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THE COUNTRY & THE ENVIRONMENT - ENVIRONMENT


Green Cities reflects UAE Vision 2021, says Minister of Environment


posted on 22/04/2014

UAE Environment and Water Minister Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd has stressed that the green cities enjoy huge support nationwide, as they reflect clearly the UAE Vision 2021, National Agenda and the UAE Strategy for Green Development, as well as endorsed local and federal strategic visions and plans.
He said in a statement on World Earth Day, which corresponds with 22nd April, under the theme: "Green Cities", that the cities and urban centres play a critical role in achieving the sustainable development, as they offer huge economic and social opportunities.
The minister cited the management urban measures adopted by the UAE, notably, implementation of green architecture specifications, He added that the UAE is reaping the fruits of the wise policies of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan when he launched in March last year Shams1 solar energy plant with the capacity of 100 MW.
He added that Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum also launched the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park that aims at producing 1, 000 MW by 2030.
Dr. Fahd said the first nuclear plant will be operational by 2017.
Every year on 22nd April, over a billion people in 190 countries take action for Earth Day. People plant trees, clean up their communities, contact their elected officials, and more all on behalf of the environment. Like Earth Days of the past, Earth Day 2014 will focus on the unique environmental challenges of our time. As the world's population migrates to cities, and as the bleak reality of climate change becomes increasingly clear, the need to create sustainable communities is more important than ever. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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World green economy summit closes with clear pathway to making Dubai capital of the green economy by 2021


posted on 17/04/2014

The World Green Economy Summit ("WGES"), the first Summit focused on "green business" in the region, concluded yesterday, with a closing session which provided a platform for determining the way for Dubai to become capital of the world's green economy in line with the goals of the UAE's Vision 202.
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and CEO, DEWA said: "The inaugural World Green Economy Summit has been very successful and generated many new partnerships, initiatives and projects to develop a green economy, here in Dubai, across the region and worldwide.
"In establishing this summit, Dubai has demonstrated its commitment to building a green economy and sustainable development. As a result, we wish to make the following declaration of actions, to extend this effort and to build on the success of the World Green Economy Summit: ? Dubai will develop the World Green Economy Summit to showcase green economy and business for the Dubai 2020 World Expo, the 2021 UAE Vision, and to develop Dubai as the capital of green economy.
Dubai will engage with international stakeholders on a regular basis to prepare the next World Green Economy Summit in 2015 and track the commitments made during the World Green Economy Summit 2014.

Dubai will provide support to top international organizations for the World Green Economy. The World Green Economy Summit received the support of prestigious organizations like IRENA, UNDP, and UNFCCC.

Dubai will support United Nations R20 and the 'Road to Paris' to facilitate a binding agreement in Paris 2015. Dubai will also be represented in Paris to be present there during the COP21 negotiations.

Dubai will develop a Public Private Partnership Platform within the World Green Economy Summit to facilitate synergies between cities, regions and utilities, solution providers and financial institutions.

Dubai will facilitate the development of innovative financing for green economy initiatives.

Dubai will continue to engage the youth towards green economy and climate change in the context of the World Green Economy Summit.

Dubai will publish an annual report, called Dubai Green Economy Report, which will showcase all Dubai Green Economy projects and initiatives.

Al Tayer concluded, "On the road to Paris, to Dubai 2020, and to a sustainable future, I would like us to collaborate to transform the many tangible outcomes into action. I look forward to welcoming you here at the World Green Economy Summit 2015." Commenting at the conclusion of WGES, the Summit's Programme Chairman, Andre Schneider, said: "This inaugural World Green Economy Summit has shown the market conditions exist here in Dubai for the development of a genuine green finance trading hub. The sessions today have demonstrated that the outcomes of this Summit will be actionable, and incorporated into the long term planning of the economy here - particularly in regard to the upcoming EXPO 2020. We look forward to returning next year for the second instalment of WGES here in Dubai." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Abu Dhabi's sustainable development efforts highlighted at World Urban Forum in Colombia


posted on 17/04/2014

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has recently participated in the 7th World Urban Forum (WUF), in Medellin, Colombia.
The forum is considered the largest event on Sustainable Urban Development in the world and is organised biannually by the United Nations Human Settlements Programme, also known as UN-Habitat.
Attended by around 13,000 international delegates representing 160 countries, this year's theme focused on Urban Equity in Development - Cities for Life and highlighted the importance of sustainable and equitable urban development in cities.
Dr. Mohammed Yousef Al Madfaei, Executive Director of the Integrated Environment Policy and Planning Sector at EAD, spoke at a special session organised on the Arab region.
He shared the U.A.E.s experience in working towards sustainable development and highlighted the Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030, which focuses on the Emirate's efforts to preserve its natural heritage and achieve its economic objectives with minimal impact on the environment.
He also highlighted the Emirate's efforts to reduce demand for groundwater and desalinated water and promote recycled water.
"In Abu Dhabi, EAD along with its partners, are aiming for a 20% reduction in the use of groundwater by 2018. We also aim to reduce domestic water consumption to less than 340 litres per capita per day. With regards to the forestry, public realm and amenities sectors, Abu Dhabi is working to ensure that irrigation network losses are minimal. We have already begun planting native plants that demand less water and our target is to achieve a 16% reduction in water use by 2018," Dr. Al Madfaei said.
Dr. Al Madfaei also met with Dr. Joan Clos, Executive Director of UN-Habitat, to explore possible cooperation on responses to the challenges of urbanisation affecting the future of cities, in light of the rapid development that Abu Dhabi is facing.
During the forum, EAD, through its Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), showcased the Eco-citizen World Map Project, led by Eco-city Builders, a non-profit organisation dedicated to reshaping cities for the long-term health of the humans and natural systems. The Eco-citizen World Map is a global initiative that aims at connecting neighbourhoods with online crowd-mapping tools designed to explore, understand, and measure holistic urban health from a citizen's perspective. The initiative is one of ten projects that have been seed-funded by AGEDI, as part of the commitments specified in the Eye on Earth Summit Declaration that was issued in 2011.
Abu Dhabi's participation in such a respected forum has proved to be a stepping stone towards achieving its mid-term goals of a sustainable future. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Plastic waste turns a death trap for animals in UAE


