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THE COUNTRY & THE ENVIRONMENT - ENVIRONMENT


UAE participates in OPEC coordinating meeting on New Climate Change Agreement


posted on 30/07/2015

VIENNA: A delegation from the United Arab Emirates participated in the Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) coordination meeting in the context of climate change, in Vienna, Austria, held from 27th-28th July 2015.
The meeting focused on the latest developments in international climate change negotiations under the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), which are expected to deliver a new agreement in Paris, France, in December 2015.
Over the two days, participants discussed how OPEC countries could ensure that their collective interests are reflected in the new agreement, with a particular focus on issues relating to the energy sector and possibilities for incorporating carbon capture and storage (CCS) into the new agreement.
The UAE delegation was led by Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Permanent Representative to International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Director of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, and included delegates from the Ministry of Energy and the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi.
"The UAE was one of the key driving Parties to the UNFCCC, which successfully negotiated the inclusion of CCS into the clean development mechanism – which is the main market mechanism under the Kyoto Protocol," said Dr. Al Zeyoudi. "We, along with our OPEC partners, hope to see the conclusion of a successful new agreement, which supports our continued sustainable development, as well as our economic and energy diversification."
The UAE is continuously making improvements in the energy sector's efficiencies. The UAE was the first country in the region to ban gas flaring in 1995, making its production as one of the most carbon efficient in the industry. The UAE has also been pioneering the CCS technology as a key tool to mitigate CO2 emissions to curb climate change. Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) and Masdar are initiating the region's first utility scale carbon capture project.
The meeting also discussed energy matters addressed under the on-going negotiations at the United Nations on global goals and targets for sustainable development to 2030. The UAE has been a strong advocate for addressing energy as a key enabler for development. While access to modern energy is not a domestic issue, the UAE has undertaken many initiatives to increase energy efficiency and the share of renewable energy in its domestic energy mix.
OPEC was established in 1960, with the mandate to coordinate and unify the petroleum policies of its members, and ensure the stabilisation of oil markets. OPEC comprises of 12 members: Algeria, Angola, Ecuador, Iran, Iraq, Kuwait, Libya, Nigeria, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Venezuela and the United Arab Emirates. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395283805002.html

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UAE participates in GGGI’s 7th Council meeting in Bali


posted on 27/07/2015

BALI, INDONESIA: The UAE has participated in the 7th session of Council of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI), which was held in the Indonesian Island of Bali under the chairmanship of Dr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, former Indonesian President and the President of the General Assembly and Council of the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI).
With the participation of a large number of high-level officials from Member States of the Organisation, the UAE delegation to the meeting was led by Dr. Thani Ahmad Al- Zouaydi, UAE Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Director of the Department of Energy Affairs and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
On this occasion, Al- Zouaydi said the UAE interest and its commitment to green development reflects the vision of its wise leadership in accessing to more sustainable future to achieve energy security and reduce environmental risks along with acceleration of the process of social and economic development.
He also said that the UAE is one of the founding countries of the Global Green Growth Institute and is an active member of the organisation' council since its inception and contributed through its distinctive participation in highlighting the leading role of the country and its commitment towards achieving sustainable development and green growth locally and regionally.
The participants discussed during the meeting held from 22nd to 24th July, many of the key strategic issues of the organisation and the progress of its programmes and plans of work in the Member States and the mechanism of its development. They also discussed the budget and financial issues of the organisation and the partnership between the organisation and other relevant international bodies, in addition to many other administrative issues that were on the agenda. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395283665152.html

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UAE partakes in pre-COP21 ministerial-level meeting in Paris


posted on 23/07/2015

PARIS: The UAE has participated in a two-day preparatory ministerial-level meeting of the 21st session of the Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, COP21, to be held from 30th November to 30th December, 2015, in Paris.
Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, who represented the UAE at the pre-COP21 meeting, told participants that all parties to the convention recognise the climate change challenges.
The UAE ratified the Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, in December 1995 and was the first country to ratify the second Kyoto Protocol phase in 2012.
The aim of COP21 is to reach, for the first time, a universal, legally binding agreement that will enable us to combat climate change effectively and boost the transition towards resilient, low-carbon societies and economies.
Al Jaber stressed the need to distinguish between the future commitments of advanced and developing countries to reducing CO2 emissions, which should strike a balance between the responsibility of industrialised countries for large rates of emissions, on the one hand, and the need for allowing developing countries, which have not contributed to the current challenges, to complete developing their infrastructure for various sectors, on the other.
Al Jaber called for intensifying efforts in the lead up to the COP21 conference in December to support the conclusion of an agreement that would enable all countries to take clear measures to curb the consequences of climate change while taking into account the different priorities of each country.
"The directives of the UAE leadership focus on co-operation with the international community and substantial efforts to reduce the consequences of climate change," he said, stressing that the UAE considers climate change as a challenge that can be countered through focussing on positive opportunities made available by innovative solutions.
He noted that the UAE and its regional partners, member states of the GCC in particular, are coordinating efforts to include their economic diversification strategies in a new pact, as these strategies ensure energy security through a diversified energy mix that includes hydrocarbons, peaceful nuclear power and renewable energy.
Al Jaber also urged participants to adopt the UAE's positive vision focussed on finding practical and innovative solutions through renewable energy projects that create new jobs as well as through drafting legislation that ensures a desired balance between the demands of development in developing countries and the international community's contribution towards reducing CO2 emissions.
The minister noted that during the past two days of the COP21 ministerial-level meetings, participants edged closer to consensus on clarifying the differences on how to define a developing country and an advanced country. He said he believes the meetings will help reach a better understanding of the varied and common responsibilities of all countries, where the participation of all involved parties should take into account the circumstances of each involved country.
He further noted that for the UAE and its regional partners, any new convention should be in line with the foundations of COP21 and provide support and opportunities for the desired continuous sustainable development and economic progress through diversifying sources of income.
On the fringe of the Paris ministerial-level meeting, French Foreign Minister, Laurent Fabius, the next chair of COP21, held bilateral meetings with participating ministers and officials to discuss ways of bolstering bilateral cooperation with their respective countries. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395283575324.html

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Abu Dhabi International Airport renews commitment to help fight climate change


posted on 06/07/2015

Abu Dhabi International Airport, AUH, has again earned the accreditation level of ‘mapping' from ACI Airport Carbon Accreditation for the third time, in recognition of its efforts to manage carbon dioxide emissions.
In 2011, AUH was the first airport outside of Europe to be ACI Airport Carbon Accredited, and in 2013 the airport renewed its submission to maintain its mapping level accreditation within the programme.
This year, Abu Dhabi Airports initiated its third application to the programme by mapping emissions sources within the direct operational boundaries of Abu Dhabi International Airport, as defined by the programme, calculating the volume of annual carbon emissions and compiling a carbon footprint report. Abu Dhabi International Airport's carbon footprint was then verified by an independent party in accordance with ISO14064, Greenhouse Gas Accounting. The verified airport footprint forms the baseline measure to which future activities and reduction targets will be aligned.
Commenting on the accreditation, Ahmad Al Haddabi, Chief Operations Officer at Abu Dhabi Airports, said, "Environmental impact is directly linked to the operational efficiency of Abu Dhabi International Airport, and we are committed to reducing greenhouse gas emissions to have a positive effect on the local and global environment, whilst operating more effectively. As Abu Dhabi Airports builds the new Midfield Terminal at Abu Dhabi International Airport, one of the largest infrastructure projects in the UAE, sustainable design and environmental impact are key guidelines, setting a new standard for the construction and operation of airports around the globe."
Airport Carbon Accreditation is an independent programme administered by WSP Environment and Energy, an international consultancy appointed by ACI EUROPE to enforce the accreditation criteria for airports on an annual basis. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282875319.html

