Civic engagement is often termed as civic participation. It refers to the individual as well as collective actions, which are directed at identifying and addressing issues that concerns the public (McIlrath 4). There are many elements of civic engagement. However, all the elements are directed towards decision-making, allocation, and governance of the resources of the community. All these action are done with an aim of improving the civic life of the community through development. In most cases, the civic engagement activities tend to address matters of environmental conservation and protection, security, unemployment, child labor, people with disabilities, among other issues, which may be of importance to the community (McIlrath 18). Even though civic engagement has been taken to be the duty of the national governments, advocacy groups, and nonprofit groups, the government has played a big role in this issue. In fact, the local governments of various cities in the world have drawn their attention towards this issue. The local governments in most cities are coming up with policies that target sensitive issues within the cities and how to address those issues (Sembawa 100). In this paper, some of the policies initiatives undertaken within the Jubal city will be discussed. It will analyze how the members of the public were involved in such major policies.
Jubail city is among the most industrialized cities in the world. One of the issues associated with industries is environmental pollution, which results in global warming. Therefore, the city is one of the target points of the world as far as environmental conservation is concerned. As such, the local government of the Jubail city, under the Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu (RCJY), has been on the front run in ensuring that environmental protection and conservation is among the first priorities of all the industries within the area (15 Years of Accomplishments 88). In addition, the commission has ensured that all the residents of the Jubail city are involved the environment protection activities. The global trends in the environmental awareness have forced the concerned parties of the Jubail city to come up with measures that aim to protect the citizens residing in this city from dangers of the environment, especially the pollution effects. However, all these are done with an aim of increasing the productivity of the industries within the Jubail city.
The city has an environmental policy that is responsible for the protection of its environment as well as the health of the residents (15 Years of Accomplishments 102). Most of these policies are formulated with the Royal commission for Jubail and Yanbu. The mandate of this commission is implementing the physical as well as the social infrastructure, which is required in all aspects of developing the Jubail city. In this context, the mission of this commission is maintaining some balance between the industrial development in the region and environmental safety, which is compatible with sustainable developments. This commission has been entrusted with the full responsibility of developing the infrastructure, managing, and operating the residential, commercial as well as the industrial base in Jubail industrial city. It came up with the policy that tends to encourage other private investments, both local and foreign, in participating in these activities. In fact, this policy has been successful in many ways, something that has led to the commission earning many international awards in environmental conservation and protection.
The environmental conservation policy is meant to direct companies in order to ensure that they do not create undue risks on the environment. The policy ensures that industrial operations are carried out with much concern on the protection of the air, land, and water. Under this policy, for example, the commission developed a range of engineering standards, operational requirements, as well as the performance guidelines for the implementation of the policy (Sembawa 65). The policy was mainly targeted at regulating the commercial activities in the city. The aim was ensuring safety, health, as well as good the public welfare. In addition, the policy set the regulations, specifications, and guidelines that must be followed within the industries, including the worker.
Several stakeholders influenced the Jubail city environmental policy. One of the major stakeholders that were included was the Royal Commission Environmental Emergency Response Team (RCEERT). This team was the representative of the RCJY. This team is responsible for surveying around the Jubail city, including the residential areas and beaches in order to identify any abnormal situations. It is mainly composed of environmental engineers and specialists. The other stakeholders that were involved in the policy were the representatives from the various companies and industries in the region. The companies that played a major part in this environmental protection policy were the Saudi Aramco and the Dow chemical Company. We also had the representatives from the Presidency of Meteorology and Environment, which is responsible for overseeing the overall environmental matters within the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. There were also representative from the various world environmental organizations as and local non-governmental organizations.
The environmental policy had an influence on the community. Therefore, it was necessary to include the participation of these members in the program. There were a few members of the public in the implementation team. However, the remaining community members were also involved in the implementation of the policy indirectly. There are environmental awareness programs, which are periodically organized by the Royal Commission. This awareness is done through meetings, exhibitions, seminars, lectures, workshops, among other methods. The awareness programs target the public at large. In addition, these awareness programs are meant to target the industrial workers and the people that work in commercial facilities. The Jubail city is very committed in the success of the environmental protection policy. In fact, it established a permanent Environmental Exhibition Hall, which is used during most of the environmental awareness programs (15 Years of Accomplishments 82). The schools and the students have not been left behind in this policy. There are environmental laboratories in the city, where the students are encouraged to visit and learn more about the importance of environmental protection. In fact, students as well as the public visit these laboratories on regular basis.
In my view, the management of the Jubail city has given the public a good role in the implementation of the environmental policy. Through the awareness campaigns, the public are always given a chance to present their views concerning the issue. They are in a better position because most of the time they are the ones on the receiving end. By incorporating some of the views in its decision-making, the Royal commission has achieved much success as far as the protection and conservation of the environment is concerned. This is evident in the environment conservation awards that the commission has been receiving (Sembawa 203).
The other challenge facing the Jubail city is the housing problem. This has also resulted from the high level of industrialization, which requires labor. Therefore, there has been immigration of people in the city causing house shortage. To address this problem, the Royal Commission has come up with a housing policy. Under this program, the commission came up with a housing scheme in the city for the Royal commission employees as well as the industrial firms. This is expected to reduce the congestion in the city and help in lowering the house prices in the Jubail city. The projected is expected to build approximately 14 thousand housing units by 2016, with a plan of increasing them to 16 thousand one year later.
The project was implemented after seeking the views of several stakeholders that were affected with this program. Some of the major stakeholders include the Saudi Basic Industries Corporation (SABIC), the Saudi International Petrochemical Company (SIPCHEM), and the National Industrialization Company (TASNEE). These parties have been involved in the construction of various housing units within the Jubail city (15 Years of Accomplishments 204). In addition, there were also other stakeholders in the program including the private industries, the environmental conservation team, and the public, among other parties.
Even though this move will boost the economic development of the Jubail city comprehensively, it is my feeling that the most affected party in this program was not involved. There was minimum public participation in the project concerning the location, size, and nature of the houses. Despite the fact that they are in need of accommodation, they were also to be included in the decision making process.
In order to solve the housing problem in the Jubail city, the Royal Commission should pass and enforce laws that will require companies, especially those that are privately owned, to take part in city development projects. This would include providing houses for its employees.
15 Years of Accomplishments: Royal Commission for Jubail and Yanbu. Riyadh: The Commission, 1991. Print.
McIlrath, Lorraine. Higher education and civic engagement international perspectives. Aldershot, England: Ashgate, 2007. Print.
Sembawa, Essam A. Community Satisfaction and Mobility Decisions: A Case Study in Jubail Industrial City, Saudi Arabia, 2010. Internet resource.