posted on 16/04/2014

Deaths of wild animals caused by their by ingesting discarded waste, especially plastics, is increasing in the UAE's deserts as the discarded rubbish is reaching epidemic proportions, underlining the need for more deterrent measures, according to prominent UAE-based scientist, Dr. Ulli Wernery.
"You have plastic in your stomach, it disintegrates slowly and releases a lot of different poisons and then it damages and destroys mainly the intestines and the liver," Dr. Wernery, who is the Scientific Director at Dubai's Central Veterinary Research Laboratory (CVRL), said.
"Death by plastic, a modern phenomenon, takes months, if not years, in most cases, and happens in one of three excruciating ways," Dr. Wernery said in an article published by the Khaleej Times daily. He said that in the first, and most commonplace way, the animal ingests plastic over the course of years that cannot be digested. The plastic sits in the animal's stomach, making it think it is full, so it fails to eat, eventually starving to death. The second way is an obstruction of the animal's intestines, which causes it to die within 48 hours. The third, another long-term death that causes much suffering, is via poisoning.
"With increasingly more campers exploring the UAE's wadis comes more pollution and things are getting worse," he said, "[We need] zero tolerance, and you've got to fine these people, they have to feel it in their pocket, otherwise they will not change." The paper went on to say that it is not just desert animals that are dying, but also marine life, with widely-publicised cases of turtles eating plastic bags that appear to be jellyfish in the motion of the sea.
Dr. Wernery says there is evidence to suggest polar bears and birds that have fed on fish contaminated with tiny particles of broken down plastic, called nurdles, have had their sexual hormones affected, causing a low rate of reproduction or an increased likelihood of male newborns.
This kind of issue is common across the globe, the German scientist says. "Everybody knows that it's bad and getting worse and worse. It's a global problem." – Emirates News Agency, WAM –

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First 'eco' fashion show in the region launched


posted on 11/04/2014

The distinctive Eco Fashion of the UAE Green Festival has been launched at Abu Dhabi Mall in the presence of Arab celebrity Dima Aljundi, where renowned designers showcased their latest eco-friendly designs which have been produced according to sustainable standards using recyclable materials.
The first-of-its-kind event in the region runs for four successive days and hosts leading eco-friendly fashion brands enabling visitors to enjoy a "green" shopping experience through a set of sustainable designs for men, women and children.
The Eco Fashion Show is meant to function as an effective means of spreading awareness about the importance of adopting an eco lifestyle. It further endeavours to familiarise people with a new phase of shopping, an indispensable component of a sustainable lifestyle.
Not only is the Eco Fashion Show meant for shoppers, but it is also designed for suppliers as it enables them to introduce their sustainable designs to a wide audience. Eco clothing is often made of natural fabric materials that are non-toxic and less polluting in their production, use and disposal. Besides being healthier for our skin, eco-friendly clothing is also comfortable to wear and can be found in fashionable designs.
Abu Dhabi Mall had already launched a special program celebrating the UAE Green Festival earlier this month, including numerous awareness-raising and fitness activities in an attempt to promote a sustainable lifestyle in a fun way addressing all members of society. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

Hamdan bin Mubarak: Education is a tool for peace, development, and among rights of all people
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research has reiterated the keen interest of UAE under the leadership of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan in supporting education across the world, and in war-hit zones in particular, and emphasised that education is a tool for achieving peace, development and represents one of the basic right of all people.
"This reflects the strong belief of UAE in the fact that education is the necessary tool for achieving peace and sustainable development and preventing wars and epidemics which waste resources and destroy the achievements and success of state. It also reflects UAE' belief in the need for assisting developing countries to achieve the desired growth rates by the end of 2015 and to transition into the next Millennium Development Goals," Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak said in his comment on the UAE's achievement of the first position as the world's largest donor country of official development assistance (ODA) in 2013 and the highest Official Development Assistance/Gross National Income ratio (ODA/GNI ratio).
The ranking of UAE represents a historic record leap in the history of its foreign aid from its 19th position in 2012, according to the Development Assistance Committee (DAC) of the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD). DAC said that UAE's foreign aid in 2013 increased by 375% since 2012.
"The UAE assists all countries around the world regardless of the recipients' race, colour, faith or language, and its effort is only based on humanitarian considerations and is in line with the approach established by the late founding father Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and followed by President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and all Emiratis.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak noted that the efforts of more than 23 UAE institutional donors funds, societies and centres. He further hailed the channelling of UAE's official development assistance to 18 development sectors the most important of which is education which received more than US$80.6 in 2012. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Carbon emissions in UAE set to fall by 2021


