Due to the excessive pressures of population growth, rapid technology developments and overconsumption of many natural resources, the natural and beautiful environment is damaged and degraded continuously and at times permanently. This has been recognized by the governments all over the world and many of them, including Sultanate of Oman, have started placing restraints and at times curbs on activities that cause environmental degradation.
Environmental protection all over the world is a practice of protecting and ultimately restoring the natural environment by individuals, organizations and governments. At DU, the main objectives of environmental protection are to conserve the existing natural resources and environment and wherever possible repair the damage already caused.
The Middle Eastern countries become part of the joint Islamic environmental action, which was initiated in 2002 in Jeddah. Under the Islamic Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the member states join the Islamic Environment Ministers Conference in every two years, focusing on the importance of environment protection and sustainable development. In August 2019, the Sultanate of Oman won the award for 2018–19 in Saudi Arabia.
Oman government has a clear vision about securing its environment and has taken concrete steps to protect the environment and ensured renewed balance of development plans and use of its natural resources. DU fully endorses the vision of Oman government and has taken number of steps in this direction.
The Sustainability Goal
Sustainable development has been the key priority for Dhofar university with complete emphasis on the three E’s of sustainability, Economics, Ecology and Equity. The students are made aware about the importance of ecology and the care one has to take in pursuance of a bright future for all of us. The Oman Vision 2040 lays emphasis on the environment concern and impact and the need to be made aware of the same.
DU academic programs do take care that students do have the option of pursuing courses on environment and environmental campaign for energy conservation, recycling of waste, usage of plastic material, saving electricity, renewable energy sources, fuel emission and transportation, green impact etc. are carried out regularly with active participation from faculty and students.
The student advisory council or student union actively organize, in collaboration with the Department of Student Affairs, College Administration and Community service & Continuing Education Center, many campaigns aimed at sensitizing the DU students and staff. Research project on Eco-house, renewable energy project, water conservation etc. are undertaken and are supported by the University Department of Research. Campus-wide initiatives are a key part of making DU more sustainable. However, individuals can make a difference too.
Some key initiatives currently underway at DU for environment are:
- Energy and Water Conservation
- Recycling, Reduced-Use and Re-Use
- Air Pollution Control
- Tree Plantation and Green University Project
- Equity and Social Cohesiveness
Energy and Water Conservation
Energy and water conservation is need of the hour universally as both these natural resource have limited supply. DU is mostly using conventional energy for meeting its energy requirements and energy bill constitutes a substantial portion of its recurring costs. Energy conservation can result in substantial cost saving for the University. DU also uses considerable amount of water. Just like energy bill, water bill also constitutes a substantial portion of its recurring costs. Furthermore, any reduction in consumption of water also means reduction in energy bill as lot of energy is required to supply water to end users.
Energy and Water Conservation Policy
DU has an Energy and Water Conservation Policy, which provides a framework for conservation of energy and water so as to reduce their consumption and gain control over their financial cost to the University.
The overall responsibility of energy and water conservation is with the Department of Technical Affairs (TAD), Department of Administrative Affairs (DAA) and Director of Hostel Services (DHS). However, it is also a moral responsibility of all the stakeholders using these resources.
The underlying principle of energy and water conservation at DU is that it is not a one-time exercise but a continuous endeavour and requires the involvement and support of all stakeholders. Every drop of water and every unit of energy saved counts. It may look small but when aggregated it builds into a lot. Let us ensure that we all do our part and contribute toward saving energy and water.
Energy and water conservation in Practice at DU
Awareness programs about the importance of energy and water conservation and how to practice these are conducted on a regular basis by the TAD. All users are urged to follow the instructions and guidelines issued by the TAD from time to time and are expected to contribute towards conservation of energy and water.
Any wastage of energy or water should be brought to the notice of concerned authorities immediately. Details of emergency contact person are posted at all prominent places in DU premises. Any wastage of energy or water brought to the notice of concerned authorities should be attended immediately.
Wherever possible, priority should be given to the use of natural light. ACs consume maximum energy. In view of this, all users are advised to set the temperature at optimum level as per their requirement. As far as possible, use of lift for coming down should be avoided. Instead use the staircase, which will be a good physical exercise also.
