Keith Clarke, the former CEO of the engineering consultancy Atkins, believes Qatar can overcome the ignominious fact that it has the world’s highest carbon footprint per capita and become a leader in green and sustainable technologies.

Mr. Clarke shared his thoughts at a recent lecture series hosted by the Qatar Green Building Council. Similar to what I have been saying for months, Clarke points out the trends unfolding in Qatar: a diversifying economy, growing interest in issues including resilience and climate volatility and codes such as the Qatar Sustainability Assessment System (QSAS).

Obviously huge obstacles confront Qatar’s shift towards environmental stewardship: very cheap water and energy, a mindset affected by sudden wealth and no incentives to change wasteful behavior.

Since raising energy prices is not the political reality, Clarke noted that more can be done. Green building plays a huge role, from the installation of LED lights to smart grid technologies and building retrofits. Systems that allow families to monitor their energy consumption and then compare them to standards would be a start.

I have been criticized for offering similar views, yet I must say Clarke’s assessment is spot on. This is a great time for sustainability professionals to be in Qatar and in nearby countries in the Middle East. With so much low-hanging fruit available that can help Qatar lower its carbon footprint, much work needs to be done. Instead of throwing up their hands in frustration, sustainability and corporate social responsibility practitioners should view Qatar as a massive and exciting opportunity.

About The Author

Leon Kaye

Leon Kaye is the founder and editor of GreenGoPost.com. Based in California, he is a business writer and consultant. His work is has also appeared on Triple Pundit , The Guardian's Sustainable Business site and has appeared on Inhabitat and Earth911. His focus is making the business case for sustainability and corporate social responsibility. He's pictured here in Qatar, one of the Middle East countries in which he takes a keen interest because of its transformation into a post-oil economy. Other areas of interest include sustainable development in The Balkans, Brazil and Korea. He was a new media journalism fellow at the International Reporting Project, for which he covered child survival in India during February 2013. Contact him at leon@greengopost.com. You can also reach out via Twitter (@LeonKaye) and Instagram (GreenGoPost). As of October 2013, he now lives and works in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.