posted on 03/04/2014

Air quality in the UAE is set to become healthier by 2021 as authorities are carrying out a number of initiatives to reduce its ranking from being one of the highest emitters of carbon dioxide per capita.
"In 2013, the United Nations certified Dubai as having reduced 1.5 million tonnes and, by 2021, we aim to use 24 per cent of clean energy to power the emirate,” said Waleed Salman, Executive Vice-President of Strategy and Business Development, Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa).
"By 2030, Dubai will use five per cent renewable energy through using solar power and, according to Dubai's strategic plan for 2030, aim to reduce demand for power by 30 per cent at a cost of Dh55 billion, which is now being carried out by converting buildings into green ones that save energy,” said Salman.
Dubai's focus on reducing carbon emissions was revealed on the sidelines of a conference yesterday that announced the World Green Economy Summit, which will be held at Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre from April 15 to 16.
The first edition of the Green Economy Summit will be an annual event to look at business opportunities around the premises of a green economy.
The World Green Economy Summit will be a prelude to the Road to Paris 2015 initiative, where nations around the world will work towards securing a legally binding global climate agreement on curbing carbon emissions, with binding effect from 2020. The UAE has already been invited to participate in the initiative.
"The World Green Economy Summit is an important platform that brings together governments, non-government organisations and the business sector with the purpose of finding green viable solutions that can contribute to the transformation of a world green economy,” said Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chief Executive of Dewa.
He explained that the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park's first project is now in operation, and is part of the emirate's efforts towards reducing its carbon emissions.
"The consultancy services for the 100 megawatt second project of this giant Solar Park have been awarded, and the total capacity of this park will reach 1,000 megawatts after being completed by 2030,” said Al Tayer.
He added that Dubai has adopted eight programmes, 24 initiatives, and 76 procedures to manage the demand of power, aimed at achieving a green and sustainable economy. – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/environment/carbon-emissions-in-uae-set-to-fall-by-2021-1.1312936

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UAE has impressive leadership track record in creating solutions to reduce emissions, says Al Jaber


posted on 28/03/2014

Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State, has stressed that the UAE has an impressive track record of leadership in creating solutions to reduce emissions and generate economic and social opportunities, and that Abu Dhabi Ascent, to be held in May, is a significant marker for global efforts to tackle emission targets for a greener planet.
In an article published yesterday in local newspapers, Dr. Sultan Al Jaber said that the world's focus is once again turning to the global challenge of climate change. In May, Abu Dhabi will bring the world together to drive more solutions.
The Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ban Ki-moon, recently announced the UAE is to host a critical meeting, Abu Dhabi Ascent, on May 4th-5th, in the lead-up to the September UN Climate Summit in New York. This is a striking recognition of the central role the UAE plays in global action on climate change, as well as the close and growing cooperation between the UAE and the United Nations.
According to the article, the dangers of climate change have returned to the top of the international agenda. In recent months, changes to northern weather systems caused by the warming Arctic appear to have pushed polar winds far into North America, causing record storms. At the same time, highly unusual storm patterns are attributed to flooding in western Europe and Asia. While no individual weather event can be blamed with certainty on climate change, each is part of an alarming trend that will only grow worse if we do not control global greenhouse gas emissions.
Al Jaber explains that this is certainly the conclusion of many world leaders. Last month, US Secretary of State, John Kerry, put climate change at the top of the US policy agenda with a speech in Jakarta. The US and China have announced another partnership to cut emissions. This renewed focus on climate change is why world leaders will convene in the Climate Summit this fall.
Abu Dhabi Ascent is the most important step towards the development of more ambitious climate change actions to be announced in New York. As Ban said, "The UAE initiative to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent is an important concrete contribution to the Summit. This meeting is a critical milepost on the way that will help build the momentum we need for a successful Climate Summit." The article goes on to say that much momentum on climate change is needed because global efforts to tackle it have slowed in recent years. The United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the main platform for this cooperation, has had some successes with establishing some climate targets and emissions trading under the Kyoto Protocol. Some of those efforts, however, fell short of what is needed and the progress of other measures actually fell into reverse. For example, the second commitment period of the Kyoto Protocol, as agreed in Doha in 2012, actually has targets for fewer countries than did the first. The result is that climate negotiations have pitted developed and developing countries against each other as both sides have disagreed on the most viable course of action.
As a result, says Al Jaber, the UNFCCC has set a goal of negotiating a new climate treaty, applicable to all countries, by the end of 2015. France will host the COP21 conference that should reach this agreement. This is an important deadline, but to meet it all nations must work together on big win-win opportunities that will reduce emissions while driving investment in new technologies, innovation and educational opportunities for all.
This is where the UAE excels. Our nation has an impressive track record of leadership in creating positive solutions to reduce emissions while creating economic and social opportunities. A prime example is Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company.
Through Masdar, Abu Dhabi is proving the economic, environmental and social benefits of sustainability. The company is building the world's most sustainable city to discover how design, infrastructure and technology accommodate for denser populations, while dramatically reducing energy, water and waste usage. At the company's core is Masdar Institute, a world-class research university focused on advancing clean and sustainable technology. At the same time, the university is also training young Emiratis to become the next generation of UAE energy leaders.
Masdar is helping shape the UAE's role as a true energy leader by complementing its hydrocarbon exports with renewable power. Through the development of mega-wind and solar projects, the UAE now delivers nearly 1 gigawatt of clean energy to international markets.
Renewable energy is also making a major contribution at home.
The article, carried by Dubai-based Gulf News, went on to say that with the UAE's booming economy has also come a rising energy demand of 9 percent per year. Therefore, the integration of new, sustainable sources of power will ensure the country's long-term energy security.
New energy investments have already been launched. In Abu Dhabi, Shams 1, one of the world's largest solar-power projects, now powers more than 20,000 homes. Dubai is developing the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park and has pioneered extensive public transport systems in the region.
Al Jaber added that the UAE's commitment to a more diverse energy portfolio is also demonstrated by the construction of four nuclear facilities in the Western Region. These nuclear power plants, which will emit zero carbon emissions, will meet about 25 percent of the UAE's energy demand with safe, clean and reliable electricity by 2020.
These projects, however, are more than just about securing our energy future. They demonstrate the UAE's shift towards a knowledge-based economy that will stimulate job creation, strengthen human capital and reduce our environmental impact. And the UAE must embrace and mature new sectors to ensure it remains competitive well into the 21st Century.
Dr. Sultan said that this dramatic change in the UAE's economy is underway because, "our leadership has the foresight and focus to address immediate and long-term issues. True, political turmoil in the Middle East, as well as economic and political volatility around the world, offer plenty of near-term challenges. Nevertheless, we have not lost sight of the strategies necessary to steer the UAE and the world to achieve a more sustainable and secure economy. In some ways this steady, long-term vision is our greatest strength and our gift to the world." He confirmed that such vision is behind the UAE's strong partnership with the UN, with whom the UAE works closely on long-term global challenges, especially on energy and climate change.
"This May, as world leaders converge in Abu Dhabi, we will continue to help steer our country, the region and the world towards a more secure energy and climate future," he concluded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Going green with UAE environmental festival


