Harnessing the power of science to achieve our sustainability goals
By Ruba Farkh, Associate Environmental Governance Director at The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC)
At The Red Sea Development Company (TRSDC) we are aiming to push the boundaries of innovation and sustainability, to create a truly ground-breaking regenerative destination. Science is at the heart of our approach to sustainability and is key to helping us to achieve our bold ambitions. As part of this, we have built a bespoke Value Driven Approach (VDA) model that demonstrates the value of tasks, activities and data to our teams and stakeholders. The model draws upon TRSDC Environment and Sustainability Policy and Principles and supports our pledge to contribute a 30 percent net conservation benefit at The Red Sea Project by 2040, through the enhancement of biologically diverse habitats such as coral reefs, mangrove forests, seagrass meadows and land vegetation.
The VDA model is based on the concept of Ecosystem Services (ES), which are the benefits that humans derive from the environment. ES are little-known yet vital to humanity and can provide direct or indirect benefits such as pollination, recreational activities, and life-support processes like flood protection. These systems are vital for not only protecting but enhancing the incredible biodiversity within the region, and through our VDA model we can more clearly identify at risk ecological and natural entities that require our protection.
VDA in action
Our initial trial of the VDA model was conducted on Shurayrah Island five years ago. Given the volume of data that can be collected, when we first presented the data, it was too complicated to understand. We therefore simplified how it was presented with clear graphs and maps, highlighting the key assessments and important numbers. Our main focus for this activity was to ensure that designers, design consultants and master planners who are known to be a very visual audience, could apply the data to ongoing project development.
In the initial pilot we worked closely with the design teams and master planners working on the Shurayrah island concept ‘Coral Bloom’. When presenting the data more visually, the British architectural design firm, Foster and Partners immediately saw the value of the VDA model and realised it would be incredibly useful to incorporate into the wider design process.
As a result of the trial, we have been able to apply the concept to the wider ongoing development projects. It has been inspiring to see how well received the concept has been across the business and by our partners and demonstrates the strong collaborative ethos at TRSDC. Guided by our environmental commitments, and supported by our unique VDA model, we can ensure our developments have the least possible impact on the surrounding ecosystems, However, simply preventing harm to the environment is not enough, that is why we want to promote a paradigm shift from mitigation of environmental and social impacts to enhancement of conservation benefits and sustainability. The VDA model will be an important part of this as The Red Sea Project moves from the design to the development phase, and work gets underway to bring our vision of a truly regenerative destination to life.
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