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UAE Ministry of Environment and Water’s sustainability efforts yield results


posted on 01/07/2015

Within its framework to ensure the implementation of federal legislation related to the environment, including legislation and regulations for cement plants, the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water recently conducted day and night-time field inspections of all operational cement plants.
The move forms part of the efforts of the Ministry's External Audit Sector to achieve the targets of the national agenda under the UAE Vision 2021, with a special focus on environmental protection and sustainability. Moreover, the visits were in line with the Ministry's strategic goals such as promoting environmental sustainability.
A team of specialists from the External Audit Sector conducted both scheduled and surprise visits to nearly 20 cement plants as part of their annual evaluation process for ensuring complete implementation of the legislation.
Saif Mohammed Al Shara, Assistant Under-Secretary of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water's External Audit Sector, said that the UAE is witnessing a boom in the construction and infrastructure sectors with more future growth expected in real estate projects in the coming years. Cement plants play important roles in supporting the development process and should therefore follow proper regulations and legislations related to the protection of the environment, the preservation of natural resources, and the health of residents of the UAE.
According to Al Shara, the latest assessment results for these plants, which are generally classified into four categories, showed significant progress in their level of commitment towards the laws and legislation. The annual evaluation revealed that for 2014, these plants recorded a significant increase in Category A and reached 60 percent, compared with 39 percent for 2013.
Al Shara said that Category B rose by 35 percent in 2014, compared with 33 percent in 2013. Category C, on the other hand, fell to their lowest levels to reach 5 percent in year 2014 compared to 17 percent in 2013. Category D is no longer classified.
Al Shara said that the strong commitment from cement plants is a result of the Ministry's continuous and persistent efforts to inform relevant parties about legislation as well as ensure its strict implementation. This was done by disseminating the information about the regulation and its updates through various media channels, specially the Ministry's website, along with direct communication through field visits and workshops for plant operators.
In addition, the Ministry has organised training sessions for local authorities' inspectors about the procedures and inspection requirements for verifying that these plants are meeting the requirements and are applying the decisions to organise their work. The Ministry published its decisions and updates via various Arabic and English media channels. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282680423.html

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UAE’s concentration of air pollutants within permissible national limits: Ministry of Environment and Water


posted on 30/06/2015

Fahad Mohammad Hareb, Director of the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water's Air Quality Department, has said that country's Atmospheric Particulate Matter, also known as particulate matter, PM, or particulates, PM 2,5 levels as per the latest National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, NOAA), annual study via satellite did not exceed an annual concentration of 30mg per m3 comparable to the World Health Organisation guidelines.
The WHO's Regional Strategy for Health and Environment 2014-2019 for the Eastern Mediterranean noted that the UAE has very low mortality resulting from environmental consequences compared to other countries in the region. The results confirm that the country has undertaken significant efforts to improve the ambient air quality as an important component associated with quality of life. It also highlights the UAE National Agenda which will advances UAE Vision 2021's goal of ensuring high quality of life for its citizens and residents in a sustainable environment.
According to the Ministry of Environment and Water, Hareb said that air quality is one of the leading priorities under the UAE's National Agenda because it is associated directly with human health, the environment and its impact on the economy. The country attaches great importance to improving air quality by achieving 90% of the WHO Air Quality guidelines as a target by 2021. Therefore, efforts have been taken to properly monitor and regulate emission levels throughout the UAE at federal and local levels.
He added, "We continue to strengthen both human and financial capacities in the field of monitoring and controlling through a large network of stations. There are currently 46 air quality monitoring stations in addition to a range of dust monitoring stations in crusher and quarry sites and cement factories. The UAE has directed special attention towards the development of legislative frameworks necessary to reduce pollutants and emissions in order to improve air quality."
The minister said that the UAE's air quality is exposed to many natural and manmade pressures as a result of development factors such as the increase in the number of industrial facilities, the rise in energy and water consumption, and growth in the number of vehicles due to the population's growth and demand. Electricity consumption for air-conditioning consumes over 51% of a buildings annual electricity consumption, needed to ensure comfortable living standards within the region, but even though consumption levels are over 90%, the fuel for the production of this energy is natural gas, the cleanest and most efficient form of producing electricity from a carbon based fuel.
Vehicle exhaust emissions are the next biggest contributor to the air emissions in the UAE followed by heavy manufacturing industries. While all measures are being undertaken by authorities to reduce emissions and improve air quality, it must be noted that the natural environment in the region is also a big contributor to the air quality, from naturally airborne dust particles to major sand storms, as well as high humidity and naturally emitted minerals from coastal areas.
In the context of promoting environmental sustainability, Hareb said that the Ministry is implementing all measures to transform the national economy into a low-carbon and green economy. It has accordingly launched a series of initiatives aimed at reducing pollutant concentrations, including the National Strategy for Green Development, promoting broader public transport, use of cleaner fuels such as unleaded gasoline, low-sulphur or green diesel and natural gas as an alternative fuel for vehicles, and the use of renewable and nuclear energy for generating electricity.
In addition, it promotes Green Building Standards and green applications in government buildings such as district cooling technology which cuts down electricity usage by approximately 75 per cent while raising the efficiency of the air-conditioning system to improve performance and consequently reduce the environmental footprint. In cooperation with the federal and local authorities, the Ministry is encouraging all sectors to adopt initiatives and implement programmes to improve air quality and reduce emissions to secure a healthy environment and reduce the rate of pollution.
He also added that the UAE is exerting great effort in monitoring ambient air quality, noting that data provided by monitoring stations on ambient air quality measure all the criteria required to calculate the air quality index as per the National Agenda. Air Quality National limits and permissible levels have all been previously set in accordance with the Council of Ministers Decree No. 12 for 2006 concerning air pollution, and Hareb said, "Currently, we are working on a study to develop a national standard for PM 2,5."
In line with its ongoing efforts to improve the quality of ambient air, the Ministry recently signed an agreement with seven governmental agencies for the launch of the UAE Air Quality Network. Hareb revealed that the Ministry has signed a contract with Masdar Institute of Science and Technology to study the relationship between fine particles, in addition to air quality monitoring via satellite.
Another project for reducing emissions from the transport sector is the use of natural gas as an alternative fuel. Technical regulations, standards and guides for vehicle conversion to natural gas were planned and developed, with the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company converting around 2,900 buses and taxis in Abu Dhabi and opening 16 refuelling stations. Additionally, Emirates Transport has converted over 1,600 taxis to operate on natural gas, and work is currently under way to introduce hybrid vehicles as well as plug-in electric vehicles to the UAE market to greatly reduce traffic emissions within city streets.
Hareb also highlighted that with regards to improving the quality of fuel used in the transport sector, the Council of Ministers had issued a decision in 2013 to update product specifications related to diesel to reduce the percentage of sulphur from 500 parts per million (ppm) to 10 ppm or below, this is now in effect, and is required that all diesel fuel used in the country conforms to this standard. This will greatly contribute to the reduction of emissions of sulphur dioxide from diesel engines and thereby improve the air quality. The UAE is the Middle East's first country to support this type of diesel. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282620229.html

