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Hamdan's statement on 6th National Environment Day

posted on 03/02/2003: 1622 views

In a statement commemorating the UAE's 6th National Environment Day, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency (ERWDA), spoke of the UAE's increasingly significant role in addressing environmental conservation and sustainable development on an international level. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan said: "The organizing of the Environment and Energy 2003 Exhibition and Conference reflects the UAE's commitment to addressing environmental conservation and sustainable development at the international level.”

Sheikh Hamdan said that since its formation, the UAE has succeeded in building a strong foundation for economic development that has dramatically altered the way of life in the country. The discovery of oil and its benefits has transformed the desert into what is today a flourishing country. It has allowed for rapid development to take place and has resulted in an increase of the standard of health and living, according to the statement, issued by ERWDA. He added that energy has played a key role in the development process with the energy industry helping build the economy not only in energy-producing countries but in energy consuming countries as well.

He said it was undeniable that energy and the environment were strongly intertwined and that a focused approach to the protection of the environment is vital to help ensure that the use of our resources is sustainable. This National Environment Day, carrying the theme 'Environment and Energy-Partners in Development', is a time to reflect on the most visible outcomes of the UAE's economic development which according to Sheikh Hamdan are apparent in the increase of the standard and quality of living. Advances in sustainable development have come in terms of economic, social and environmental aspects which have all left their mark on the lives of citizens in the UAE. These advances include vast improvements in health care, a decrease in the illiteracy rate, a boost in job opportunities for women, and overall progress of environmental laws and regulations.

Sheikh Hamdan said that the UAE, under the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the UAE and the consistent close follow up of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, as well as the Chairman of ERWDA's governing board, has focused its efforts in past years on carrying out a complete strategy plan for development where the environment was placed as a top priority.

Sheikh Hamdan pointed out that as the UAE is moving forward in the world, it has always been keen on lending a helping hand to its disadvantaged neighbours in developing countries in order to work together to achieve the dream of sustainable development. He added that in past decades energy use has increased steadily to reach 33 times in 1995, of what had been consumed in 1880.

Sheikh Hamdan added that previous discussions during last year's Environment and Energy 2001 Conference and Exhibition on the future of the environment in the Arab World demonstrated a worrisome rise in energy use in the region in the span of two decades, therefore calling for an examination of conservation efforts. The increase in energy use is tied to an increase in the population and higher standards of living as the gap between the developing and developed world widens. He added that despite the increase of energy production in past years, there was a growing interest in controlling pollutants.

The increase in energy use in methods of transportation reached 8 times the global level and the emission of toxic gases has become the main reason for polluting the air in Arab cities in general. Sheikh Hamdan added that this concurrent increase in energy production and growing environmental awareness is a result of several factors, the most important being the increase of population and the increase of industrial activities. This has augmented the problem of environmental pollution and now the relationship is very clear between the use of energy and air pollution in cities and the health risks it results in.

Although technological advancements have made it easier to assess dangerous levels of these pollutants and the method of dealing with them has improved, the increase of general environmental awareness in industrial countries has put pressure on governments to formulate policies in combating the deterioration of the environment. Moreover, Sheikh Hamdan stated that the choice of this year's theme for the Energy and Environment 2003 Exhibition and Conference comes fittingly under the efforts being undertaken on the regional and global level to have management systems for the safe use of energy in the pursuit of sustainable development.

According to Sheikh Hamdan, the Conference will focus on the sustainable use of energy, issues of development and clean environment friendly technologies for a better world. It will explore the factors that may affect energy sources and environmental issues associated with different energy use scenarios will be reviewed. Also, current energy usage patterns, future energy usage scenarios and environmental impacts of various energy use scenarios will be explored.

Sheikh Hamdan expressed hope that, during the meeting of Arab ministers of environment and energy on February 3, 2003, a joint declaration would be issued entitled 'Abu Dhabi Declaration on Energy and Environment' which will entail the beginnings of a complete Arab strategy on the subject and will be the basis of programmes and projects in cooperation with the relevant Arab ministerial councils and regional Arab organizations. This Declaration would also deal with the challenges globalisation introduces to this century to better serve the goals of present and future generations.

Moreover, Sheikh Hamdan says he hopes the ministerial meeting concludes with important recommendations for environmental organizations in the UAE and the Arab world on how to deal with the socio-economic implications and implications in general of energy-related policies on the environment. Sheikh Hamdan added that organizing this event for the second time is a good indication that the UAE is taking on an important role in conservation of the environment and wildlife development on the global level.

The patronage of the event by His Highness Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan is proof of his strong personal dedication to the cause of the environment. The International Energy Council holding its annual meeting in the UAE at the same time as the Conference is also evidence of the success of this initiative. The UAE houses the necessary infrastructure to host such an event on such a big scale after the success of Environment and Energy Conference and Exhibition 2001 which was also held in Abu Dhabi, his statement said. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)


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