July 21-23, 2020, Cambridge UK

3 DAYS / 10 Workshops
MORE THAN 200 ACADEMIC PAPERS

Towards a Sustainable Lifestyle in the Gulf

Energy security, global warming, and sustainability are subjects of great interest today, in particular for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which greatly rely on carbon-intensive energy sources such as oil. Despite recent advancements in energy technologies, the energy intensity of GCC countries remains among the highest in the world. This is largely due to inefficient energy consumer choices, such as opting for caroriented ...


Energy security, global warming, and sustainability are subjects of great interest today, in particular for the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries, which greatly rely on carbon-intensive energy sources such as oil. Despite recent advancements in energy technologies, the energy intensity of GCC countries remains among the highest in the world. This is largely due to inefficient energy consumer choices, such as opting for caroriented travel preferences instead of using public transportation, and overcooling apartments or buildings when they are not occupied. Challenges in this area are becoming less ‘technical’ and more ‘human’ in nature, motivating the need to further investigate and determine methods to change current energy use patterns and lifestyles. Unfortunately, efforts to change behavior are often faced with complex, multi-layered, and multi-disciplinary challenges. Overcoming these barriers requires extensive research on the sources of the problem, as well as developing potential solutions, which has been made difficult in the Gulf region due to a lack of literature in this area. This workshop aims to address the research gap identified above by providing a venue for scholars and decision-makers to study the challenges ahead and propose solutions related to the socio- 2 economic, political, and physical dimensions of the problem. The workshop will also address the post-2015 development agenda and the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) adopted at the 2015 United Nations Sustainable Development Summit. Various questions will be tackled such as: How far is the GCC from realizing SDGs? What is truly needed to achieve those goals and transition towards more sustainable lifestyles in the Gulf?  

Background The Gulf countries are facing important energy challenges today, with energy consumption per capita levels among the highest in the world1 . Over the past decade, the typical approach to reduce these levels has been to adopt new energy-efficient technologies in various sectors. One such example is the building sector, where new building regulations, such as ‘Estidama’ in the United Arab Emirates (UAE), impose design standards to minimise the energy demand of newly constructed buildings2 . While technology plays an important role in moving towards more efficient sectors, energy consumption levels continue to remain very high. Projections state that these consumption levels are expected to grow further in the future3 . In recent years, the limitations of technology have guided researchers towards a growing field – the study of consumer energy behaviors and practices. Studies have shown that the actions and decisions of people on a micro-level can have a significant impact – positive or negative – on the macro energy profile of a country or a region4 . Taking public transport, turning lights off when leaving the home or workplace, recycling domestic waste, or installing solar panels to generate clean electricity are some of the examples of behavioral changes people can make to reduce their energy consumption and, thus, carbon emissions. In other words, behavioral decisions involve the curtailment or avoidance of unnecessary energy use and ensure the adoption of clean energy generation technologies and less energy-intensive lifestyles. While a change in consumer behavior can be very beneficial, achieving this change is very challenging for a number of reasons, three of which are explained here5 . Firstly, consumer preferences are complex and dynamic, and they vary among different societies, races, and age groups – as well as differing within each group – due to the evolvement of perceptions and attitudes over time. Secondly, changes in attitudes or perceptions do not necessarily result in changes in actual behaviour. Various factors can create resistance to behavioural changes such as existing and well-developed energy consumption habits. Thirdly, behaviour change can only occur if supported by the appropriate physical, economic, and political infrastructure. For instance, people will most likely take public transportation if the network is well developed, convenient and affordable, and if there have been policies from the beginning to promote this mode of transportation and make it as – or more attractive – than car-oriented travel. Overcoming the barriers mentioned above requires a deep understanding of the roots of the problem. An understanding of the socio-economic and political characteristics of the region under examination is also essential. Finally, researching and evaluating various intervention techniques and methods is also key to devising effective strategies and policies6 . Unfortunately, literature on the topic, especially in the Gulf region, remains very scarce. Workshop Goals The goal of this workshop is to explore the socio-economic, political, and physical challenges to shifting current energy behavioural patterns and transition towards more sustainable lifestyles. This workshop aims to provide a venue for scholars and decision makers to discuss these challenges in the context of the Gulf countries, as well as proposing and debating possible solutions and interventions that should be adopted in the region. The discussion is also expected to bridge the gap in research and explore common grounds between different stakeholders, such as academic institutions and private or public sector entities, who can lead and promote social change efforts. In addition, the workshop will specifically address the key elements that the GCC countries need to focus on in the next fifteen years in order to meet SDGs and thus achieve sustainable development. Moreover, what are the obstacles, priorities, and policies required?




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Workshop

Directors


Dr. Elie

Azar

Assistant Professor -
Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Masdar Campus



Dr. Mohamed

Abdelraouf

Sustainability Research Program Manager -
Gulf Research Center


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