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Hamdan hails UAE's great accomplishments

posted on 02/12/2003: 1968 views

Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), has praised the manifold accomplishments made by the UAE in the sphere of environment, as part of the country's comprehensive plan to achieve sustainable development.

In a statement on the occasion of the 32nd National Day, Sheikh Hamdan said the last few years had witnessed a steady progress in the fields of environmental protection and wildlife management in the UAE, thanks to the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, along with the support of his brothers, Their Highnesses Members of the Supreme Council and Rulers of the Emirates, according to a press release from ERWDA issued yesterday.

In line with the leadership's firm belief to enhance sustainable development and with the guidance of H. H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of ERWDA, much of ERWDA's efforts have been devoted in the last period to develop and implement programmes and projects to protect natural resources and wildlife, and to address other areas of environmental concern.

Sheikh Hamdan said that the year 2003 witnessed the accomplishment of a number of programs and projects which are consistent with the strategic plan and the six goals of the five-year environmental strategy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi which included developing system to regulate and monitor environmental and natural resources, fisheries management, water resources management, wildlife, and a society with increased environmental awareness and education.

The strategy, which was developed by ERWDA in coordination with all concerned parties in the Emirate, identify and express a direction and a set of priorities for environmental action addressing the true needs of the Emirate for five years (2003-2005). It is also based on developing effective partnerships among a number of Abu Dhabi organizations and agencies working together to "spare no effort in caring for the environment". In order to achieve its strategic goals, ERWDA signed during year 2003 a contract to conduct an Air Quality Monitoring and Management Study for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

This initiative comes as part of ERWDA's continuous efforts to protect the environment for generations to come, especially under the major development that the Emirate is witnessing in all economical, social and technological aspects. As part of the Agency's effort to put in place a fisheries management strategy a fish stock assessment project, which was carried out in conjunction with external consultants, was successfully completed and produced information on seasonal distribution and abundance of major species and trawlable and non-trawlable grounds.

In the area of environmental awareness many programmes were developed by ERWDA to popularise the concept of environmental protection and wildlife conservation. Furthermore, ERWDA had developed a strategy for environmental awareness for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. These achievements have been honoured during year 2003 in the regional and international levels.

On the regional level, ERWDA won the best environmental awareness category in the Gulf Cooperation Council's (GCC) competition 2002-2003 for 'Best Environmental Achievements', while on the international level this year the Agency also triumphed the Silver IVCA (International Visual Communication Association) award for the External Multimedia Product of the Year, an award that is truly very prestigious and there is no other higher accolade for creativity, originality, production and expertise.

The award-winning e-learning program, Learn about Al Wathba Lake Reserve CD-Rom, was developed to promote environmental awareness. Sheikh Hamdan noted that to implement its vision and action plans, ERWDA needs an integration partnership with all concerned organizations - government, NGO, private sector, therefore, the last period witnessed the signature of number of Memoranda of Understanding (MoU) with relevant organizations in the national and regional levels.

One of the most significant MoUs was the agreement signed between the United Nations Environment Programme / Regional Office for West Asia (UNEP/ROWA) and ERWDA, to implement the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI). This is championed by ERWDA and supported by UNEP. ERWDA and UNEP/ROWA, in terms of the MoU, are to work together to address the need to improve environmental data/information infrastructure including environmental data quality, collection, analysis, exchange, sharing updating and dissemination.

"While UNEP's role is the development of the global, regional and sub-regional components, ERWDA will be responsible for the implementation of the sub-national and national pilot projects", he added. Year 2003 was noteworthy for ERWDA as it organized a number of Conferences, Seminars and Symposiums.

Among the most significant of these was the International Conference and Exhibition on "Environment and Energy: A Framework for Sustainable Development." It provided a forum for the exchange of ideas and information among decision-makers, scientists, industrialists, strategists and economists involved in the environment field. It was for the second year the Conference was being held in Abu Dhabi under the theme of Environment and examined a range of topics including implications of energy related policies in the environment, global socio-economic implications of energy policies, current and future environment-friendly technologies, poverty alleviation and consumption patterns.

On the sidelines of the Environment & Energy 2003 Conference was the meeting of the Ministers of Environment and Energy affairs from the Arab region. Endorsed at the end of their meeting was the Abu Dhabi Declaration on Environment and Energy, which determined features of an integrated Arab strategy in this field. The Declaration was a culmination of plans and strategies for sustainable environmental development in the Arab region in the 21st century.

Sheikh Hamdan said that the Agency is now at the groundwork of organizing the year 2005 Environment Conference and Exhibition which will be held under the theme "Sustainable Transportation" "ERWDA had also participated in the organization of Arab Hunting Show which was held under the motto "Toward Sustainable Hunting". The pavilion highlighted UAE's efforts to achieve the sustainable use and long-term conservation of houbara and falcon by rational management of hunting activities, and management of the wild population of houbara bustard and falcon.

The event, which was a culmination of an exhibition, seminar, poetry night and various activities for the youngsters, has gained the reputation of being one of the most successful events in the region. The President H. H. Sheikh Zayed, who toured the stalls displaying equipment used in hunting and wildlife trips, praised ERWDA's efforts in breeding houbara in captivity and gave his instruction to breed in the next ten year 10,000 Houbara in coordination with the region's states and other concerned countries so as to increase their number in the wild.

In accordance with the directions of Sheikh Zayed, a one-day symposium on "Saker falcon status in the range countries" was organized by ERWDA, in the year 2003, to discuss preventive measures to protect its species from extinction. After deliberations on various studies and research the meeting issued a Declaration on Saker Falcon Conservation, stressing on the need to enhance cooperation at all levels of research and policy to conserve falcons, and carry out coordinated efforts by national and international organizations to study its population biology and conservation problems.

In the same context ERWDA, and the National Commission of Wildlife Conservation and Development (NCWCD), KSA are organizing an International Conference on Biology and Conservation of the Houbara Bustard, due to be held from 25-28 September 2004. The objective of the conference is not just to allow people concerned by Houbara conservation to meet, but also to stimulate actions for Houbara conservation. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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