Speech by Dr. Mubashar Riaz Sheikh on the occasion of the Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management System Enhancing Air Quality Compliance and Management Workshop

24 Sep 2013

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Mr. Ali Al Omair, Member of the Kuwaiti National Assembly, and Chairman of the parliamentary Committee for Environmental Affairs,
Excellencies,
Ladies and Gentleman,
Distinguished guests,

Welcome to the UN house and the Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management System program workshop. The discussion over the next two days will be very important to the State of Kuwait and the health of its citizens and residents as we meet to discuss Air Quality in Kuwait and how we can manage it effectively. We are gathering here today to learn about the progress achieved in the development of the Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management System (KIEMS) in relation to Air Quality Management in Kuwait.

Air quality affects all of us here in Kuwait. Haze and smog is now a common scene – obscuring the visibility and threatening our health every day. As leaders and professionals in air quality, we should be able to address those environment and health challenges with scientific methods and best practices from around the world.

We have with us today an esteemed group of scientists, engineers, managers, and policy makers from throughout Kuwait. You bring your combined expertise and knowledge together for the first time in Kuwait to create a sustainable air quality management program that address air quality in some industrialized zones and sets the measures to address health and pollution issues.

UNDP has been very proud to be able to assist Kuwait Environmental Public Authority (KEPA) under the Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management System (KIEMS) program in developing their next phase of environmental management programs. The AQMIS “Air Quality Management Information System” provides the computing tools needed to manage the thousands of emission sources in Kuwait and provide information on air quality to decision makers. This tool leverages the latest best air quality management practices will soon be emulated for water, hazardous waste, and bio-diversity in Kuwait through other projects.

Since its commencement in December 2011, the Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management program (KIEM) has achieved tremendous results in a short period. The Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management System (KIEMS) project consists of UNDP consultants working directly with Kuwait Environmental Public Authority (KEPA). Since starting in December 2011, they have achieved significant results including the introduction of new regulations for Air Quality in Kuwait.

Kuwait’s environmental regulations are codified under Decision 210. The regulations affecting air quality were recently updated under the KIEMS program. Article 76 established new ambient air standards. It requires the establishment of a Kuwait Implementation Plan to bring areas of non-compliance, or non-attainment into compliance, and plans to keep areas in attainment from deteriorating.
Article 79 established requirements for stationary sources including a permit program for stationary sources, reviews of new sources based on the air quality zone they are located in and reporting of hazardous air emissions.

These new articles ensure the compliance of Kuwait’s international air management requirements. They require identifying air quality zones in Kuwait based on micro climate patterns, not political boundaries. They require extensive monitoring of areas that have never been monitored. To this day, the bulk of air monitors are on the coast, with no information on the air quality around the borders with Iraq and Saudi Arabia. This needs to be corrected in order to properly account for emission contributors to local air quality in Kuwait.

One thing we have learned from successful air management programs around the world is that you cannot manage without data, plan without models, or manage without clear understanding of the requirements. Kuwait Integrated Environmental Management program KIEMS has helped Kuwait Environmental Public Authority KEPA do just that. The new Air Quality Management Information System (AQMIS) will allow nationwide capture of emission sources to allow management at the source level, based on the location of the source and the ability of the operator to meet realistic emission standards.

The AQMIS will allow rapid implementation of the Kuwait Implementation Plan by identifying sources, operators and permitted emission levels. KEPA can now undertake long range planning of how new projects will impact air quality by modeling existing sources as well as new sources in one effort.

Kuwait Environmental Public Authority KEPA can now respond to incidents such as the recent tire fire in Amghara (pronounced Am-Gh-raa) and the Well Blow out in Rawdatain (pronounced Row-da-tain) last year by identifying dispersion patterns and impact to the community. Policies and decisions can be made based on facts and data, not perception.

The AQMIS gives KEPA the toolsets it never had, to manage our most challenging resource – the air. The goal of AQMIS is to provide KEPA with the capability to have a national emissions inventory, a source permit program and nationwide air dispersion modeling system. We have done this using commercially available off the shelf technology in less than four months since contract signing. This is just the baseline – there is a tremendous amount of work left to do as we populate the rest of Kuwaiti industrial emissions, account for the impacts of residential and mobile sources, and refine the data we do have.

Working in close cooperation with Kuwait Oil Company (KOC) and with great team spirit, AQMIS will be the backbone of Air Quality Management in Kuwait – giving KEPA immediate information on all registered sources, and allowing industry to know what is expected from them. As our teams met with private industrial representatives, they recorded the frustration in not knowing what they needed to do and then being penalized by ad hoc inspections. By initiating a source permit program, industrial stakeholders will have a clear understanding of their responsibilities and KEPA regulators will know what is allowable and what is not.
This workshop is only the beginning of more targeted discussions. Our KIEMS team will be working with individual sectors to refine the data they already have, continue training our KEPA team members, and add to the data already collected. Your role in providing an evidence based approach for decision making is key. The AQMIS is only as effective as the information and data that drive it.

Thank you again for coming and I am looking forward to continuing our collaboration with you to make this initiative a real success.