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Ministry of Environment and Water’s call centre project wins award in GCC category


posted on 25/06/2015

The Ministry of Environment and Water has won the Best Call Centre Project - GCC Region category from the International Quality and Productivity Centre, IQPC. The award was given in recognition of parties who have demonstrated a commitment to develop their call centres. The Ministry of Environment and Water was recognised for its strong commitment to establish a world-class call centre.
Sultan Alwan, Assistant Under-Secretary of Region Sector, said that the Ministry's latest recognition adds to its growing list of achievements in its efforts to deliver the highest level of customer satisfaction, saying that the award serves as strong motivation to boost its efforts to develop and implement the necessary steps to provide its customers with maximum comfort and the highest quality of service.
Alwan added that the honour further pushes the Ministry to continuously launch various initiatives and projects aimed at enhancing its services and developing new channels of communication with its customers. The effort is in line with its mission to deliver services in accordance with international quality, efficiency and transparency standards.
Alwan also emphasised that the award-winning call centre project is part of the Ministry's initiative to apply the highest quality standards in terms of dealing with suppliers through various channels. The project also aims to create a unified communication channel to efficiently respond to all inquiries, suggestions and observations, adding that this can be accomplished by making the call centre the major front for customer service requirements through the telephone.
Alwan said that the project has three main objectives, one of which is to further improve the current call centre through the extension of working hours, the application of quality communication standards, and the establishment of an efficient channel to provide service. In addition, the Ministry is also developing various effective channels to efficiently elicit feedback, submit proposals and receive communications.
Alwan added that the project also aims to identify various communication channels specifically designed for dealers, partners and employees. Lastly, he said the initiative aspires to develop a transparent communication system within the Ministry. . – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282393629.html

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UAE Ministry of Environment and Water calls for participation in GCC Awards for Environment and Wildlife


posted on 24/06/2015

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water has called upon all individuals, institutions and companies working in the environment and wildlife sector to participate in the Gulf Cooperation Council Award for the Environment and Wildlife.
The award aims to encourage individual and collective initiatives undertaken to preserve the environment and wildlife, inspiring innovation and creativity to contribute towards sustainable development while raising awareness among GCC countries.
The GCC Secretariat-General has announced the launch of Gulf Cooperation Council Award for the Environment and Wildlife 2015. The award seeks to play an effective role in the preservation of the environment and conservation of natural resources and at the same time stimulate society in the Gulf to foster a more caring attitude towards the regional environment.
The award consists of eight categories, including Best Research in the Field of Environment and Best Research in the Field of Wildlife. The award for Best Media Work, including Environmental Journalism for printed media, Best Documentary Film, Best Investigative Journalism, Best Picture and the Best Article, is divided into two sub-categories: one for high school students and another for individuals 18 years and above.
The fourth category is for the Best Protected Area in the GCC countries, while the fifth is for the Best Volunteer Working in the Field of Environment and Wildlife. In addition to the award for Environmental Awareness and Personal Environment and Wildlife, there is also the Best Industrial Foundation Committed to Environmental Conditions Award.
The Secretariat-General has set July 15th, 2015, as the deadline for the submission of nominations, with the winners are to be honoured at an awards ceremony which will be held on October 12th, 2015 in Qatar. Those wishing to file for nomination can find the terms and conditions of the awards on the website.
The award is being organised following a decision in the fourth meeting of the GCC Ministers Responsible for Environmental Affairs which convened in 1994. The first awards were held in April, 1999, in Qatar. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282311991.html

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Experts convene to discuss climate change and potential solutions in the Gulf region


posted on 23/06/2015

The UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has co-organised a workshop with the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, UNFCCC, and United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, on the Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative, LAKI, for the Gulf Cooperation Council region, in Abu Dhabi. The workshop was hosted by the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative, AGEDI.
Impacts of climate change, such as increasing or decreasing rainfall and temperature, are expected to affect the Gulf region and its ecosystems in many ways. These include the effects on agricultural production, water availability, coastal infrastructures, biodiversity and human health. Governments around the world are taking measures to adapt to, and be prepared for, potential impacts of climate change.
However, gaps in knowledge, be they insufficient rainfall data, accurate mapping of fauna and flora, robust projection of sea level rise, or economic analysis of costs of inaction, are often cited as barriers for successful adaptation actions. The LAKI workshop aimed to enhance successful adaptation actions in the Gulf region by identifying and prioritising knowledge of these gaps and how to close them.
"Adaptation to climate change is an important agenda for all, but particularly for the Gulf region with high summer temperatures and scarce water resources," said Ali Al Shafar, Deputy-Director, Directorate of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs.
"This workshop helped take stock of what is already in the region and identify ways in which we can address gaps in order for the region to be better prepared for impacts of climate change and achieving sustainable development."
Participants acknowledged that while there are good examples of policy interventions and research, more could be done. Specific feedback included fostering governance mechanisms at the national level for evidence-based decision making and effective implementation, as well as strengthening regional cooperation for unified data gathering, monitoring and capacity building.
"We are very pleased to hold this workshop in cooperation with the government of the United Arab Emirates" said, Dr. Iyad Abumoghli, Director and Regional Representative of UNEP Regional Office for West Asia. "For the first time, climate experts gathered to identify the knowledge needed to address adaptation to climate change. The workshop highlighted a number of important work carried out in the Gulf region as well as challenges that could inspire others for appropriate adaptation measures."
"We are immensely grateful to the leadership of the government of UAE in hosting the LAKI workshop in Abu Dhabi," said Dr. Youssef Nassef, Coordinator of Adaptation Programme, UNFCCC Secretariat. "A list of 10 priority adaptation knowledge needs, together with actions required to address them, emerged from the workshop and will serve as a solid foundation for state and non-state entities to work together towards a more climate resilient GCC region through an enhanced adaptation knowledge base."
"We are pleased to be engaged in the strategic and timely Lima Adaptation Knowledge Initiative, as it is an opportunity for all to capitalise on the AGEDI's work programme on climate change which extends beyond Abu Dhabi and the UAE into the Arabian Peninsula to help guide informed decision-making across the region, and for AGEDI to further align with our colleagues on the regional level," said Ahmed Abdulmuttaleb Baharoon, Acting Director of AGEDI, the lead technical coordinating agency at the GCC level for the Initiative.
The workshop participants included researchers from international organisations and academic institutions from the region, representatives from UAE federal and local entities as well as those engaged in international climate change negotiations. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282232096.html

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Abu Dhabi to host Eye on Earth Summit in October


posted on 22/06/2015

Abu Dhabi is set to host the Eye on Earth Summit, to be held from 6th - 8th October 2015. The summit will be the world's foremost event dedicated to identifying solutions for greater access to, and sharing of, environmental, social and economic data to address sustainable development.
Reconvening thought leaders, policy makers and innovators from government, UN agencies, NGOs, the private sector, academia and civil society, Eye on Earth Summit 2015 will seek to better understand the supply and demand of data necessary to secure the future of our planet.
Despite technological and scientific advancements, decision makers often lack vital data on the state of the world's resources. This problem is known as the "data gap", and filling it is critical to the post-2015 development agenda, the shared framework for global action and cooperation on development for the next 15 years.
The Eye on Earth movement, which oversees the summit, extends the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative's core mission to facilitate access to quality environmental data that equips policy makers with actionable, timely information to inform and guide critical decisions towards a sustainable future.
"Lending our support to international initiatives like Eye on Earth is necessary to help us realise the sustainable development goals globally and locally under the UAE Vision 2021 National Agenda and the Abu Dhabi Environment Policy Agenda," said Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.
"As a catalysing force for environmental protection, as well as being the lead authority for environmental regulation and control, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi and our respective divisions must work alongside local and international stakeholders to gain a deeper understanding of our environmental reality," she added.
The Eye on Earth Summit 2015 will cast a spotlight on the role that governments, technology, the scientific community and citizen participation play in closing the data gap and enhancing access to quality data. With close to 30 sessions over the course of three days, delegates will learn about the potential for 'big data' to save the planet and how it can drive the necessary institutional change governments need to make in order to decouple economic growth from the rate of natural resource consumption. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282176840.html

