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UAE's achievements in environment lauded

posted on 04/02/2001: 2355 views


Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of State for Foreign Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, ERWDA, has praised the UAE's achievements in protecting the environment and wildlife, inspired by the clear vision of the President H. H. Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.



In a statement issued to mark UAE's 4th National Environment Day, which is being held this year under the theme "Development & Environment Integration not Collision,” Sheikh Hamdan said: "In line with the wise leadership of H.H. Sheikh Zayed and guidance of H.H. Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces and Chairman of ERWDA, the country has achieved tremendous accomplishments in the field of environment through legislating and issuing regulations aiming at protecting and developing environment and wildlife in the country.”



He said: "With a leadership strongly committed to environment and wildlife protection and conservation, the UAE focused its efforts in the last few years on implementing a comprehensive development plan taking into consideration environmental approaches among its top priorities.” Sheikh Hamdan added: "However, choosing "Development & Environment Integration not Collision” to be the theme of the 4th UAE National Environment Day underlines UAE's concern in achieving a balance between development and environmental protection to achieve sustainable development.” "Thus the organisation of the Environment 2001 Conference & Exhibition highlights the extensive efforts by the UAE government in the area of environment protection and in particular H. H. Sheikh Zayed's distinguished role. Where his patronage for this conference, is yet another evidence to his continuous commitment to environmental issues,” Sheikh Hamdan noted.



Talking about ERWDA's contribution in organising this conference which is being held under the title "Sustainable Development: Challenges and Solutions,” Sheikh Hamdan said: "It is part of the Agency's mission and its efforts to enhance sustainable development of Abu Dhabi's wildlife and a clean environment through finding solutions for the challenges of the 21st century.” He said: "We hope that this conference will come out with a number of recommendations which would help environmental agencies in UAE and the Arab world in developing their sustainable environmental projects and plans to meet the 21st century challenges.



We are also confident that The Abu Dhabi Declaration, which will be developed after much deliberation and discussion among Arab Ministers responsible for environment, will form the guidelines for the Arab environmental work strategies in the 21st century,” Sheikh Hamdan said.



In light with its efforts to balance sustainable development with protection of the environment, ERWDA has set up special centre for environmental services, to provide advice and planning inputs to the Government of Abu Dhabi on environmental matters such environmental impact assessment, monitoring of natural resources, land use and waste management.



The centre also issues permits and monitors and enforces compliance with the local and federal environmental laws especially after the Abu Dhabi Emirate Executive Council named ERWDA as the designated authority for environment and wildlife issues in the Emirate.



Sheikh Hamdan added: "The Environmental Strategic Plan for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which was developed by ERWDA in co-ordination with all concerned parties for five years (2000-2004), will also provide better means to follow up economical and social development in the Emirate and monitor its environmental impacts. Sheikh Hamdan said that the Working Groups, which consists of representatives from all concerned parties, drew up joint strategies for the Emirate.



Much of the data, which was collected during the last year, is now being analysed to outline a joint action plan by the end of the first quarter of year 200, he said. "The strategy is aimed at developing environmental regulatory and monitoring systems, managing fisheries, use of water resources and wildlife, in addition to increasing environmental awareness and education” he noted.



Reviewing the Agency achievements in the last year, Sheikh Hamdan said during the year 2000, ERWDA was able to complete many projects and formulated plans to meet Abu Dhabi Emirate's environmental challenges in the new millennium as well as to achieve its mission and vision. ERWDA was involved during last year in a coastal and marine sensitivity-mapping project as part of a greater effort to identify sensitive marine and coastal areas in the Emirate.



The project aimed at identifying mangroves, sea grass, corals and other sensitive ecological systems to be given priority in the event of an oil spill. The year also witnessed the outlining of a working draft of general guidelines to deal with oil pollution. Sheikh Hamdan noted that



ERWDA also launched last year a fisheries programme to register fishermen and fishing boats in line with Federal Law no. 23 for 1999 for the protection and development of marine resources in the UAE. "In light with Abu Dhabi Strategic Plan, ERWDA started during the year to put in place a fisheries strategy with the help of a working group consisting of officials from the Ministry of the Interior, the Ministry of Agriculture and Fisheries, and the Federal Environmental Agency,” Sheikh Hamdan added.



Available information on fisheries was also analysed in the year, and a study on data made available on fish landings and fishing efforts was conducted, in addition to establishing a fish laboratory. The marine environment laboratory was upgraded during the year with sensitive equipment that can detect pollution in the marine environment at low concentration.



In relation to marine wildlife, ERWDA continued its projects to study habitats, geographical distribution, population, and the biology of marine turtles and dugongs, which are considered endangered species, to aid their conservation. The year also witnessed the commencement of a study on corals to identify their habitats and the risks that might threaten their existence. Sheikh Hamdan added that the Agency also began to study water resources as one of the most pressing issues impacting the Emirate of Abu Dhabi in an aim to manage water resources in a cost-effective and sustainable way. (The Emirates News Agency, WAM)

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