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DUBAI: February 14, 2019. A new report published at, and in conjunction with, the World Government Summit this week says Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC) countries can save US$138 billion by 2030 if they adopt a circular economic model.

According to the Ideation Center, a PWC think-tank affiliate, under the prevalent linear economic model the region is depleting its resources at an accelerated rate - generating unprecedented waste and emissions that are causing “enormous” social, economic and environmental damage.

Circularity concrete GCC“GCC countries need to move away from the current linear model described as ‘take, make, use, waste,’ declared Ideation Center partner Marwan Bejjani. “For instance, the region’s households are responsible for the highest consumption of electricity in the world, while their gasoline consumption per capita compares to that of North America, the region with the most intensive usage of gasoline. This is not sustainable, so there is a pressing need to move to an alternative economic model before it is too late.”

In 2016 GCC recycling rates ranged from 10 percent in Saudi Arabia to close to 30 percent in Abu Dhabi, much lower than the EU average of 46 percent in the same year.

At present the GCC construction sector overwhelmingly uses conventional building methods that produce 35 to 40 percent of the waste in GCC cities compared to 25 to 30 percent in the EU.

The Ideation Center, as has already been promulgated by the Ellen MacArthur Foundation, says a GCC circular economy framework should be governed by three principles: Optimize the consumption of finite resources by sourcing renewable materials; design products that can be disassembled, reused, repaired, and/or upcycled; and use resources efficiently.

Yahya Anouti, principal with the Ideation Center Middle East, explained: “Incorporating circular principles into building construction and use, the way we transport people and goods, and consume products and utilities, the region can save US$23 billion in the built environment, US$69 billion in mobility, and US$46 billion in consumer habits between 2020 and 2030. [And an] extraordinary 150 million tons in C02 emissions, virtually the total emissions of the Netherlands in 2015.”

Anouti added that to make circularity work in the GCC would require coordinated implementation, financial incentives to encourage the right behaviour, and public awareness campaigns targeting both citizens and corporations.

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