Earlier this year, a Project Manager and a Senior Specialist were hired and in this next phase, the team is set to grow to include four supervisors and 26 stewards from local communities. The full team is expected to be in place by the end of August 2020.
“Our new Saudi recruits will be responsible for conserving natural resources in a way that takes full and balanced account of the interests of Saudi society and future generations,” said John Pagano, CEO at The Red Sea Development Company.
“As members of the local community, they have a vested interest in protecting the habitat and species that call our site home. The new team brings a wealth of local knowledge which will be sharpened with the provision of a tailored training program in order to achieve our sustainability goals and ultimately enhance the destination.”
The program covers general environmental awareness and local wildlife, and the impact of increased plastic recycling and alternatives. Each employee will receive comprehensive first aid and first response training in order to build confidence and knowledge of how to handle specific situations correctly and efficiently.
Deep-rooted in the cultural heritage of the local tribes is a formal conservation system known as “hima”. Tribespeople were historically responsible for ensuring the protection of the flora and fauna in their territories. The Red Sea Project area is rich in acacia trees, in part because the local Bedouin proscribed their destruction and used the trees selectively for firewood and home construction components.
The initial training workshop will present the wide variety of flora currently at the site. The objective of the training is to ensure that each recruit can identify key flora species and, particularly those that are poisonous. The workshop will also equip the new employees with an understanding of maintaining biodiversity, ecological balance and successful conservation of flora.
“The health of the ecosystems at our destination is a testament to a historic way of life intimately connected to the natural environment,” said John Pagano. “This initiative aligns perfectly with Saudi Vision 2030 ensuring that local communities play a key role in our ambition to safeguard our environment and promote a wider appreciation for achieving environmental sustainability practices in everyday life.”
As part of their remit, the Sustainability Stewards will be responsible for engaging with the wider local communities, particularly with school children, to raise awareness of the environment and how best to protect it.
“The Sustainability Stewards will lead local education, engagement, and outreach programs, while promoting all TRSDC sustainability programs aimed at protecting and enhancing the environment. More importantly, we hope that this initiative will inspire environmentally sustainable behavior of people living around the site, as well as those visiting it,” said Dr. Rusty Brainard, Chief Environmental Sustainability Officer at The Red Sea Development Company.
“This initiative contributes to the restoration of traditional conservation systems, while simultaneously ensuring the Saudi local community benefit from the project through professional employment. The initiative also reflects our commitment to align the project with the UN Sustainable Development Goals and to deliver a 30 percent net conservation benefit over the next two decades.”