To cite this publication: Mari Luomi, “Qatar’s Natural Sustainability: Plans, Perceptions, and Pitfalls,” CIRS Occasional Paper no. 11 (Doha, Qatar: Center for International and Regional Studies, 2012).
This paper analyzes Qatar’s present and future challenges relating to natural resources and environmental sustainability through the concept of “natural sustainability,” which is defined as the use of natural resources in a way that ensures prosperity for humans and the environment, presently and in the future. By doing so, it proposes an alternative standpoint on sustainable development. The paper asks three broad questions: How is the relationship between development, economy, and the environment understood by different actors in Qatar? What implications do these different views have for planning and definition of desired outcomes in the areas of natural resource use and environmental sustainability? What can a more environment-centered focus contribute toward solving the existing unsustainabilities of development in Qatar and the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC)? By refocusing attention from the economy and growth to the environment and its limits; and from technology and efficiency to institutions, people, and resourcefulness, Qatar and the GCC states might be able to avoid an impending collapse stemming from their fast exacerbating natural unsustainability.