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UAE presents interim report on key Ecological Footprint data

posted on 19/03/2008: 1220 views


The UAE's Al Basama Al Beeiya (Ecological Footprint) Initiative has presented an interim report comprising Population and Energy data to the Global Footprint Network (GFN), drawing praise from the international project partner for the quality of research into the two most important components of the national footprint account.

The research undertaken by the Al Basama Al Beeiya Initiative has resulted in a significant update of the population figures for footprint calculation and has brought greater insight to why Energy constitutes the biggest component of UAE's Ecological Footprint.

"The presentation of locally gathered and verified data was urgent and critical because we wanted them incorporated in the calculation of the UAE's Ecological Footprint for the 2008 Living Planet Report, which will be published later this year," said Razan Al Mubarak, who heads the Emirates Wildlife Society - World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF).

"We would not have been able to accomplish this without the wholehearted involvement of our partners and cooperation of our key national stakeholders such as the government ministries and public and private sector organizations from across the UAE," Al Mubarak said.

The partners in the project are the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), GFN and EWS-WWF. GFN, an international non-profit organization, compiles the Ecological Footprint data of over 150 nations for the Living Planet Report published biennially in cooperation with the World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF). "This is a significant milestone in the progress of the Al Basama Al Beeiya Initiative," said Mohammad Al Jawdar, General Coordinator at AGEDI.”

"The research we have undertaken has yielded a number of long-term benefits including the creation of a network of data sources, a data repository and the urgent need of a focal point for data communication internationally. We have also been able to identify interesting research areas that would need further focus if we look to establishing an accounting system for our resources and their consumption,” he said.

Elaborating on the interim report's findings, Al Jawdar said: "Energy embodied in trade has been found to be very high in the UAE since the country, apart from being an arid country with low natural resources, serves as a major re-export hub regionally?. Also, our research has revealed a higher population number than that previously considered for the purposes of Footprint calculation,” Al Jawdar added.

Dr. Mathis Wackernagel, Executive Director of GFN, described the UAE's research effort as excellent. "I would like to thank the UAE on the excellent report on population and energy. Thorough research has enabled us to revise the population number. This has allowed us to bring clarity to the various contradictory numbers that were quoted in a number of international statistics. The energy report is very valuable as well and moves us in the right direction. We are looking forward to seeing the complete report shortly.” he said in a communiqué to Al Basama Al Beeiya project team,' he added.

The UAE is the third country - after Switzerland and Japan - in the world to enter into a partnership with GFN to conduct in-depth research and refine the methodology of national footprint calculation.

"Clearly, in a world that is moving into ecological overshoot, it becomes more and more significant for nations to understand, with some sense of accuracy, how much ecological capacity a country has at its disposal and how much it takes to support its population? This is why the UAE's engagement with the Ecological Footprint is vital and enormously welcome. 'We look forward to our continuous collaboration- from strengthening and testing the Footprint accounts for the UAE to making it into a tool that can help support infrastructure decision-making in the UAE and beyond", Dr. Wackernagel said.

The Al Basama Al Beeiya team expects to complete the full report comprising further refinements to Energy and Population data as well as data on other components of the Footprint such as Food, Timber and Built Land, by June of this year. As part of its data hunt and verification, the Al Basama Al Beeiya team has met with a number of organizations in the UAE. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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