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Ministry of Environment and Water says it is on-track for hosting 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol


posted on 18/06/2015

The Ministry of Environment and Water has said that it is on-track with their preparations to host the 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol on Substances Depleting the Ozone Layer at the end of this year in Dubai.
In line with this, the Ministry has signed a Memorandum of Agreement (MoA) with the Secretariat of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol during a recent series of preparation meetings held in Vienna, Austria.
The meetings, which were held under the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), was approved by the open-ended Working Group of Member States of the Montreal Protocol during its 35th meeting in Bangkok last April.
Present during the signing were Abdul Rahim Al Hammadi, Assistant Under-Secretary for Environmental Affairs, Ministry of Environment and Water; Dr. Saad Al Numairi, Advisor to the Ministry of Environment and Water, along with representatives from 20 countries, which also includes the current European Union representative and members of the open-ended working group.
The meeting also discussed the possibility of establishing a contact group and determining its mandate on the feasibility and methods of the management of HCFCs, which will be discussed at its next meeting in Paris on August 20 to August 24, 2015.
According to Al Hammadi, hosting the 27th Meeting of the Parties to the Montreal Protocol in Dubai from November 1 to November 5, 2015, reflects the UAE's steadfast commitment to the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer, as well as its ongoing support to all relevant regional and international efforts in the field.
He also added that the international cooperation is an integral component of the national agenda, which remains dedicated to strengthening communication channels and addressing international environmental problems.
Al Hammadi added that signing the agreement with UNEP signals the beginning of the UAE's preparations as the host country, which will include key duties such as establishing a smooth work flow for the convention and developing an agenda that will foster the development of plans and programs for achieving the objectives of the protocol agreement which will culminate in a decision that all 197 member state will adhere to.
The conference will be attended by more than 50 ministers and key influencers from environmental, labour, economic and industrial sectors. In addition, it will also feature the participation of notable leaders of international organisations, along with 500 top-ranking representatives from the United Nations, the private sector, universities, research centres, and regional organisations.
The UAE's plans to host the conference in Dubai was announced during the 10th Meeting of the Conference of the Vienna Convention for the Protection of the Ozone Layer, and the Montreal Protocol on Substances that Deplete the Ozone Layer which was held last November in Paris.
The UAE recently established a programme that aims to dispose of HCFC compounds, an ingredient toxic to the ozone layer which has been widely used in refrigeration and sponge production industries since 2012. This policy represents one of the many green initiatives being developed in agreement with the provisions of the Montreal Protocol, particularly in observance of the Council of Ministers Decision No. 26 of 2014 which sets national objectives to reduce the consumption of substances that deplete the ozone layer. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395282031814.html

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UAE Ministry of Environment hosts workshop on ‘Remote Sensing Applications to Monitor Oil Spill and Algal Bloom in ROPME Sea Area’


posted on 12/06/2015

Under the patronage of Dr. Rashid Ahmad bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment and Water, and in cooperation with the Regional Organisation for the Protection of the Marine Environment (ROPME), the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water recently hosted a regional workshop on Remote Sensing Applications to Monitor Oil Spill and Algal Bloom (Red Tide) in ROPME Sea Area.
The workshop was organised in line with the Ministry's eagerness to enhance environmental sustainability as a commitment to protect the marine and coastal ecosystems and their biodiversity, complementing UAE Vision 2021 to ensure a sustainable living environment and fully integrated infrastructure. The seminar brought together all member states of ROPME along with a number of government entities, local authorities, and stakeholders from the UAE.
Salem Akram, Director of UAE Ministry of Environment and Water's Marine and Coastal Sustainability Department welcomed all attendees and participants on behalf of Mariam Saeed Hareb, Acting Assistant Under-Secretary for Water Resources and Nature Conservation. He highlighted the efforts of the ROPME and Member States to preserve the marine environment while addressing the challenges faced to enhance marine sustainability.
He added that the workshop was organised to highlight the importance of marine and coastal environment and the pressures encountered by it in the past for being the UAE's one of the primary natural resources. The Ministry is working hard to maintain it for the future generations by adopting global best practices and contributing towards technical capacity building.
Akram said that the ROPME has chosen three models, namely; monitoring from the coast, monitoring from the sea, and monitoring from the space to watch its sea area for pollutants. The Remote Sensing Station based in ROPME's headquarters in Kuwait is the first of its kind station in the region to check oil pollution particularly in its maritime boundary, in addition to monitoring the polluted water flow from ground sources that form algal bloom. The images received by this station range in sizes of 250, 500 and 1000 square meter. Through this technology, the organisation will address any abnormal phenomenon observed in the marine area in a timely manner through an early warning, notifying the Member States to take the necessary measures to protect their marine environment along with the coasts, beaches and other vital facilities.
Aside from promoting the cognitive abilities, the workshop supports the exchange of knowledge and experience in monitoring pollutants in coastal areas using the latest technologies. It involves taking samples from different locations and analysing it; studying oil and non-oil pollutants; measuring the degree of salinity, chlorophyll concentration and temperature of waters of the region; monitoring changes in the marine environment; and observing oil slicks and algal bloom. All this is done through Moderate Resolution Imaging Spectroradiometer (MODIS), a key instrument aboard the National Aeronautics and Space Administration's (NASA) Aqua and TERRA satellites.
The Ministry of Environment and Water has developed a National Strategy for the Sustainability of Marine and Coastal Environment with an aim to increase awareness about sustainable use of marine and coastal resources and integrate them in planning and decision-making processes. Federal and local policies will be developed to enhance biodiversity, rehabilitate the degraded coastal ecosystems, increase the percentage of protected coastal and marine areas, and establish a network of ecological systems and manage them effectively. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281748869.html

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Sunni Cultural Centre University in India launches "Sheikh Zayed Peace Tree" project


posted on 08/06/2015

The administration of the Sunni Cultural Centre University in India has launched the "Sheikh Zayed Peace Tree" project which aims to plant one million trees in various parts of India. The move is part of the University's celebration to mark the World Environment Day on the 5th of June.
The administration has planted hundreds of trees in the Knowledge City in the region of Kaithapoyil, which covers nearly 120 acre, where Sheikh Abu Bakr Ahmad, Head of the Sunni Cultural Centre University, planted Sheikh Zayed Peace Tree in the city of Ajmer in Rajasthan.
Sheikh Abu Bakr stressed that to name the project after the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan comes in recognition of the efforts of this sincere leader who transformed the United Arab Emirates from desert to a green oasis. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281574723.html

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Bin Fahad participates in Ministers of Agricultural forum in Expo Milan 2015


posted on 06/06/2015

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, took part in the Ministers agricultural forum featured in Expo Milan 2015 alongside ministers from other participant countries.
This year's edition of the expo is being held under the slogan, ‘From Expo Milano 2015 and Beyond: Agriculture to Feed the Planets,' and is set to take place from June 4 to 5, 2015. The UAE's participation in the forum reflects its steadfast commitment to contribute to the global effort to establish sustainable development throughout the international community.
During the ‘Food Security and Information and Communication Technologies (ICT)' session, Dr. Bin Fahad asserted how food security is a top priority in the UAE which recognises the urgent need to address current social and environmental challenges.
He also noted that ICT is integral to the growth and development of the economy and that it plays a crucial role in encouraging innovation and new business opportunities in the field of food security and other vital sectors.
Bin Fahad also emphasised the need to establish, enhance and implement national strategies for smart agriculture, and the value of integrating ICT in rural development to support food security and address food shortage.
He encouraged parties in the agricultural sector to actively collaborate and exchange knowledge on the latest technological advancements and pioneering practices in the field. Moreover, he explained the importance of using ICT to help individuals, communities and countries effectively prevent and adapt to potential food crises.
The Ministry will hold a series of meetings at the UAE pavilion to discuss vital matters in relation to the nation's economy, food and biological security, and its smart transformation. In addition, it will also outline initiatives that will soon be implemented in line with the objectives of the UAE Vision 2021. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281509760.html

