A shared economy for a more sustainable future

A shared economy for a more sustainable future

A shared economy for a more sustainable future
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I was happy to read an Arab News article about a Saudi start-up, Syaratech, that allows car owners to lease their private vehicles, just as Airbnb allows private homeowners to rent their property on its platform.

A similar service that started in the Gulf Cooperation Council, from a company called Invygo, takes the hassle out of getting a car. The first of its kind car-subscription app in the region, Invygo allows customers to pay for their rented car of choice in a seamless way with the option of buying it at the end.

It is worth noting that the car rental marketplace in Saudi Arabia is expanding and forecast to grow by about 7 to 8 percent per year between 2022 and 2026. These vehicle-sharing or leasing apps are great examples of a shared economy that can contribute in making our society a more sustainable one.

But what is a shared economy and can it really contribute to a sustainable society and more energy-efficient world? Some call it the peer economy, while others call it the collaborative economy or “collaborative consumption.” Still more commonly it is referred to as the sharing economy.

Through the shared economy one can share office space, use somebody else’s car, or stay at a stranger’s house instead of in a hotel when traveling.

Through services like Airbnb you can find people willing to share their home and all of its amenities at a lower cost than traditional hotel accommodation. Also, using a ride-hailing app like Uber gives the consumer the ability to get a ride from drivers who use their personal vehicles to make an extra income. With platforms similar to the ones mentioned, you can rent private cars when their owners don’t need them.

Factors like the internet, financial systems, and GPS make it possible for anyone to take part in this shared economy safely and with all the assurances needed.

By making it easier to exchange resources, the shared economy increases efficiency as it allows participants to get a service without owning valuable items, such as cars and homes, while creating opportunities for others, like Uber drivers and homeowners, and to get value from idle possessions.

I find this concept exciting. First, it first brings back the positive concept of sharing among people and communities across the world. A concept that we began to forget as a society as we tend to live in our bubbles, not trusting our neighbors. Through the shared economy we are trusting strangers to ride in our cars and to use our homes when we are away. More significantly, it provides economic opportunities and financial benefits.

The shared economy is also an opportunity for sustainability as it supports the efficient use of material for a more sustainable form of consumption. The possibility of using assets, without the need for ownership, reduces the need for commodity production and reduces waste. This causes a reduction in the negative impact on the planet due to the reduction of emissions and waste. It also helps in building a more sustainable society, energy conservation, and efficiency.

Energy efficiency brings reduced greenhouse gas emissions, lower demand for energy, and lower costs on a household and economic level. In fact, studies have shown that sharing has helped to offset the potential increase in greenhouse gas emissions by about 3 percent since 1960.

The shared economy is a way to promote economic activities and benefits as it connects people with used goods to those who need them, through available technologies. It is also one of the ways to reach a greener and healthier planet through a reduction in the resources required and helps to reduce pollution, emissions, and carbon footprints.

• Fuad Al-Zayer is an independent energy consultant with expertise in data and digitization. He is the former head of the Data Services Department at OPEC and a former head of the JODI Global Initiative at the IEF.

Disclaimer: Views expressed by writers in this section are their own and do not necessarily reflect Arab News' point-of-view