posted on 17/03/2014

The UAE will be green for the next four weeks after the first environmentally friendly festival of its kind was launched in the capital on Sunday.
The month-long UAE Green Festival 2014 aims to promote a more eco-conscious lifestyle among Emiratis and expatriates.
On the first day 33 trees and more than 1,000 flowers were planted in Khalidyah Park with the help of staff from Abu Dhabi Municipality.
"We are proud to celebrate sustainability and launch the first festival of its kind in the UAE and the region,” said Lamiaa Chlyeh, managing director of LatestOn, which is organising the festival with the help of government departments and other businesses.
Ms Chlyeh said she hoped it would help to improve the UAE's environmental performance by educating the public on green subjects.
Among those taking part in Sunday's tree-planting were 10 members of Green Hope UAE, a youth organisation based in Dubai that volunteers at desert and beach clean-ups and other environmental-awareness events across the country all year round.
"It was great because we were helping the Earth,” said 14-year-old Shashwik Shetty.
Art also plays a major role in the festival, with Gallery 76 at the Dubai International Art Gallery hosting the environmental-themed show Cycles of Life. Running until March 23, the exhibition features artists Corine Pagny from France, Siren Waaroe from Norway, Alem Goshime from Ethiopia and Kamen Bonev from Bulgaria, who will create works using recycled cardboard and papier mache in a live performance on March 22.
"We are looking at a wide variety of eco themes using painting, sculpture, drawings and multi-media,” said Jeff Scofield, art director at the gallery.
"The eco theme has great resonance with our members. For us it was obvious to go ahead and fit in with the art initiative of the UAE Green Festival.”
In Dubai, the festival will focus on some of the solutions to environmental challenges when hybrid and electric vehicles cruise along Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Boulevard as part of the Green Auto Show from April 3 to 10.
In Sharjah, members of the public will have the chance to buy locally produced vegetables, arts and crafts and sustainable household products at the International Green Market being held each evening at Al Qasba from March 25 until April 12.
The festival will return to the capital with an eco-fashion show at Abu Dhabi Mall from April 8-12. – The National – Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/going-green-with-uae-environmental-festival#ixzz2wC4bS7h2
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Industrial Development Bureau and Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi sign cooperation agreement


posted on 13/03/2014

The Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) and the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) have signed a cooperation agreement on the assessment, licensing and reviewing of preliminary environmental studies for industrial establishments and projects in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
The agreement was signed at the premises of Abu Dhabi Economic Media Club, by Mohammed Omar Abdullah the Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development and Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak the Secretary General of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD), in presence of Eng. Ayman Al Makawi, Director General of the Industrial Development Bureau, Mohammed Hassan Al Qamzi, CEO of the Higher Corporation for Specialised Economic Zones and a number of officials from both sides.
The agreement aims at promoting cooperation and joint efforts between EAD and IDB; and ensuring full compliance of licensees with the application and implementation of all laws, regulations and policies in force in the Emirate concerning environmental protection, application and implementation of all obligations towards the preservation of the environment, in addition to developing a regulatory framework and a joint mechanism between the two parties, in the interests of industrial investment and the preservation of the environment.
The agreement is meant also to empower the Industrial Development Bureau (IDB) to assess and review preliminary environmental studies and the environmental management plans for construction or operation, in accordance with the guidelines of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi; besides developing a clear mechanism for the collection of environmental licensing fees.
Mohammed Omar Abdullah, Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development, said that the agreement came in the light of realising both the Economic Vision of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi 2030, and the Environment Vision 2030; as well as the development strategy, which the Emirate of Abu Dhabi implements to enhance the efficiency of government performance and increase the effectiveness of services to the business sector, which all require effective cooperation between government and semi-government entities.
He stressed the keenness of IDB and EAD to set, standards and develop mechanisms to contribute to creating a safe and stimulating environment, in order to attract and harbour domestic and foreign industrial and investment projects, and enhance the competitiveness of the industrial sector at the local, regional and international levels, by providing highly efficient and quick services, consistent with the orientations of the Government of Abu Dhabi.
Razan Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD said that this agreement came out of the functions and powers of EAD for issuing environmental licensing and evaluating the impact of projects, industrial investments and economic activities on the environment and wildlife in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Razan also added that the agreement stems from the belief of both parties that the protection and development of the environment, is a shared responsibility, is a shared responsibility, which depends on concerted efforts of all, including the authorities concerned with the industrial sector, especially with regard to incorporating environmental considerations into industrial and economic development, for Industrial and environmental licensing and assessment of environmental studies for industrial establishments, with the need to comply with all laws, regulations and policies for the protection of the environment.
Ayman Al Makawi, Director General of the Industrial Development Bureau of the Department of Economic Development, said in the opening speech at the signing ceremony of the agreement, that under the Law No. 8/2013 on the Competencies Developed for the Departments of Economic Development and Municipal Affairs, IDB became the competent authority for tailoring policies concerning the industrial sector, as well as regulating industrial activities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Al Makawi said that the agreement with EAD would enable IDB to assess and review preliminary environmental studies, and studies on environmental management plans for construction or operation of establishment, in accordance with the guidelines established in EAD.
He praised the efforts made by EAD in the regulating environmental licensing and evaluating the impact of projects, industrial investments and economic activities; adding that this also came under the same goal, which IDB is geared to realise, as one of the priorities set by the industrial strategy for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Under the agreement, IDB will receive copies of the environmental studies from investors, which will be reviewed by the technical group, before referring the studies to the Board for decision on submitted studies, which will also include the studies of environmental management plans for the construction or operation of industrial enterprises in accordance with the guidelines of EAD. This process will take more than five working days from the date of submitting the study.
In turn, EAD will review preliminary environmental studies and will officially respond within eight working days from the date of receiving the study from IDB. The other environmental studies will again be referred to EAD as it is the competent authority for evaluation, endorsement and licensing. IDB is entitled to express its opinion on any study submitted for industrial projects.

