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Environmental Issues in Kuwait

Environmental awareness in Kuwait is poor. Littering and dumping occur on a daily basis. Kuwait has some way to go in educating the wider population about the importance of protecting the environment.

However, the approach to conservation and the environment is slowly improving. There are a number of local organisations passionate about the environment who are working hard to protect their natural surroundings and educate the community.

Nature reserves include the Jahra Pools Nature Reserve, the Doha Peninsula Nature Reserve in Sulaibikhat (Kuwait Bay) and the Sheikh Sabah Al Ahmed Nature Reserve in Subiya. There are no marine reserves, although there continues to be interest in protecting a number of the islands, Kubbar in particular.

Kuwait has extremely limited natural fresh water resources and therefore operates some of the world’s largest desalination plants.

Air pollution is on the increase due to the increased traffic levels, and the emissions from local oil refineries and oil wells. Air quality is continually recorded by the six monitoring stations located throughout the country.

The region’s marine environment has been under considerable pressure from the effects of the dumping of oil and by-products during the Gulf War, as well as from the significant industrial and urban growth. A third factor is the discharge from tankers and oil platforms.

Official bodies include ROPME (Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment, formerly know as the Kuwait Action Plan), KEPS (Kuwait Environment Protection Society), KISR (Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research) and the EPA (Environment Public Authority). NGOs actively involved in protecting the environment include the Kuwait Volunteers Centre, Kuwait Dive Team and the Kuwait Bird Monitoring and Protection Team. There is an annual reef clean-up, usually held in September.

Kuwait is party to international agreements on biodiversity, climate change, desertification, endangered species, environmental modification, hazardous wastes, law of the sea (1986) and ozone layer protection, and has signed two treaties prohibiting the development and use of weapons modifying the environment. A marine dumping agreement has not been ratified. The only people who seem ‘interested’ in recycling are the poorly paid, unskilled labourers who are often seen collecting cardboard and tin cans in order to supplement their income.




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