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Ministry of Environment and Water launches UAE State of Environment Report 2015 in Expo Milano


posted on 05/06/2015

MILAN, ITALY: Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, has announced the launch of the UAE State of Environment Report 2015 at the UAE Pavilion and Business Centre of Expo Milano 2015.
The Ministry is the official sponsor of the UAE Pavilion and Business Centre at Expo Milano 2015 running under the slogan of ‘Commercial and Future Business Developments.' The pavilion is hosting governmental and semi-governmental institutions to showcase the country's most important projects and highlight major projects in the environment, food, energy and technology sectors.
According to Bin Fahad, the launch of the UAE State of Environment Report 2015 is in conjunction with World Environment Day and reviews the country's current environmental situation. It highlights the challenges faced by the sector in light of comprehensive development and rising population which are underscoring the pressures of limited environmental resources and increasing competitiveness in various economic sectors. He noted that the report will showcase the UAE's environmental situation and achievements in the past few years attained with the cooperation of all concerned agencies and authorities within the environment sector.
Bin Fahad praised their on-going efforts to achieve the sustainable development goals in various fields, through which the UAE is looking to position itself among the world's best countries by 2021.
The Minister added that the UAE has adopted a group of policies in the past concerning clean energy, green architecture, and sustainable transport as well as actively promoted the efficient use of resources to reduce any negative impact.
The report demonstrates the efforts of all the concerned authorities in the country to improve environmental performance and enhance sustainability. He explained that the report analyses the prevailing environmental situation with the help of the latest available data, with the belief that transparency is the first diagnostic step towards practical solutions for further enhancement.
Moreover, Bin Fahad said that the report consists of a brief introduction and six sections detailing the UAE's social and economic development and their impact on environmental resources along with the policies drafted and implemented for sustainable environment management. The report also reviews the set of priorities in the UAE's environmental sector such as air quality, water and land resources, and the challenges faced in the past and in the future vis-a-vis natural and human pressures.
The report provides important and valuable information on the state of the environment which will be an important tool for policy and decision makers in the field of sustainable development as well as for those interested in environmental affairs, including specialists, researchers and students. It also promotes environmental awareness among different segments of society, forming a standard for an integrated environmental database subject to growth and development with the coming reports.
The report addresses the social, economic and demographic characteristics of the country and the significant increase in population and age structure. It also highlights the demand for energy because of the economic growth and the impact of this progress on the social, health, banking and environmental sectors.
The report consists of seven sections that address a number of environmental indicators in the UAE, illustrating the extent of change in the local environment. The Driving Forces-Pressures-State-Impacts-Response (DPSIR) Methodology was used to highlight the driving forces that lead to the emergence of pressures on the environment. It describes the present state of the environment, the extent of the future impact of these pressures, and procedures that the country is taking to protect the environment from these effects.
The UAE recently launched the first edition of the ‘UAE State of Green Economy Report 2014' which aims to provide information on the progress being made in the implementation of the UAE Green Growth Strategy. In addition, it also released the UAE Green Agenda as a framework for unified action to propel this strategy to achieve the goals of sustainable development and the implementation of the green economy approach. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281487971.html

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Environment Minister: Consumption patterns are major challenges to move towards sustainable development in the region and beyond


posted on 05/06/2015

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, has asserted that current consumption patterns are major challenges to the move towards sustainable development in the region and beyond. The minister noted that present consumption rates are exceeding the Earth's regeneration capacity and undermine the global community's efforts to achieve sustainable growth.
In a press statement on the occasion of World Environment Day celebrations, Dr. Rashid said that unsustainable consumption patterns are mainly responsible for the many environmental problems faced by society, such as pollution, depletion of natural resources, loss of biodiversity, and climate change. He also stated that in light of this information, it has become more urgent to reconsider on-going patterns of production and consumption.
He explained that the event theme, ‘Seven Billion Dreams. One Planet. Let's Consume with Care' addresses the growing concern posed by the irresponsible consumption of resources and the need to move towards sustainable patterns of consumption. This is especially vital as the latest studies predict that the world's population will reach nine billion by 2050, which means that current consumption patterns will require three Earths to meet demands.
The Minister said that the excessive consumption of resources in the UAE may be more severe compared with other regions in the world as a result of comprehensive development initiatives, population growth, and improved income levels. He noted the limited environmental resources in the country which are highly sought after by both the general population and various development sectors. The effects of over-consumption can be seen through noticeable indicators such as the country's ecological footprint, fresh water uptake, waste production, and greenhouse gas emissions, all of which are being recorded at levels higher than the global average.
Concerned authorities within the UAE have joined forces to combat these negative effects through the development of programs and initiatives that focus on two main areas. The first component aims to mitigate the negative environmental impact associated with traditional patterns of consumption. This objective will be realized through the enhancement of existing legislation meant to regulate economic development and human activities that could potentially harm the environment. Improvements include adopting green policies, promoting the use of renewable and alternative energy, exploring carbon capture and storage techniques, advocating cleaner production, pursuing green architecture, and implementing sustainable transport. This goal can also be achieved by fostering essential national values for enhancing the water and energy efficiency of household appliances, reviewing modern agricultural and irrigation patterns, and establishing ecologically conscious economic habits.
Mr bin Fahad specifically referred to the UAE Strategy for Green Development, under which the green economy approach was adopted in the context of sustainable development. He noted that this strategy is crucial to gaining a deeper understanding of the value of imported and exported goods and services harnessed from the ecosystem, and thus provides a better assessment of natural capital's actual value in the process of decision making and in the context of financial accounting systems. This is an important element in the effort to create sustainable consumption patterns through integration with the economic mechanism.
The second path focuses on raising awareness on sustainable consumption patterns among various segments of society. In addition to the approved awareness programs instigated by participating organizations, the UAE has launched a set of important programs over the past few years such as the Ecological Footprint, Green Applications, Heroes of the UAE, Sustainable Universities and Schools, and My Environment is My National Responsibility Initiatives. Aside from these, there have also been several national campaigns conducted such as a ‘Day Without Paper' and ‘Car Free Day,' as the implementation of a wide range of national awareness drives disseminated throughout the year. He commended the vital role of competent environmental authorities, stakeholders and civil society organizations in raising awareness on environmental issues in the UAE.
The positive results of the initiatives that have been implemented over the years have only begun to surface. The best example of this is the reduction of ecological footprint per capita in the UAE from 11.8 global hectares in 2006 to 7.75 global hectares in 2014, as well as the slide in greenhouse gas emissions per capita from 39.5 tons in 1994 to 20.6 tons in 2012. The positive trend is expected to continue over the next few years with the completion of many essential projects in the field of renewable energy, nuclear energy for peaceful purposes, and waste management.
In addition, the programmes of the UAE National Agenda and Strategy for Green Development along with other strategic plans of different sectors are currently being developed and implemented. With these agendas in place, the coming period will witness the emergence of tools and programs that will complement the main priorities and directives of the recently adopted National Environmental Education and Awareness Strategy. It will also utilize the National Innovation Strategy to find more novel solutions towards environmental preservation.
He further emphasised that members of society should be aware of their responsibility to the environment and its resources which collectively form an integral component for economic prosperity and the social well-being of UAE residents. He referred to UAE Vision 2021, underlining "the importance of embodying our collective responsibilities to promote and maintain appropriate lifestyle choices."
In conclusion, the Minister pointed out the pivotal role of individuals in avoiding excessive consumption and its negative effects. He noted that the success of government initiatives hinges on the conscious and committed participation of each member of society. H.E Bin Fahad ended his speech by calling on everyone to be personally accountable for the preservation of natural resources and ecosystems for future generations to enjoy and benefit from. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -http://www.wam.ae/en/news/economics/1395281480075.html