The agreement entrusts IDB with following-up and discussing technical remarks on the study handed over to licensee and the project consultant, in the presence of specialists from EAD, with the need for IDB to stick to the schedule plan for evaluation and reviewing of environmental studies, and to coordinate with EAD for approval of industrial projects studies. The final approval will be issued by EAD only.
The agreement emphasised that EAD will continue to issue environment licenses through the electronic system of IDB until its own electronic system is ready, while IDB will coordinate with EAD with regard to e-linkage.
In accordance with this agreement IDB will issue preliminary industrial licenses for new industrial projects, provided that stakeholders should obtain environmental licenses after submitting all required environmental studies to EAD before starting the construction of the projects, provided that EAD should send its official reply on applications electronically to IBD.
Under the agreement, EAD and IBD agreed to establishment and adopt lists related to exempting some industrial activities from obtaining environmental license, as their projects will have no environmental impacts. IBD will coordinate with the Department of Municipal Affairs and other municipalities, in order not to issue construction permits for industrial investors except after confirmation of obtaining the initial industrial license and the environmental license issued by EAD.
Some articles of the agreement addressed issues related to inspection and environmental emergencies, and stated that IBD shall inform EAD on any environmental violations or infractions observed by its inspectors, while EAD shall conduct environmental inspection of industrial establishments according to its own procedures in this regard.
The two sides agreed to form a technical committee, which shall hold a coordination meeting in two weeks time, to develop a detailed mechanism which includes determining and setting of performance measurement indicators, to ensure applying the provisions of the agreement and achieving set objectives. A monthly report on performance indicators shall be prepared and submitted to senior management for approval. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Environment Agency Abu Dhabi and BP strengthen partnership


posted on 25/02/2014

To strengthen their investment in environmental education, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and BP have signed a four-year agreement which will see both organisations continue to work together towards creating positive environmental impact at schools through EAD's Sustainable Schools Initiative (SSI).
The SSI or "Al Madaris Al Mustadama," which is conceived and implemented by EAD, with the support of the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), targets all government and private schools in Abu Dhabi Emirate. The objective of SSI is to build capacity in school communities to address their own environmental impact and roll out a sustained environment education and awareness activity for the whole school community.
The SSI has been solely funded by BP since it was launched in 2009. By renewing this agreement, both organisations will work collaboratively to support the continuation of SSI in achieving its vision in reaching out to the future generation of the UAE and promoting environmental education, ethics and practice in support of Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030.
The renewed agreement was signed by Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD's Secretary General, and Abdul Karim Al Mazmi, General Manager and Chief Representative for BP UAE.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD's Secretary General, said, "The success and longevity of the Sustainable Schools Initiative relies on us working in close partnership with other government stakeholders, namely the Abu Dhabi Education Council (ADEC), the Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority (ADWEA) and the Centre of Waste Management - Abu Dhabi (CWM).
"The participation rate among students over the past four years has been incredible, with many of the entries and initiatives being rewarded for creativity, mechanics and results. With a renewed partnership with BP, we can achieve our goal of empowering youth to be environmentally innovative and help them work towards conserving our natural heritage and protecting the legacy for future generations," she added.
Abdulkarim Al Mazmi, General Manager and Chief Representative for BP UAE, said, "BP is so proud and privileged to have been able to partner with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi to support the Sustainable Schools Initiative and to sponsor such a worthwhile and successful initiative. It is very much in support of Abu Dhabi's Environment Vision for 2030 with its focus on sustainability." Al Mazmi added, "This year is the fifth year of the initiative. It has gone from strength to strength since its inception in 2009. The Sustainable Schools Initiative has helped to build the capacity of schools to address their own environmental impact and to roll out a sustained environmental education programme. This is raising awareness and leading to changes in behaviour of the whole school community and beyond. We are thrilled to learn about the impact the programme is having on the schools of Abu Dhabi and how it is making a difference to the school community and to the environmental impact by students, teachers and school community." The SSI is a whole-school initiative that targets students, parents, teachers, administrative and maintenance staff eventually linking them to the larger community. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE Minister of Environment inaugurates GPCA's Waste Free Environment campaign in Dubai


