Public awareness concerning the mounting challenges stemming from global warming is reassuringly high in Oman as the government, organisations and civil society continue to play their part in embracing environmental sustainability initiatives. Despite significant efforts by all those involved, consumers still face obstacles preventing them from translating their concerns into action via eco-friendly practices, according to a new report by Boston Consulting Group (BCG).
The report, titled ‘Are Consumers in the Gulf States Ready to Go Green?’, stresses that while 52 per cent of Oman consumers have reaffirmed their preparedness to incorporate more sustainable actions into their daily lives, green infrastructure, financial incentives and a greater selection of affordable eco-friendly goods and services would assist in accelerating change.
The report highlights that 74 per cent of Omani consumers are largely aware of climate change and how the issue negatively affects the environment. Forty-nine per cent of consumers with knowledge of the implications also perceive it to have a negative impact on the global environment, with 48 per cent already believing climate change is having a significant influence on their personal lives, and over half anticipating it will impact future generations.
“Climate change concerns in Oman have increased due to greater access to information and successful government and corporate initiatives, notably through Oman Vision 2040 which aims to ensure a balance between the ecological system and the economic and social dimensions of the sultanate,” said Simon Birkebaek, partner at BCG Middle East. “If public and private sectors were to do even more to facilitate awareness initiatives, green infrastructure investments, and a wider choice of affordable eco-friendly goods and services, then more people will chose to pursue sustainable lifestyles.”
Despite the willingness of Oman consumers to live more sustainably, the primary challenge is to translate these concerns into action. For example, Oman still heavily relies on disposal of waste in landfills, while electric vehicles are also relatively rare. Therefore, understanding the perceived barriers for consumers to take action is important in advancing the green agenda.
“Public concerns around climate and sustainability do bode well for the future,” said Cristiano Rizzi, managing director and partner at BCG.
“Many people believe that environmentally sustainable lifestyles will play a bigger role in the future, and an encouraging number of people wish to make – or are making – progress with eco-friendly behaviour and purchases.
“Several challenges remain, and today, there are growing calls for more recycling and renewable energy information, as well as guidance on how to live more sustainably and reduce energy consumption.
“At the same time, people also want to see more investment geared towards sustainable infrastructure – particularly in recycling, renewable energy, public transportation and eco-tourism,” Rizzi said.
“Because demand for sustainable goods and services have increased, companies in Oman would experience potential growth opportunities if they adapted their go-to-market strategies to more effectively cater to customers’ changing demands, specifically better options, more accessible price points, and better promotion of the benefits of sustainability.”
When it comes to a more sustainable lifestyle, consumers do not always perceive higher prices as being adequately reflected in greater quality or better experiences.
Other barriers to sustainable lifestyles include insufficient information, limited access to opportunities, limited range, social pressure to maintain current lifestyles, and concerns that eco-friendly products lack quality and downgrade lifestyles.
Although the government has done much to encourage recycling, 37 per cent of consumers believe it is a cumbersome practice. Consequently, further investment in infrastructure, regulations and information on how to recycle correctly will be needed if the pace of change is to increase.
The public’s reluctance to embrace electric vehicles is based around perceived high purchase prices, operating costs and a lack of charging infrastructure – 47 per cent cite electric vehicles as being too expensive and 33 per cent expressed the opinion that operating costs are too highIn terms of eco-friendly touristic destinations, something Oman is keen to explore, the perceived higher costs, long travel distances and lack of access to luxurious amenities, entertainment and shopping are of concern to travellers with 41 per cent pointing to the lack of amenities as an issue.