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EAD released a snapshot highlighting Abu Dhabi Emirate’s key environmental challenges


posted on 05/06/2015

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, is set to mark the World Environment Day, WED, today, 5th June, by releasing a snapshot highlighting Abu Dhabi Emirate's key environmental challenges and some of the initiatives that EAD and other government entities are undertaking to address these challenges.
The WED theme for this year "Seven Billion Dreams, One Planet, Consume with Care" expresses the challenge of creating opportunities for inclusive and sustainable economic development, while attempting to stabilise the rate of resource use and reduce environmental impacts.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, said, "On the occasion of the World Environment Day, we would like to share our environmental snapshot".
"In the UAE we are blessed with a unique natural environment, but we also have a unique set of environmental challenges" she said.
"As the theme for WED suggests, the responsibility of careful environmental stewardship lies not just with us and our partners in government, but with every citizen and resident "realising their dreams" – we all need to "consume with care" and contribute to a better environmental future".
She added, "Our environmental snapshot really is a snapshot in time of a limited number of environmental indicators. Needless to say, we rigorously examine many others. But moving those indicators in a positive direction for us all can only happen as a result of long term strategies involving every sector of society."
Al Mubarak said, "By using the Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030 as a framework, our strategy has been developed and is fully aligned with the UAE Vision 2021, as well as the UAE Green Growth Strategy and National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan.
"Our strategy underlines Abu Dhabi's commitment to environmental action locally and its determination to act as a leader and steward on environmental issues on a regional and international level. This commitment is not just for World Environment Day, but 365 days a year," Al Mubarak concluded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM -http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281471985.html

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Ghaf: A look at the importance of UAE's national tree


posted on 05/06/2015

Everyone is planting ghaf trees. Last week an appliance manufacturer pledged to plant 5,000 ghaf trees in one year and partnered with a local organisation that plants ghaf trees. A retail distributor brand joined the appliance manufacturer brand and they planted the first 100 seeds in May at a nursery close to the Arabian Ranches.
On a Saturday morning in May 2013, at the same nursery, some 2,939 ghaf trees were planted by employees and families of a company that makes cameras and camera lenses.
In May this year, reforestation in the UAE got a shot in the arm with the UAE committed to plant a further 1,000 ghaf trees at sites chosen by Dubai Municipality.
In accordance with this plan, in February at Al Warsan Landfill, 100 ghaf seeds were sown. The second lot of planting took place in Jebel Ali Hazardous Waste Treatment Facility; this time 200 ghaf trees. The plantation drive had the support of the Dubai Municipality.
One reason for the very much in vogue plantation drive is that in 2008 the ghaf was declared the national tree of the UAE. A drought-tolerant, evergreen tree native to the desert, the ghaf is a resilient plant and good for the soil and requires little water. Difficult to harvest though as only one in 5,000 seeds take root — insects get at them.
Illegal to cut a ghaf
Since groves of ghaf trees in recent years were mowed down due to urbanisation and rapid infrastructure development, it is now illegal to cut down a ghaf. You need permission from the authorities. If a ghaf is in the way of more buildings coming up, the tree is uprooted and transplanted elsewhere where it will survive.
CSR bandwagon
The template is familiar. A company as part of its CSR policy rounds up its employees and sounds off the media that they're doing something good and grand so come and witness the sowing of the seed. Over the last couple of years, planting ghaf has become a CSR trend. Every planting season, more than a dozen companies have a few of their employees — sometimes with families kneel into the soil and plant a few seeds into the ground. Often school children join the drive.
In 2011, Goumbook, the local online green portal, launched the "Give a Ghaf” Tree Planting Programme — their planting season is October through May — to raise awareness about the ghaf and water scarcity, and how little water the ghaf needs to survive.
But despite active PR machinery that makes ghaf planting about the planter rather than the need to plant, and despite the lack of self-effacement on the part of these companies, fact remains we need more ghaf.
Ghaf cakes
"I have the honour of working for Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai, and we too are planting thousands of ghaf trees in our projects, along with other specific desert plants, to save water and ensure continuity by protecting the existing environment”, says Dr Mari Rossi, landscape architecture manager at the office of the Crown Prince of Dubai, also a doctor in Agronomy, Forestry, Tropical Agriculture. Dr Rossi said: "Old Emiratis I have spoken with have told me their elders would use the bark for rheumatism. Although recommended for scorpion sting and snakebite, the plant has not proved itself on that count”.
Their pods though, he explains, are used as vegetables in the dried and green form "in many parts of the Middle East all the way to India. In the past during food shortages lives were spared, using the sweetish bark as a food. It was ground into flour and made into cakes”. He says, while a palm tree that everyone hails as iconic needs 180 litres of water a day, the ghaf needs only 10 litres. And roots of other trees go down to two metres on average, the ghaf can go deeper than even 30 metres.
Uses of ghaf
> Fodder: The leafy portion is available for 4-5 months (June-October), during which it is used as dry fodder for animals and is sometimes mixed with animal feed.
> Fuel: The scanty, purplish brown heartwood is preferred to other kinds for firewood. It is an excellent fuel, also giving high-quality charcoal (5,000 kcal/kg), hence the species name.
> Timber: Wood used for boat frames, houses, posts and tool handles; often the poor form of unimproved trees limits use as timber.
> Gum or resin: The tree yields a pale to amber-coloured gum with properties similar of gum acacias.
> Tannin or dyestuff: Bark and leaf galls used for tanning.
> Medicine: Reported to be astringent, demulcent, and pectoral, it is a folk remedy for various ailments. In India, the flowers are mixed with sugar and administered to prevent miscarriage.
The ashes are sometime rubbed over the skin to remove hair. The bark, considered anthelmintic, refrigerant, and tonic, is used for asthma, bronchitis, dysentery, leucoderma, leprosy, muscle tremors, piles, and wandering of the mind. Smoke from the leaves is suggested for eye troubles, but the fruit is said to be indigestible, inducing biliousness, and destroying nails and hair.
Not recommended. The pods are astringent.
> Reclamation: The trees are planted for sand dune stabilisation and reclamation. Soil improvement through ashes and nitrogen fixing, favouring the growth of other species. It is a fact that the soil fertility increases under its canopy.
> Intercropping: Owing to the deep root system, a mono-layered canopy and the ability to fix atmospheric nitrogen, P.cineraria is compatible with agri-horticultural crops.
The tree boosts the growth and productivity of the companion plants. Besides, it does not compete for moisture with crop plants, which may be grown close to its trunk.
Tips for planting:
> Plant the trees away from walls — three metres is acceptable.
> Check for the right depth you can reach when digging.
> Check for utilities nearby, (and ask if not sure).
> Prepare an adequate site well proportioned, the size of the root ball.
> Provide some fertiliser in the specific area, before and after planting the ghaf; water once per week, distribute water also away from the trunk to favour the explorative nature of the trees roots (a circle 50cm and 1 metre away); best if done at night or in the early hours of the morning.
> Don't prune it until completely established, remember that trees are self-equilibrating dynamic structures, they will lose what they don't need”.
Goumbook also offers tailored corporate tree planting packages with the following add-on options (prices upon request):
> Transportation to and from the venue
> Breakfast/lunch/snack options all freshly prepared on the premises
> Private villa for corporate retreat/function. – Khaleej Times - http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2015/June/nationgeneral_June41.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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EAD announces winners of Al Wathba Photography Competition