posted on 21/02/2014

Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, UAE Minister of Environment has opened the Dubai leg of the Waste Free Environment (WFE) campaign in Dubai's Mina Al Hamriya.
This is the second edition of the WFE campaign which is taking place in eight other cities in all the GCC countries. In 2013, the event saw the participation of over 2,500 volunteers who collected 10,000 kilograms of waste across six cities in the region.
"Since sustainability is a key component of the UAE's vision for the future, conservation of the environment is a crucial step in ensuring the country's future," said Dr. Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahad. "Community awareness campaigns, such as this one, are tangible examples of collaborative efforts between corporations and the community which can bring about positive changes." The event saw a large number of volunteers from schools, divers and local communities as well as representatives from major petrochemical companies volunteers from around the region clearing litter from beaches and gathering plastic waste for recycling.
The GPCA hopes to highlight complacent attitudes toward proper waste disposal which are tarnishing the image of plastics products, a major part of the region's economy and both economically valuable and sustainable. The association is a signatory to the global "Declarations for Solutions on Marine Litter", where participants actively collaborate with governments, non-governmental organizations and the general public on sustainable waste management solutions. The WFE is a key component to GPCA's contribution to this declaration.
"As members of a community, we all have a part to play in ensuring that future generations have access to an environment where they can live, grow and flourish," said Dr. Abdulwahab Al Sadoun, Secretary General, GPCA. "Every single member of the society can contribute to cleaning up our environment by engaging in a simple act of proper disposal of litter." Dr. Sadoun explained that the presence of plastic litter in the marine and desert environments of the Gulf are largely due to irresponsible disposal of plastics waste combined with poor waste management, a lack of regulatory framework and insufficient recycling infrastructure. "WFE is a campaign that is engaged in the 4Rs - Reduce, Reuse, Recycle and Recover so that these pressing environmental issues can be resolved." WFE is being organized by GPCA in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water and in conjunction with the Tadweer, a leading provider of waste management and recycling services in Dubai. In addition to collecting and segregating the waste collected during WFE, Tadweer will also develop a report on the waste collected during the campaign. - Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Bee’ah to make Sharjah no-waste place by first quarter of next year


posted on 17/02/2014

Bee'ah manages the Middle East's largest Material Recovery Facility at a capacity to process 500,000 tonnes of waste per year.
Automatic Restaurant on Buheirah Corniche Street is what you have to look out for when trying to locate the head office of Bee'ah, the environment and waste management company in Sharjah with near celebrity status.
The Bee'ah office has a partial rubber flooring made of recycled tyres at the entrance and is therefore, in many ways, more green than the green of the Lebanese joint.
Besides recycling tyres and transforming them into walkways, the organisation does other impressive work, too. Besides rubber, Bee'ah recycles 9.68 tonnes of paper and cardboard every day. They're chronic award-winners — largest this, biggest that — and their wings are only set to spread further with Sharjah bearing the happy fruit of this win-win situation. There is a mission underway by Bee'ah to lead the Emirate toward a ‘zero-waste to landfill' situation by 2015.
A recent study shows that waste generation in the UAE is at approximately 2.5kg/person/day. Comparatively, it is 2.1kg in the U.S; 2kg in Canada, and Beijing does really well at 0.85 kg/person/day.
The good news is that being the third largest such facility in the world, Bee'ah manages the Middle East's largest Material Recovery Facility at a capacity to process 500,000 tonnes of waste per year.
As far as Bee'ah is concerned, it's well on track to make Sharjah a no-waste place by the first quarter of next year. The group health and safety manager at Bee'ah, Mohammed Ahmed Abdulaziz — 23 years in the health and safety and who in the morning hours keeps his office lights switched off since daylight is adequate — says, even "based on risk assessment” – the goal will be met.
The residential recycling programme in Sharjah has had no small role to play in this target. Blue and green bins are placed all across Sharjah. And residents were handed a beginner's kit — a flyer and two boxes of waste bags (blue and green bin liners) to bring about awareness and normalise the habit of waste segregation in households. According to Bee'ah, "The residential programme helped the diversion rate by 5 per cent to 10 per cent, allowing the company to advance closer towards its long-term goal of 100 per cent diversion rate from landfill by 2015”
According to a study, ‘In 1997, the United States Academy of Science estimated that around 6.4 million tonnes of litter enters the world's oceans every year.” And that figure is 17 years old. Think of the ocean pollution you contribute to today by not recycling. And you don't have to live in Sharjah to segregate your trash. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/kt-article-display-1.asp?xfile=data/nationgeneral/2014/February/nationgeneral_February134.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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UAE economy has all factors needed to go green: Bin Fahd


posted on 04/02/2014

The UAE's sound policies under the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on diversification of sources of income and energy mix, deployment of innovation, technology and advanced practices and consideration of the environmental impact in development plans have had far-reaching impact on adoption of the green economy, Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, Minister of Environment and Water, has said.
The UAE, he asserted, is well on track to transform its national economy into a green economy in pursuit of the "UAE Green Development Strategy" launched by Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum under the theme "Green Economy for Sustainable Development".
In a statement on the UAE celebration of the 17th Environment Day under the slogan 'Green Economy: Innovation and Sustainability', the minister said, 'The Day is an important, national event in which we recall the remarkable achievements of the late founding father, Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, whose far-sighted vision, firm commitment and relentless efforts towards the sustainability of natural resources had earned the UAE a prominent place regionally and internationally." The minister also paid gratitude to the President for his kind patronage of the national event, which underscores the leadership's commitment to conservation of the environment and achievement of sustainable development.
'Adoption of the green economy is yet another important step towards the UAE Vision 2021,' he said, adding that the UAE economy is modern, flexible and vibrant and has all the factors needed to make the transformation into the green economy easier. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Breathe easy: UAE's household air quality is best in the world


