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January 9, 2024

KAUST Beacon Development: Sustainable Solutions for Saudi Arabia

Delivering strategic and technical guidance to both the private and public sectors is pivotal for Saudi Arabia to achieve Vision 2030 and its goals and targets. And at the center of this important task, KAUST Beacon Development, the consultancy arm of KAUST, is redefining how to best deliver environmental consultancy and strategic development for the Kingdom.

The availability of local expertise to guide national programs and projects is fundamental to the country’s development and is recognized at the core of KAUST’s newly released strategy of “Accelerating Impact”. KAUST’s deep-rooted understanding of Saudi Arabia’s unique environmental and socio-economic challenges enables it to prospect, develop and implement impactful solutions. This local insight provides an alternative to the often generalized strategies of international consultancy firms, allowing KAUST to offer a nuanced, in-depth approach that allows for the development of strategies that are highly relevant and effective in the Saudi context.

A significant focus area for KAUST Beacon Development is enhancing food security, a key aspect of Saudi Arabia’s Vision 2030. This encompasses not just ensuring an adequate supply of food but also focusing on sustainable methods of production. The seafood gap in Saudi Arabia exemplifies this challenge. While the nation’s annual seafood consumption is around 320,000 tons, domestic production is only about 120,000 tons. The Aquaculture Development Program (ADP) under KAUST Beacon Development aims to bridge this gap by expanding local aquaculture capabilities to reach a production of 530,000 tons, a move that aligns with the country’s economic diversification and sustainability goals.

In addition to aquaculture, sustainable fishing practices are another area of focus. Through research on various marine species, KAUST Beacon Development strives to establish sustainable fishing regulations and quotas. These efforts not only aim to protect the marine biodiversity of the Red Sea but also support the livelihoods of local communities, reflecting the interconnectedness of environmental sustainability and economic vitality.

Exploring algae farming as an alternative to traditional animal feeds is another innovative initiative taking shape at KAUST. This approach aligns with global efforts to reduce carbon emissions and improve efficiency in food production by shifting towards more sustainable practices in agriculture and animal husbandry. It also aims to reduce the current reliance on imported animal feeds in the Kingdom, reducing the dependency on these imports while creating new jobs and opening opportunities for exports.

KAUST Beacon Development’s commitment to wildlife conservation is evident through consultancy in projects aimed at protecting endangered species like the Green and Hawksbill turtles of Ras Baridi, or that discovered a new snake species in the Prince Mohammad Bin Salman Nature Reserve. This conservation work highlights the richness of Saudi Arabia’s natural habitats and underscores the importance of Saudi Arabia’s natural heritage, currently preserved in 13 protected land reserves across the country.

Advising on significant projects like NEOM, ROSHN, AMAALA, and Soudah Development, as well as governmental bodies like MEWA, KAUST Beacon Development ensures that these initiatives are in harmony with the country’s environmental sustainability goals, setting new benchmarks for sustainable development at a national and regional scale.

The wide array of KAUST Beacon Development’s initiatives aligns closely with several United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), such as SDG 2 (Zero Hunger), SDG 8 (Decent Work and Economic Growth), SDG 12 (Responsible Consumption and Production), SDG 14 (Life Below Water), or SDG 15 (Life on Land). These efforts are a testament to KAUST’s commitment to contributing meaningfully to sustainability while addressing the specific needs and objectives of Vision 2030.

In essence, KAUST Beacon Development’s diverse portfolio of consulting projects marks a significant stride in Saudi Arabia’s journey toward a sustainable and prosperous future, ensuring that its path to sustainability is both globally informed and locally grounded.

To learn more about all KAUST Beacon Development’s projects and initiatives, read their latest report here.