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KFAS signs funding agreements on two environmental research studies

The Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) has signed funding agreements for two environmental research studies for the Environment Public Authority (EPA).

The two KFAS-funded projects, set to be carried out by the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR), come in line with the Foundation's 2017-2021 strategy which prioritizes environmental initiatives and projects, KFAS Director General Dr. Adnan Shihab-Eldin said at the signing ceremony.

One project tackles shifting sands and shoreline erosion along the northern strip of Kuwait Bay in the Ghadhai region, while the other takes on means of developing the Kuwaiti implementation plan on Stockholm Convention on Persistent Organic Pollutants.

Dr. Shihab-Eldin noted that the Foundation is interested in funding these two projects due to the fact that they cover two topics that are perceived as national priorities. Notably, the Foundation funded, over the past five years, 35 environmental studies and projects, valued at some KD 2 million focusing on desertification, air quality, water pollution, environmental wellbeing and biodiversity, he added.

He asserted that the first project aims at assessing hazards affecting the northern strip of the Kuwait Bay with a special focus on protecting planned installations in this region that is home to active wind and water erosions as well as rich wildlife.

The second one, he added, is tailored to conduct full assessment of the organic pollutants enlisted in the Stockholm convention, and how to lay out a national plan to put the treaty into effect. Signed in 2001, the Stockholm Convention is an international environmental treaty that aims to eliminate or restrict the production and use of persistent organic pollutants (POPs).

Dr. Shihab-Eldin also asserted that KFAS is keen to enhance cooperation with KISR and the Environment Public Authority (EPA), along with other government institutions and private sector companies as part of its 2017-2021 strategy, which focuses on three key thrust areas: advocating a scientific culture, enhancing R&D capacity in Kuwaiti scientific institutions, and building a sustainable innovation ecosystem for businesses and individuals.

Noting that the signing ceremony has coincided with the nationwide celebrations of Kuwait’s 58th Independence Day and the 28th Liberation Day, Dr. Shihab-Eldin recalled the tireless efforts exerted in the past to put out the oil fires ignited by Iraqi occupation troops after the Gulf War in 1991, and the resulting severe damage to Kuwaiti environment in the later years.

Meanwhile, EPA Director General and Chairman Sheikh Abdullah Al-Ahmad Al-Humoud Al-Sabah commended the "fruitful" trilateral cooperation between the EPA, KFAS and KISR, noting that this joint effort would bear fruit upon the completion of the two environment-oriented projects, due to the importance of their research findings at the local and international levels.

The first project aiming to address the environmental challenges threatening the northern strip of the Kuwait Bay, specifically in Ghadhai region, is perceived as a national campaign to tackle the hazards resulting from drifting sands, flash floods, and coastal erosion, Sheikh Abdullah Al-Sabah said.

The second which focuses on outlining a general framework for the Kuwaiti implementation plan on the management of persistent organic pollutants (POPs) identified in the Stockholm Convention has an international dimension, reflecting Kuwait's commitment to meet its obligations to the international treaty. It also meets the national need to establish a database on POPs in Kuwait and a guideline on how to process them as stipulated in the convention, he noted.

He went on to say that the EPA is heavily reliant on scientific research to explore the most appropriate solutions for Kuwait's environmental challenges, that's why the it is always pleased to turn to KFAS for cooperation in funding its environment-focused projects and to KISR to carry out its commissioned studies.

KISR Director General Dr. Samira Al-Sayed Omar, who was also in attendance, praised the joint approach by the three parties to help Kuwait fulfill its obligations under the Stockholm Convention on POPs by mapping out a national implementation plan to eliminate dangers resulting from these pollutants.

Omar pointed out that Kuwait is already hosting the regional West Asia Center for implementing the Stockholm accord at KISR’s headquarters, noting that it serves as a link between Arab countries in Asia and the Geneva-based General Secretariat of the Stockholm Convention to follow up its implementation.

She also emphasized the importance of the project for the adverse effects of the persistent organic pollutants on human health and their negative impact on economic and social development.

KISR is strongly keen on supporting EPA's efforts to protect Kuwait's environment and meet the requirements of the Stockholm Convention fully and without delay, she asserted, urging the country's official bodies to play an active role towards this end in cooperation with the project team.

The project will kick off with the launch of a national database on POPs in Kuwait and an orientation campaign on the regulatory requirements needed for the implementation of the Stockholm Convention, Omar said. The campaign would also aim to raise awareness about the procedures, activities and practices to be carried out to develop the national implementation plan in Kuwait, she concluded.