TAD shall explore the possibilities of using solar energy, wherever possible. While replacing the old electronic equipment and sanitary fittings, it shall be ensured that the new ones will result in water conservation.
TAD shall be proactive and ensure that periodic inspection and preventive maintenance is done. Director of Hostel Services, through the hostel supervisors, shall ensure that the hostel students are aware of energy and water conservation and contribute towards that. The schedule for watering the plants and greenery in the campus shall be early in the morning or late in the evening so that only optimum water is used and there is minimal loss due to evaporation.
Recycling, Reduced-Use and Re-Use
This is accomplished at DU through various initiatives, which include:
Reduce printing by reading on-screen
DU encourage e paper usage rather than using paper and printed notes. With nearly every resource just a screen-tap away — and device-based note-taking simpler than ever — students are to read things on their personal devices rather than printing them off. The learning management system used for students – Moodle has all the learning material readily available and easily downloadable on personal device and the need to print them is not at all there.
Reduce usage of plastic and plastic material
Endeavors must be made to reduce the usage of plastic on campus and use only bio gradable material for packaging. The students campaign to create awareness is done by the department of community outreach by organizing various campaigns like cleaning the beach, walking for the cause of clean environment, say NO to plastics.
Conservation of local environment
DU regular undertake talks and lectures by eminent activist and scholar to sensitize and make its community understand the importance of conserving the local environment particularly the flora and fauna on the mountains and the marine ecological system.
ECO HOUSE project
In order to create awareness and sensitivity among the students who are the future of the nation eco house project was undertaken with grants from the TRC. A team of students from the department of interior architecture designed and built a eco house on the campus with all the necessary expertise and created a two storied house which conserve energy. This house is a model of how house shall be built that are energy efficient and conserve energy.
Air Pollution Control
This is accomplished through awareness programs and related policies
Reducing Carbon emission
DU has started an initiative to let all stakeholder realize the kind of carbon footprint each individual leaves behind due to the work schedule and usage of fossil fuels. The DU has a transportation policy which emphasizes on reducing the usage of fuel in car and transport vehicle and promoting the culture carpooling for transport needs.
Du has a transportation policy which provide a framework for regulating and monitoring entry, exit, movement and parking of motor vehicles within the University campus and also guidelines for students, staff and visitors using these vehicles.
As per this policy, Public motor vehicles and chauffer driven vehicles are not allowed to remain in DU campus for more than 1 hour. Students in general are advised to use public vehicles which involves mass transportation. DU strongly advises the students and staff using private motor vehicles to have maximum car-pooling arrangements. The objective is to reduce the number of vehicles in the campus and thereby pollution.
Tree Plantation and Green University Project
The Ministry of Environment & Climate Affairs (MECA) in Oman launched a national initiative to plant ten million wild trees under the patronage of His Excellency Mohammed bin Salim Al Tobi, the Minister of Environment and Climate Affairs, as part of the celebration of the Omani Environment Day, which falls on January 8 of each year.
DU fully endorses and participates in this project, which is meant towards repairing the damage and restoring the natural environment. Accordingly, DU students and faculty engage themselves in in-campus activities through “Green University Project” and off-campus activities through “Tree Plantation Projects”. These projects are implemented throughout the year by CSCEC in close coordination with College Administration and the Department of Student Affairs.
Equity and Social Cohesiveness
DU ensure that the principle of equity is followed in all its policies and practices within the framework of the national laws. The National Policy itself advocate social cohesiveness and nondiscrimination based on gender, caste, creed, faith or color.
DU practices the policy of social cohesiveness and equity and several initiatives are in place to ensure that it reflects very clearly on all its policies.
Employees – DU is an equal opportunity employers employing faculty and staff from over 20 nationalities who follow varied faith, are of color and represent different social values.
Students – DU has an open policy of recruiting international students from various nationalities which form the minority group among the large populace of Omani students.
Special Student – DU specifically promotes and support students with disability which also form a minority group within the campus and a dedicated center take care of all their needs and rights.
Female Education – DU strategic objective is to encourage female education and therefore it offers free hostel accommodation to female students, free food during Ramadan month, free transportation etc to encourage female to enroll in various academic programs. Gender equality for the nation is very imperative and therefore it is encouraged by the university.