Chairing the COP18/CMP8
In line with the Kyoto Protocol, the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change’s Conference of the Parties had been meeting every year since 1995. In its 18th year, Fahad gets to chair the convention in Doha, the capital of Qatar.
It was not free from controversy, as Qatar is said to be one of the leading countries of high carbon emissions because natural gas is their main source of revenue. But for Fahad, hosting the COP18/CMP8 would make their stand clear on the issue of climate change. Carbon emissions make the world hotter, and cause dry places like Qatar to become drier; cooperating with the rest of the world will be the key to addressing Qatar’s food insecurity.
Qatar’s Lack of Food and Water
Qatar is now home to 2 million people, although Qataris only comprise 13% of the population, or about 300,000 people. Before natural gas was discovered in 1939, Qatar was not a nation; its nomadic people roamed the desert to look for water. Communities did not exist because resources were too scarce.
In his TED Talk, Fahad tells the story of his father and mother having dissimilar accents. This was due to people not sticking together for lack of natural resources, and thus developing different dialects. Since the 1940s, the population has increased drastically as their economic capacity has increased by 15% every year. From having an average lifespan of only 50 years old, Qataris’ improved quality-of-life has brought it up to 78 years old.
This economic boost also resulted in higher demand for food and water. As they are a rich country, investing in technology was not a problem. Qatar also desalinates almost 100% of its water. Before the population began to expand rapidly, the much smaller Qatari population depended on aquifers for water; as they earned more income, the country was able to develop state-of-the-art technology to make water scarcity a thing of the past.
But for how long can they elude the water and food crises? As their population keeps growing, they depend more on imported goods. Their land is all dunes – it’s impossible to farm, save for a small part of the country where it can be done at a push. They are still not self-sufficient, even with the help of technology. To grow their own food, they must be able to fertilize their land and have better access to water.
Fahad’s role as the Director of the National Food Security Program is to ensure that Qatar will be ready to grow its own food by 2030, sixteen years from now. So far, two years of research have proven that they can desalinate water using hectares of solar panels so they need not use precious oil and put their monetary security in peril. This will be sustainable and environmentally-friendly at the same time.
Some experts frown at his optimism, claiming it would be wiser to simply invest in growing food where land is already fertile; such has been the practice of other Middle Eastern countries. But Fahad is adamant that he will not only solve his country’s dilemma, but also become a role model for other Arab countries by “putting resources on research.” He is out to prove that, with proper equipment and a heavy dose of courage, they can liberate themselves from food and water scarcity.
Fahad served in the Royal Military Academy from 1998 to 1999. He completed his law degree from the University of Westminster, and served as a Legal Advisor in the Office of His Highness the Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar.
Organizations and Programs Supported
- National Food Security Program
- Legislation Council of Qatar
- State of Qatar’s Permanent Water Resource Committee
- Qatar 2022 National Legacy Committee
- Board of Governors for the World Water Council
- National Vision 2030
- United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC)
- Kyoto Protocol
- Conference of the Parties
- NAMAs (Nationally Appropriate Mitigation Action)
- Global Dry Land Alliance
Awards and Achievements
- 1998-1999: Served in the Royal Military Academy
- 2005: Completed his law degree at the University of Westminster
- 2008: Began serving as Chairman of Qatar’s National Food Security Program
- Serves as member of the Legislation Council of Qatar
- Served as the Chairman of the Higher Organizing Sub-Committee for COP18/CMP8
- Served as a Legal Advisor in the Office of His Highness the Heir Apparent of the State of Qatar
TED (Fahad Al-Attiya: Food security expert)
TED Talks (Fahad Al-Attiya: A country with no water)
Keynotes (Fahad Al-Attiya)
QNFSP (About Us)
LinkedIn (Fahad Al-Attiya)
QNFSP (Print this page What is food security?)
Al Jazeera (Q&A: Organiser of Doha COP18)
Singapore International Water Week (Fahad bin Mohammed Al-Attiya)
Trend Hunter (Using Solar Energy to Produce Water)
The World of Energy (QATAR Attaches Great Importance to the Future Generation… Fahad Al Attiyah)
COP18 (Qatar signs formal deal with UN to host climate conference)
Time (Desert Dreams: Can the Middle Eastern Country of Qatar Learn to Feed Itself?)
SPNL (COP18/CMP8 President debate highlights The Hima system)
NPR (In Gas-Rich And Fast-Growing Qatar, A Focus On Food Security)
COP18 (Growing Qatar planning its long term water supply)
Gulf Times (Food, water issues dominate royal visit to Al Safwa farm)