posted on 03/06/2015

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), has announced the winners of the "Al Wathba Photography Competition" which was launched on its Instagram account in February.
The competition aimed to bring nature and people closer together and encourage professional and amateur photographers to capture creative images that reflect Al Wathba Wetland Reserve's natural beauty and rich biodiversity. It also contributed to raising environmental awareness on the importance of this valuable and fragile habitat and the need for preservation.
The 5 km wetland reserve, which is located approximately 45 km Southeast of Abu Dhabi Island is home to over 250 bird species that depend on it for nesting, feeding and/or breeding. It provides a safe refuge for many other species of reptiles, small mammals and insects, and is an important area for biodiversity conservation in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Participants, who visited the recently-opened reserve, captured the pictures and uploaded them on @EAD_Community Instagram account using two hashtags, #InAbuDhabi and #InAlWathba. About 50 photos were submitted by 30 contestants.
The winning photos were chosen by a jury comprising a group of Emirati journalists and photographers, including Khadija Al Marzouki, Saeed Jamouh, artist and Emirates Photography Society member, Hamad Al-Kaabi, volunteer photographer at the Emirates Red Crescent and amateur EAD photographers Ahmed Al Dhaheri.
The jury chose the first, second, and third prize competition winners, while EAD offered @EAD_Community Instagram accounts followers the opportunity to choose the fourth and fifth prizes winning photo on the basis of the largest number of likes. Winners were awarded in a private event held at EAD on Monday with competition prizes, worth a total of Dh 15,000.
The winner of 1st place was Arisha Wickramasinghe, in 2nd was Ferdinand Bedana, 3rd place went to Dexter Bacani, 4th place to Salama Al Qubaisi and winner of 5th place was Mario Bejagan.
Khansa Ibraheem Al Blouki, Section Manager-Environmentally Sustainable Communities at EAD, said, "The man-made wetland at Al Wathba is unique and of global significance, it has been recognised as a Ramsar site joining more than 2,000 acclaimed wetlands around the world and making it Abu Dhabi Emirate's first Ramsar site".
"We at EAD are keen to ensure that such natural treasures are accessible to the general public. The photography competition enticed a number of people to experience Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, many of them beautifully captured the abundant nature within its natural habitat. We too are motivated to run many more similar competitions and other initiatives to connect our community with our nature heritage" she added.
EAD recently announced that the reserve is closed through the summer months due to the breeding season of flamingos and to enhance the facilities for the visitors. Enhancements will include the accessibilities for people with special need. The site will resume receiving visitors by Mid-September 2015. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281367142.html

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Ministry of Environment and Water suspends 14 crusher and quarry operators


posted on 31/05/2015

The Ministry of Environment and Water on Saturday said it has suspended the permission to operate of 14 crusher and quarry operators in various emirates for violating relevant regulations until such time as they adhere to these regulations.
Saif Mohammed Al Shara, Assistant Under Secretary of the External Audit Sector at the Ministry, explained, "Based on Cabinet Resolution No. 20 of 2008, the plants in violation will cease operations from one to three months and cannot resume work at the end of the period unless they meet the necessary standards. The plants will also be closed permanently if they are found to be in violation for a third time."
He said the decision follows an evaluation of all crushers and quarries in the country for their compliance with installation, management and operation regulations.
The suspension is also in line the UAE Vision 2021 and the directives for creating a sustainable environment for future generations based on state laws on the regulation of crushers and quarries.
Al Shara said that the decision had been prompted by the non-compliance of these facilities with Ministerial Resolution No. 567 of 2014. The resolution seeks to regulate the UAE's industrial facilities at quarrying and crusher sites and to ensure that their management and activities follow environmentally-responsible standards that mitigate the negative effects on the environment and protect the public health of residents.
He noted that the Ministry's External Audit Sector conducts an annual evaluation of the activities of crusher and quarry operators during which it holds a series of scheduled and unannounced field visits to check the facilities' compliance with federal environmental laws. The evaluation includes the preparation of reports supported by images, evidence and measurements that serve as the basis for taking the appropriate decisions, in coordination with the competent local authorities. This audit process is based on Cabinet Resolution No. 20 of 2008, which regulates the operations of crushers and quarries and the transportation of their products, as well as Cabinet Resolution No. 24 of 2011 which regulates the activities of plants operating in the cement industry.
The Assistant Under-Secretary added that the violations were due to non-compliance by the management of the companies concerned with the required maintenance of equipment and dust collectors, in addition to the recorded dispersal of industrial waste, dust and fumes that threaten to damage the environment and put the health of nearby residents at risk.
Al Shara' pointed out that the regulation places the facilities in four categories: A, B, C and D. Facilities placed in Category D, the lowest, will cease activities until they meet all environmental requirements in the regulations. Only when their classification has been raised to another category will they be allowed to resume activities.
For facilities classified under Category C, Al Shara said that the ministry will submit detailed reports to the competent local authorities throughout the emirates so that they may notify these facilities of the necessary measures they have to implement. If, after inspection, they are again classified in Category C, the company will be at risk of closure.
Recently, the External Audit Sector deployed drones to monitor quarry and crusher operators to ensure that regulations are being observed and that the best practices are being followed. This initiative was in line with the UAE government's commitment to a sustainable environment with a fully-integrated infrastructure and to strengthening its leadership of innovation at the international level. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395281231062.html

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UAE Ministry of Environment collaborates with partners to inaugurate UAE Air Quality Network


posted on 26/05/2015

Following the directives of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the Ministry of Environment and Water has signed a Memorandum of Understanding, MoU, with the National Centre for Meteorology and Seismology, NCMS, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, EAD, Dubai Municipality, Fujairah Municipality, the Municipality and Planning Department in Ajman and Sharjah Municipality, for the launch of the UAE Air Quality Network.
The signing ceremony was held on the side-lines of the 6th Green Economy Annual Conference, under the theme ‘National Roundtable on Financing and Investing in Green Economy Projects.' His Highness Sheikh Mohammed approved the establishment of the UAE Air Quality Network while attending the brainstorming sessions for the Government Creative Laboratory, an initiative organised by the Ministry in October 2014.
Commenting on the MoU, Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, said that the launch of the UAE Air Quality Network is the realisation of the policies to achieve the vision of sustainable development set by the wise leadership. It is also reinforces the Ministry's eagerness to motivate all the parties to undertake more endeavours to enhance the efforts of promoting environmental sustainability in the country.
He pointed out that the UAE Air Quality Network is the result of the efforts of various national entities who always seek to transform innovative ideas into pilot projects. These pilot projects will contribute towards the UAE's progress and leadership to place it among the world's best countries by 2021, highlighting the exceptional efforts of the local and federal level teams which resulted in the completion of the project within 6 months.
Dr. Bin Fahad said that the idea of establishing the UAE Air Quality Network was one of the Government Creative Laboratory initiatives launched by the Ministry with an aim to come up with creative ideas and turn them into a practical reality. The network will contribute to the development of a comprehensive and integrated national strategy to preserve the environment and improve the air quality as one of the country's priorities. He noted that the signing of the MoU demonstrates the vital and effective role played by federal and other competent authorities in the implementation of the project to raise the level of air quality by up to 90 percent by 2021 to achieve the targets for the National Agenda.
Under the terms of the MoU, regular meetings will be held to discuss technical and operational issues of the network. It will also collaborate with all parties to use a standardised mechanism to measure pollutants and calculation of daily air quality index, in addition to calculations of index concentrations of particulate matter and the development and modernisation of private data of air pollutants. They will organise seminars, joint workshops and training programmes to promote the exchange of expertise to build the capacity of workers in the field of monitoring air pollutants. This will ensure the implementation of best practices and methodologies for the establishment of the UAE Air Quality Network initiative in coordination with their partners.
The UAE Air Quality Network aims to improve the air quality in order to reduce the emissions from various fixed sources, including factories, power plants, and mobile sources. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395281020219.html

