The emergence of the pandemic has shown just how disastrous the consequences of ecosystem loss can be for human civilization. By shrinking the natural habitat for animals and living organisms, we have created ideal conditions for pathogens – including coronaviruses to spread. Therefore, this World Environment Day is fitting to create public awareness about different environmental issues that plague us.
The World Environment Day launched by the United Nations and observed each year on 5th June focuses on ecosystem restoration, and its theme this year is “Reimagine. Recreate. Restore.”
The United Arab Emirates is among the first countries in the region to prioritize environmental protection and easing climate change by adopting green policies. The Ruler and Vice-President of Dubai, Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum in a meeting with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), said, “We must preserve our resources, reinforce biodiversity and achieve the highest levels of productivity.”
In accordance, the UAE has launched a series of national initiatives and has taken a set of measures based on the use of technology, innovative solutions and practices to protect the environment and conserve natural resources while achieving robust social and economic development. Some of the initiatives are:
The problems associated with biodiversity have received considerable and prompt attention in the UAE that is echoed in the tremendous efforts made by the nation and its related significant achievements in this area. The UAE has enacted a new legislation and monitored its implementation, established and expanded protected areas to protect, bred endangered species and reintroduced them into their natural habitats.
Land and sea diversity being an essential part of UAE’s heritage, the MOCCAE in collaboration with its partners, aims to strengthen its efforts through the application and execution of varied plans and initiatives in the framework of ‘The National Biodiversity Strategy’, ‘The National Strategy to Combat Desertification’, and ‘The Strategy for Sustainability of the Marine and Coastal Environment’, among others.
Sustainability of Marine Environment And Fisheries
The coastal and marine environment of the UAE, which encloses much of the population and biodiversity, holds extreme importance and has hence received special attention.
Under 1999’s UAE Federal Law No. 24 on Environment Protection and Development, intentional disposal or deliberate dumping of waste material from any means of transport into the marine environment is forbidden.
In the framework of the MOCCAE’s strategy 2017-2021 for the sustainability of the natural ecosystem and preservation of marine life, the country aims to restore the coral reefs by deploying artificial reefs to support the marine environment and rehabilitating the degraded coastal areas, which are considered as natural multi-dimensional community structures for marine organisms.
Reclaiming Air Quality
The UAE National Vision 2021 agenda has air quality as its prime focus and targets to raise air quality from its current level to 90% by 2021. The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has partnered with players of the public and private sector to meet this goal.
They collectively make efforts through state-of-the-art systems and the adoption of best practices. These include the development of an air quality control network with acceptable standards for air pollution and compliance control, increasing the use of clean energy with the transition to a green economy, sustainability of the transport sector, and the reliance on intelligent technologies and solutions in monitoring the different types of pollutants.
In another project, landfill gas is changed to usable energy and has favorably achieved 1.2 million tons of carbon reduction so far.
Water Security Strategy
The Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure has put in place the UAE Water Security Strategy 2036, intending to reduce water scarcity, increase water productivity, reduce average consumption per capita by half, increase the re-use of treated water to 95 percent, and increase national water storage capacity up to two days, to ensure sustainable access to water during both routine and emergency conditions.
These objectives would fall under three main programs – ‘Water Demand Management Programme’, ‘Water Supply Management Programme’, and ‘Emergency Production and Distribution Programme’. Also in place is the UAE Research Program for Rain Enhancement Science that addresses water security challenges.
The strategy will also include water conservation awareness campaigns. Once implemented, the Water Security Strategy 2036 will achieve savings of AED 74 billion and reduce 100 million metric tons of carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions, which is a by-product of the water desalination process.
Plastic Use Reduction
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced a policy to reduce the quantity of single-use plastic material in the national capital and diminish its harmful effects. The policy aims to eradicate plastics from the environment and eliminate single-use plastic materials by 2021 by encouraging a culture of recycling and re-use and fostering more sustainable practices in the community. By way of the new policy, the EAD will make Abu Dhabi free of single-use plastic bags by last quarter of 2021.
Addressing Climate Change
Climate change has received apt attention within the country. The UAE has exerted diverse efforts to address the consequences caused by climate change and adapt to its possible impacts on the ecosystems and economic branch of life. In line with these efforts, the country has adopted crucial schemes such as the policy related to economic diversification, focusing on building a green economy, concentrating on cleaner and renewable means of energy, and promoting transports that are energy efficient and sustainable urban planning, etc. With the help of ‘the National Climate Change Plan 2050’ acquired by the Cabinet in June 2017, and ‘the National Climate Change Adaptation Program’ adopted at the first annual meeting of the UAE Government in September 2017, along with other relevant policies and programs, the country is working towards combating the increasing climate change issues.
Building Sustainable Neighbourhoods
The UAE has also been at the forefront of experimenting with sustainable neighborhood development for more than a decade, one example being the Masdar City initiative in Abu Dhabi, which applies both traditional and cutting-edge technologies to enhance the sustainability of the township by including solar power generation, water recycling, passive solar design, and automated mobility. Nowadays, with individuals living and working at Masdar City, the location has developed as a full-fledged advancement biological system. Masdar City proceeds to include new businesses, schools, eateries, and much more, making the community similar to that of progressive cities around the world.
The Sustainable City, a 46-hectare property development in Dubai, is the first net-zero energy city that aims to provide all the amenities of modern living that are affordable without compromising on quality.
The UAE has pledged to “leave no one behind” and shift the world to a sustainable and resilient path.
(Source: Official Portal of the UAE Govt)
Protecting Our Planet And Securing A Safe Tomorrow Starts With You
- We are at a crucial moment in history, where scientists and world leaders emphasize the need for us as global citizens to act in a way to ensure the protection of our planet for the present and future generations.
- Follow BYOC (Bring Your Own Cups) to reduce the usage of plastics; try to carry a small metal bottle everywhere you go.
- Try to buy clothes and daily wears from thrift stores rather than fast fashion stores to enable more material recovery.
- Try to reduce your carbon footprint by practicing veganism. It not solely about food consumption but the product you buy. Check the ‘cruelty-free tag’ behind the products to ensure they’re not animal tested.
- Do effectively segregate waste in your house to reduce landfill and make the process of recycling easier.
- Say ‘no’ to single-use plastic bags by carrying your eco-friendly shopping bag and choose organic essentials, thereby reduce the impact of environmental pollution.