It is believed that the decision-making dynamics in the AGS related to the global development agenda (such as the MDGs, the Rio+20 and the post 2015 development agenda, as well as Climate change) are mostly driven by the States’ foreign policy. Evidently, AGS have a strong geopolitical weight in the regional and world economy (given their oil and gas reserves); they became highly exposed after September 2001; they are at the heart of the Climate Change discourse; they have the largest share of the sovereign wealth funds globally; and many AGS envision global ambitions.
Understanding the decision-making structures and dynamics requires, as suggested by Nonneman, a multi-dimensional analysis that examines the domestic determinants – mostly regime survival, the regional (inter and intra) geopolitical challenges and aspirations, as well as the international positioning and dependencies.
Indeed, I would argue that all the AGS have seized the initial global calls for greening the economies in light of the 2008 crisis as the opportunity to position themselves in the global post 2008 era. Along with their Arab League counterparts, the AGS endorsed in 2009 the first Arab Strategy for Sustainable Consumption and production. At the same time, their global outreach has prompted the development of key initiatives aiming at off-setting the unsustainable practices yielding high carbon emission and waste generation, as well as to propagate a polished image of the states that aim to be key players in the regional and global economies (leaders in the services and transport industries -aviation and marine, among others), while preserving each member state’s competitiveness edge. This would explain the huge “sustainability” claimed investments in research and development under the umbrella of Qatar Foundation, hosting of the International renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in UAE, the nine digit-investment in the planned zero-waste MASDAR city in Abu Dhabi, along with its research arm, the announcement of the 1,000 MW Mohamad Bin Rashed Al Maktoum solar park stretching over a 40 square kilometers in Duabi, as well as the recent Saudi Arabia announcement of its planned 100 billion investment to generate 41 GW of solar energy by 2032.
Regionally, it is noticeable that the Arab Gulf States exhibit different pace and approaches to development, subject to both domestic determinants as well as intra-regional competitiveness. Inter-regionally, though the investment opportunities for many Arab Gulf States were imminent in many sectors in the neighboring countries, it is worth noting that the regional circumstances –namely the “Arab Uprising” and its consequences so far – have impacted their policies. AGS were obliged to look inward and attend to the escalating voices and needs domestically. They seem to get further locked in their regime survival policies, namely providing more to their constituents in order to ensure their loyalty and legitimacy, amplifying their “nationalist” branding and tightening the security measures in an attempt to make it hard on insurgence to mess with the agreed socio-political contract between the ruling elites and their constituents.
What are the attributes of such contract? and how does it influence the sustainability drive?