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Ajman becomes 90 per cent plastic bag-free


posted on 24/05/2015

Five years after the Ajman Municipality issued a ban on the use of plastic bags, about 90 per cent of the commercial outlets in the emirate have made the switch to green alternatives like paper bags.
Yahya Al Reyaysa, Director-General of the municipality, said an initiative called ‘Day Without Plastic Bags' — which has been organised for the last four years — has helped in reducing the dependence on plastic bags.
As part of the initiative, which was launched in 2012, the municipality organised an awareness programme this year to educate the community about the importance of using paper bags in schools and shopping malls. The municipality distributed 15,000 brochures among the public as part of the programme.
Municipality inspectors visit the markets regularly to ensure that shops are using paper bags and other alternatives to plastic bags. "Our objective is to encourage citizens and residents in the emirate to cooperate with us in ensuring a healthy and green environment in the emirate,” he said.
Ajman was the first emirate to ban the use of plastic bags in 2010 after reports emerged of animals like camels dying after consuming them.
"Plastic bags pose risks to the environment as they take over 100 years to decompose. Popular areas like beaches and seashores are at risk as they are frequently visited by people,” he stated.
2016 to be plastic-free?
Humaid Abdullah Al Mualla, Director of the Department of Public Health and Environment at the municipality, is working towards making 2016 a year free of plastic bags in the emirate. "This requires cooperation between importers, shops and consumers.”
Outlets found using plastic bags are liable to be slapped with a Dh50,000 fine. The fine is doubled in case of repeat violations.
Khalid Al Hosani, Director of Health and Environment at the municipality, said the provisions of the municipal order issued by Shaikh Rashid bin Humaid Al Nuami, Chairman of the Ajman Municipality, helped achieve its objectives. The third article of the order mandated plastic bag importers to contact the municipality to re-register and provide data of their companies which will be included in the records. They must get written approval before importing any type of plastic bags.
The fourth article warns commercial and industrial establishments against dealing with plastic bag importers who are not approved by the municipality.
The municipality allows only recyclable plastic bags which must bear stickers showing the name of the establishment and the period specified for recycling the bag.
Al Hosani said the municipality fined many importers who were found flouting the order, and non-recyclable bags imported to the emirate were confiscated. "We also banned plastic bag distributors based in the other emirates from distributing bags in Ajman's markets. We have a list of the factories producing plastic bags and the quantity produced, consumed and exported from the country.” – Khaleej Times - http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/nationgeneral/2015/May/nationgeneral_May238.xml§ion=nationgeneral


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UAE marks International Day for Biological Diversity


posted on 22/05/2015

The UAE is joining the world's countries on Friday to observe the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), celebrated on 22nd May every year.
The 2015 IDB's theme of "Biodiversity for Sustainable Development" reflects the importance of efforts made at all levels to establish a set of Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) as part of the United Nations Post - 2015 Development Agenda for the period 2015 to 2030 and the relevance of biodiversity for the achievement of sustainable development.
The celebration of the International Day for Biological Diversity aims to draw attention of governments, communities and individuals about biodiversity and the raising of environment awareness on issues pertinent to biodiversity, which has been experiencing remarkable deterioration due to various factors.
In a statement, Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, said that the UAE continues to build on previous achievements to bolster protection of biodiversity and the ecosystems.
The UAE's effort, he said, seeks to advance its regional and international stature based on the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE National Agenda, the UAE's Strategy for Green Development as well as the strategic plans drawn up by the federal government and the local governments.
The minister added that the UAE also continues to be an active player at the relevant international conventions, organisations and meetings where it mobilises regional and international efforts to protect biodiversity and combat illegal trade in endangered species of wild flora and fauna. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395280914884.html

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EAD nurtures passion for biodiversity in the young


posted on 22/05/2015

The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, is raising awareness of local and global natural heritage among children by publishing six encyclopaedic books on biodiversity, on the occasion of World Biodiversity Day on 22nd May.
Aimed at students aged eight to twelve, the six "Endangered Species" books highlight several critically endangered animals along with details and scientific facts about these species and their current status in terms of daily risks and threats. The series spans terrestrial wildlife, birds, marine life, reptiles, amphibians, and the plant kingdom.
The series of books will serve as important reference material for both students and teachers, with the aim of promoting and supporting the schools' academic curriculum. The books, published both in English and Arabic, are currently in the process of being distributed to school libraries for the upcoming academic year and will also be available online.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary-General of EAD, said, "We are confident that many understand the definition of biodiversity which relates to all forms of life on earth. There are several millions of species that are yet to be identified, we hope that these books inspire a new generation of biological studies. The United Arab Emirates is located in a desert and arid area, with one of the most fragile ecosystems in the world. Plants and animals here are overcoming many challenges to survive, however this land is still able to accommodate an amazing number of plants and animals, with as many as 800 plant species, 64 terrestrial and marine mammals, 67 reptile species, and 430 bird species already identified."
However, scientists estimate that one of every eight species of birds, four species of reptiles, and three species of amphibians are on the brink of extinction. 75% of the world's fish species are also in imminent danger. With the loss of almost 31% of the world's forest cover, the ecosystem has already lost many of its resources and habitats for animals.
Biodiversity is crucial to human existence, the loss of species has a direct impact on our environment such as pollution, introduction of invasive species, and climate change. Human interference is a key factor in such ecological damage.
"By nurturing a love of nature and biodiversity among the children, we are laying the foundations of a generation that will protect and conserve the environment," said Fozeya Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Director of Environmental Outreach at EAD.
Al Mahmoud added, "At EAD, we believe that we can preserve and conserve nature in all the spheres of the environment and the living world. Neglecting the link between human beings and the animal kingdom will diminish one's sensitivity towards environmental issues as they get older."
Biologist Edward Wilson in his book entitled, 'Biophilia hypothesis: the bond between human beings and other living systems', which he published in 1984, talks about the bond between humans and other living systems, a subconscious result of "pantheism hypothesis". From this perspective comes the need to raising environmental awareness among students and the youth, and instil a sense of responsibility towards the environment.
The six books about biodiversity were written and published in association with The Energy and Resources Institute, TERI, based in India, a pilot programme, "Green Curriculum", which aims to incorporate environmental concepts into the curriculum in-line with Abu Dhabi Education Council's (ADEC) curriculum, which is being implemented within the framework of an effective cooperation between EAD and ADEC. The pilot programme targets kindergartens and primary public schools in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, to be expanded on a larger scale in the coming years to target the largest number of students.
The "Green Curriculum" programme also falls in line with one of the most important key objectives set by Abu Dhabi's Executive Council, which is finding an environmental conscious community capable of contributing towards achieving Abu Dhabi's Environment Vision 2030 goals. - Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395280881350.html

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Abu Dhabi named as Capital of Arab Environment


posted on 21/05/2015

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, said the recognition of Abu Dhabi as Capital of Arab Environment 2015 by the Organisation of Islamic Capitals and Cities (OICC), and the Euro-Arab Cooperation Centre, is yet another feather in the UAE's cap.
'The honour is a glowing tribute to efforts being made by the UAE in the field of environmental protection and adoption of international best practices in this respect, consistent with the approach set out by the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan,' the minister said in remarks on the occasion.
This achievement, he added, is a result of the commitment shown by the UAE under the wise leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, support of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and follow up of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, to deliver the sustainable development goals in various fields including the development and conservation of environment.
'Many environmental initiatives, launched from Abu Dhabi, have contributed to advancing the cause of environment and have an impact not only locally but also regionally and internationally and have acted as a catalyst and an inspiration,' he said, citing as examples the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and the UAE Ecological Footprint Initiative, the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (MASDAR), and other similar international programmes.
The UAE, he added, had taken long strides in the area of conservation of the environment and promotion of values of sustainable development, thanks to the concerted and integrated efforts made by the federal and local concerned authorities. – Emirates News Agency, WAM –
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395280873665.html

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