posted on 01/02/2014

UAE among 29 countries that score a perfect 100 in household air quality
The UAE's household air quality ranks No. 1 in the world according to a Yale University study that assessed 178 nations on various parameters for its 2014 Environmental Performance Index (EPI).
With an overall score of 72.91 out of 100, the UAE ranks at No. 25 on Yale's EPI 2014, which ranks 178 countries across the world on the basis of their air quality, status of biodiversity and water and sanitation across 14 key environmental parameters.
"A ‘global scorecard' provides first-time insight as to collective policy impacts on the major environmental issues of our time. Overall, improvements have been made in many of the categories of the Environmental Health objective, including Access to Drinking Water, Child Mortality, and Access to Sanitation, though Air Quality has declined,” the EPI 2014 report states.
However, the UAE ranks among a handful of countries (29) that score a perfect 100 on Household Air Quality, along with GCC neighbour Qatar and regional peers Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Iraq, Lebanon and Iran.
Overall, Switzerland tops the EPI 2014 rankings with a score of 87.67, followed by Luxembourg (83.29), Australia (82.40), Singapore (81.78) and Czech Republic (81.47). Bringing the rear of the 178-country rankings are #178 Somalia (15.47), Mali (18.43), Haiti (19.01), Lesotho (20.81) and Afghanistan (21.57).
According to the report, since 1990, more than two billion people have gained access to improved drinking water and proper sanitation, exceeding Millennium Development Goal (MDG) targets and improving global well-being.
In Afghanistan alone, the percentage of households with access to clean drinking water shot up from 5 per cent in 1991 to 61 per cent in 2011. Ethiopia has also been able to connect more of its villages to safe drinking water through investment from the national government and international aid. These great successes resulted from a well-organised measurement system that allowed policymakers to track their performance, identify priority needs, and create mechanisms to maintain accountability.
There has been similar success in the protection of natural habitats. Well-organised data systems and clearly established targets have led to widespread increase in protected areas, like Mount Cameroon National Park in Cameroon. Cameroon established the park in 2009 because data showed the area is home to some of the most threatened mammal species in the world.
Likewise, Peru is one of the few countries to carefully analyse its territory to identify areas where critically threatened or endangered species exist, and to specifically protect these areas. What these results demonstrate is that targeted, data-driven investments do deliver progress. – Emirates 24/7

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UAE's Vision 2021 on sustainable development resonates with UN's Green Economy initiative


posted on 01/02/2014

In its efforts to incorporate sustainable development through a sustainable and diversified economy within the United Arab Emirates Vision 2021 framework, the Ministry of Environment '&' Water is pleased to host The 1st Global Conference partnership for Action on Green Economy conference on 4-5 March in Dubai.
To be held under the patronage of Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, the conference is a joint initiative by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water and UN agencies like United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), International Labour Organisation (ILO), United Nations Industrial Development organisation and United Nations Institute for Training and Research (UNITAR).
"When Sheikh Mohammed launched a long-term national initiative two years ago to build a green economy in the U.A.E. under the slogan 'A green economy for sustainable development', the aim was to become one of the world leaders as well as a centre for the export and re-export of green products and technologies, and to maintain a sustainable environment to support long-term economic growth," explained Al Abdooli.
Green economy is considered as one of the important sustainable solutions to solve and rectify the impacts of the development on the environment, especially when our environmental resources were affected negatively by the massive economic development that was witnessed by the world in the last years. That leads to the escalation of several environmental problems on the national and international levels such as climate change and biodiversity degradation and pollution.
The conference will be an opportunity to review the progress on implementing the Green Economy in the context of sustainable development following Rio+20, and also a chance to consider how greener economies can contribute to the emerging development agenda and new global architecture for sustainability. Moreover, the conference will explore the context of the social benefits of transitioning to inclusive, environmentally friendly and resource-efficient green economies.
"With sustainability becoming a keyword where governments' eyes are set on creating a greener' world, a comprehensive suite of green economy services that will enable countries to transform their national economic structures to meet the growing demands and challenges of the 21st century are being put in place," said Aisha Al Abdooli, Assistant Undersecretary of Environment Affairs at UAE Ministry of Environment and Water.
"In this context the hosting of the first Global Conference on Partnership for Action on Green Economy by the UAE Government reflects the tremendous efforts put in by the nation's rulers in ensuring that the UAE vigorously supports international initiatives to protect the environment in full consciousness of its worldwide responsibility in the face of humanity's shared ecological challenges." PAGE is a response to the outcome document of the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20), entitled The Future We Want, which recognizes the green economy as a vehicle for sustainable development and poverty eradication. PAGE will support 30 countries over the next seven years in building national green economy strategies that will generate new jobs and skills, promote clean technologies, and reduce environmental risks and poverty.
"The ministry's vision of Assuring Environmental Sustainability for Life resonates the efforts that PAGE will inspire through the bringing together of ideas from around the world," she added. "Our mission is to strive towards integrated management for environment ecosystem and natural resources to realize a Green Economy for the present and future generations." The roadmap for UAE Green Growth Strategy focused on seven sectors, oil and gas, water and electricity, transport, construction, agriculture, industry and waste management to be transformed into sustainable models. This was done through strong engagement with the stakeholders in those sectors within UAE. PAGE hopes to adopt some of these measures based on the Rio Declaration.
Twenty years after the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, where countries adopted Agenda 21 - a blueprint to rethink economic growth, advance social equity and ensure environmental protection - the UN is again bringing together governments, international institutions and major groups to agree on a range of smart measures that can reduce poverty while promoting decent jobs, clean energy and a more sustainable and fair use of resources.
"Green economy is an economy or economic development model based on sustainable development and knowledge of ecological economics. Anticipating the problems of tomorrow is the only reasonable way to preserve and enhance our way of life, acting with initiative in full awareness of our collective responsibility. The UAE will benefit from a sustainable and diversified economy by being flexible in adopting new economic models and capitalising on global economic partnerships to guarantee long-term prosperity for current and future generation of Emiratis," concluded Al Abdooli. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Minister of Environment and Water launches UAE celebrations on 17th National Environment Day


