Resistance to Change towards Sustainability

1.0 Introduction:

On the way to the adoption of new knowledge, the trend towards change for the better, and looking at the experiences of other countries to take advantage of innovative ideas, methods and sustainable solutions in order to address potential risks and provide solutions to current problems, there are some challenges and obstacles that are hindering the change towards sustainable development. Therefore, it is important to discover such barriers and to evaluate their impact and identify ways of overcoming them.

This chapter illustrates some of the underlying factors and causes behind the resistance to change towards the adoption of the concept of sustainability within the case study for this research (Saudi Arabia), and the lack of interest of the stakeholders, institutions and government authorities concerned. This attitude has weakened the ability to make progress towards sustainable development, as well as contributed towards the creation of some of the difficulties in the decision making process. The interpretations have been revealed by the participants in this research. Thus, this section provides insights for those interested in this field, to realise the current situation, and to contribute to the trend towards making appropriate decisions.

Due to the influence and importance of the underlying meanings of the participants’ words and sentences (qualitative data), as well as the memos and notes taken during the field work (as illustrated in methodology chapter, section 6.1.2), a Grounded Theory approach has been used in the analysis process.

It is worth mentioning that the intended context of change here is not related to any kind of calling for political or administrative changes, but it means a change in the general culture around the concept of seeking new knowledge, and utilising the experiences of other countries in the introduction of unconventional solutions within urban planning and sustainable development, based on the current factors and changes within the case study area.



2.0 Factors behind the need for change

2.1 The main driving forces:

Through examining the case study area, there are two factors that have become apparent which require a call for change; improvements to the current situation; the adoption of new knowledge, and finding innovative solutions to deal with existing problems and potential risks in the future. These two factors are climate change, and the rapid rate of urbanisation. These two are also considered the driving forces behind the concerned authorities and stakeholders thinking logically about change and development for the better, as illustrated in the quotes below:

“Now, we are in a very important era which includes the subject of climate change and its considerations, and the increasing quantities of rainwater and flooding in the cities and in urban complexes which may cause problems in the future. Therefore finding systems and techniques to reduce the problems of the heavy rains in the cities and urban complexes is, I think, a very important matter from both humanitarian and economical standpoints” (Faisal.RI).


“In the coming period, in the shadow of what we have heard about the intensification of rainstorms, we are threatened by climatic changes. The expected rainstorms will be stronger than ever, meanwhile all our networks have been designed for ten years” ….. “After 10-15 years, it is expected that rainstorms will intensify, consequently, the available networks will not withstand this, and will be insufficient. Therefore, some solutions need to be found. Every person must take the water out of his own building, and he could build a tank or do anything else, in order to reduce the pressure on the network” (Essa.RM).


The participant ‘Faisal.RI’ is a civil engineer and an academic in the field of hydraulic structures, which aims to reduce the flood risk, for about 25 years especially at the level of the central region of Saudi Arabia. Also he works as a consultant in the ‘Arriyadh Development Authority (ADA)’ and ‘Riyadh Municipality’ for about 20 years. Therefore what he stated in the above quote is stems from long experience, combined with a broad vision and the ability to compare the situation, what it was in the past and how it is now, in terms of the driving forces mentioned and the extent of their influence…………………………………………………..

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