UN General Assembly adopted the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development that includes 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). They encompassed three main principles: economic, environmental, and social. The time frame for achieving these goals extends to 2030, which does not sound so far now, but are we making progress on this front?
You should appreciate the criticality of these efforts if you knew that just 70 years ago, in the 1950s, only 3 billion people walked the earth, while now we’re quickly closing in on 8 billion people! This rapid increase in population puts a great strain on the availability of natural resources like water, energy, and food, as well as proves catastrophic by exacerbating pollution and climate change, along with all their accompanying phenomena: desertification, floods, forest fires, etc.
Sustainability is our only hope in salvaging our home planet and protecting its habitability and future. Thus, growing voices continue to call for governments to consolidate SDGs within their national development policies and strategies, which in turn requires legislative and executive efforts to enforce. The private sector had to join. As new generations became more conscious of the impact their consumption has on our planet, sustainability models have become a trend in corporates’ social responsibility efforts and, more importantly, in their marketing schemes!
On a more local note, Qatar has always been a strong proponent of sustainable development, both locally and globally, as evidenced by Qatar National Vision 2030 and the efforts to align national development strategies with the UN-adopted sustainable development goals.
Hosting the FIFA World Cup Qatar 2022™ clearly demonstrated Qatar’s commitment to sustainable development, while it introduced the Qatari society to the concept. The Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy adopted the most comprehensive strategy in World Cup history, as standards of unparalleled scope were implemented in human, economic, and social development. It will be a legacy bound to influence future event organizers in their efforts toward sustainability.
So, what does a career in the field of sustainability look like? It is one of the widest fields of work, as it includes engineering, environmental science, sociology, administration, economics, and much more. Similarly, many sectors now employ sustainability professionals in what has become known as “Green Jobs.”
Of these varying career options, we chose to talk with a Sustainability Manager, a role with dynamic responsibilities that may even differ from one organization to the other but generally holds the same objective: to design and implement sustainable development strategies for the organization, and execute initiatives and programs accordingly, while monitoring and evaluating the progress in implementation, effect, and economic feasibility of the strategy, all done in a localized context, and within local needs.
To find out if a career in sustainability fits your aspirations, read more about SDGs and the three sustainability principles. You can also search LinkedIn for the keyword “Sustainability”, or “Green Jobs”, and scan the different listings available and their roles and responsibilities.
Hamad Bin Khalifa University (HBKU)’s Master of Science in Sustainable Environment offers one of the best academic opportunities in the field of sustainability in Qatar.
Eng. Bodour Al-Meer
Sustainability Executive Director
Supreme Committee for Delivery and Legacy
I graduated from Qatar University’s Department of Mechanical and Industrial Engineering. I then worked for more than seven years with Occidental Petroleum in the Health and Safety department, which is heavily involved with protecting not only the well-being of employees but also the environment. Through this role, I became interested in preserving the environment and sustainable development. I also accumulated a lot of experience in strict environmental requirements, interactions with government regulators, and an ultimate focus on protecting the environment while ensuring operational and business success.
My family encouraged and supported me to become an engineer, despite my inclination toward developing my creative and artistic sides. But given how my career has progressed, the logical processing and the strong technical focus have been what I mostly carried across.
Being a woman in a technical field is a big challenge. I had to work much harder than my male peers to show that I was technically capable, as well as responsible in my commitments to budget, scope, and project management. In many senior-level meetings with decision-makers or stakeholders, I have been the only woman or one of the few, which wasn’t always the most comfortable situation. Much has changed, and we still have a long way to go to be seen as equal contributors in the workplace.
As for my current job, the Supreme Committee’s Sustainability Program shoulders a great deal of responsibility because the FIFA World Cup represents the nexus of sustainability, sports, and event organization. My role is to ensure that we implement our FIFA World Cup Sustainability Strategy. We have committed to organizing a carbon-neutral tournament; to having sustainably designed, built, and operated stadiums; to managing air, water, and waste sustainably, all while protecting our country’s natural, cultural, human, and social environments. Of course, this comes in stages, and we are currently at a later stage where we focus on ensuring that the tournament will run sustainably.
Through our stringent sustainability requirements in construction, we now have a national construction market that has learned to operate and provide sustainable materials, new sustainable construction management processes, and design considerations. In addition, our sustainable procurement requirements for all services that will be provided for the tournament, shaped the service market, and made it adapt and respond to these requirements. Moreover, through operating a sustainable tournament, we now have the capacity in the country to continue delivering a sustainable level of service in all future events. This knowledge and experience may become our biggest legacy.
What I love most about my job is that we can make a difference and bring about change! We get to have a legacy impact! It’s also a continually progressing field, so we are always learning and improving. And we’ve only just begun; through Qatar National Vision 2030 and all the sustainability commitments and changes we’ve seen in almost every sector of the country; we have a lot of work ahead of us. For this to work, we need engineers, entrepreneurs, social and human development program experts, project managers, procurement and financial experts, communication experts, and our youth to genuinely care about protecting our country and planet for all future generations.
To help me commit to this ambition, I had the inspiration of my role model who, without a doubt, is Her Highness Sheikha Moza bint Nasser. Her active engagement and focus on development, education, science, and the Qatari community, as well as communities in need worldwide, are inspiring. She’s a true change-maker!
Finally, I encourage those aspiring to work in sustainability to learn as much as possible about new solutions and approaches to solving potential issues that can have various impacts. You must be committed and patient; if you care about the world around you, this could be an excellent career choice.