posted on 31/01/2014

Under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, yesterday launched the UAE celebrations on the occasion of the 17th National Environment Day, which is being held under the slogan "Green Economy .. Innovation and Sustainability." During a press conference held yesterday in Masdar City, Abu Dhabi, Dr. bin Fahad said that the efforts to protect the environment and its development in the UAE has the full support of the wise leadership, which has had a great impact on the prestigious stature attained by the UAE on "the map of global environmental action." He said that the UAE had kept pace and paid attention to the green economy, where the Ministry of Environment and Water paved the way for this approach since 2009 by holding annual conferences about the green economy, in which many experts, interested parties and specialists in the fields of the economy and the environment in both the public and private sectors participated.
The press conference was attended by a number of directors of municipalities and representatives of environment authorities in the country as well as a number of Masdar officials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Burj Al Arab awarded Green Globe Certification by Farnek


posted on 27/01/2014

The luxurious Burj Al Arab hotel in Dubai has been awarded international Green Globe Certification (GGC) following a comprehensive sustainability audit conducted by Dubai-based consultancy Farnek, GGC's preferred partner in the Middle East.
Repeatedly voted the world's most luxurious hotel, Burj Al Arab consists of 202 duplex suites with personal butler service, chauffeur-driven Rolls Royce and helicopter airport transfers.
The hotel can now add the Green Globe certification to its long list of accolades, proving that luxury can be green.
"We are delighted to receive this prestigious recognition that reinforces our commitment to sustainable practices”, said Heinrich Morio, General Manager at Burj Al Arab.
"The certificate is a testament to Burj Al Arab's dedication to ensuring that green policies are at the heart of our business and that they are an essential part of our long-term business strategy”.
Sandrine Le Biavant, Director Consultancy, Farnek added: "For over a decade the stunning sail-shaped hotel has been an iconic symbol of modern Dubai and its flourishing hospitality industry. Now, with the Green Globe award, the Burj Al Arab. – The Gulf Today – Read more: http://gulfyesterday.ae/portal/0e7300b9-a860-4387-b053-86619da4dd6c.aspx

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Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi's Air Quality Standardisation Unit receives international accreditation


posted on 31/12/2013

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi's (EAD) Air Quality Laboratory has received ISO-17025 accreditation from the National Association of Testing Authorities in Australia - making it the first laboratory in the UAE to receive accreditation in the field of calibration of air quality monitoring gases, mixtures and instruments. The work conducted at the laboratory is now officially recognised under international best practice for quality control testing and procedures.
One of EAD's strategic priorities is to ensure clean air for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Its air quality programme helps monitor the Emirate's air by tracking important information, 24 hours a day, from its 20 monitoring stations located across Abu Dhabi Emirate.
Data is transmitted in near real time every hour and allows citizens and residents to better understand the status of air quality in the surrounding areas.
In just under two years, EAD successfully implemented an enhanced system of quality assurance and control (QA/QC) measures for its developing air quality monitoring network. Following an audit and site visit by the National Association of Testing Authorities (NATA), the laboratory was awarded the ISO-17025 accreditation. NATA is the authority responsible for the accreditation of laboratories, inspection bodies, calibration services, producers of certified reference materials and proficiency testing scheme providers. Additionally, the NATA accreditation is recognised by bodies globally through the International Laboratory Accreditation Cooperation (ILAC).
Ruqaya Mahmoud Mohamed, Manager of Air Quality, Noise and Climate Change at EAD, said, "The accreditation acknowledges EAD as a leading entity for air quality monitoring in the region, and ensures that the data collected by our network is supported by robust quality procedures. It also allows for comparisons and exchange of information on air quality with international peers." She added, "Our network of 20 air monitoring stations provides us with information on the level of pollutants such as nitrogen oxides, sulphur dioxide, carbon monoxide, particulates and more. The data collected is accessible by the public on the EAD air quality website in near real time." The laboratory consists of a range of gas analysers, calibration equipment and compressed gas standards. The quality assurance procedures ensure that the calibration gases of all equipment is traceable to international standards such as those of the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST) in the U.S. Department of Commerce. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE residents plant 315 indigenous trees in Ras Al Khaimah through EEG's Recycling Campaigns


posted on 22/12/2013

Emirates Environmental Group (EEG) has organized a "Tree Planting Drive" in the Emirate of Ras Al Khamiah at the Al Jazeera Landfill staged under the banner of the 12th edition of its Clean Up UAE Campaign. EEG's efforts have been aimed at helping the regional environment as a whole.
EEG has uniquely bridged two of its programmes connecting waste management with tree planting and encouraging participants to be engaged in both these pro environmental initiatives. During the event, eco-friendly residents from all walks for the society - public and private institutions, academic institutions and families - came together to plant a total of 315 indigenous trees. This event brought the curtains down on the three of the most important annual programs of EEG for the year 2013. This unique model of EEG connects its recycling campaigns with encouraging people to plant trees. These were the "Your Can for a Tree Initiative", the "Neighbourhood Recycling Project" and the "One Root One Communi-Tree Project".
"As the year draws to a close and we prepare for 2014, EEG can proudly look back on this date as a milestone event in the eco-drive for the country, said Habiba Al Marashi, Chairperson EEG.
During the entire tree planning drive, all the trees were planted under the name of the participating organizations, academic institutions or families. This unique benefit, of having a tree planted under their name, was EEG's way of showing respect to the participants and thanking them for their enthusiastic participation throughout the year in EEG campaigns. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE devises green strategy to unify existing policies


posted on 18/12/2013

A road map for a cleaner and greener UAE is ready and will be presented to the Cabinet next week.
The National Green Growth Strategy aims to unify the seven emirates' environment policies and develop initiatives in seven key sectors across the country.
"This week we had our last committee meeting,” said Dr Rashid bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water. "This week or the next, we will present it to the Cabinet.
"Last year we had a national dialogue with all sectors on ways to transform the UAE economy into a green economy, concentrating on the important sectors. All sectors have agreed on a road map and the means to achieve it.”
Dr bin Fahad was speaking in Dubai to announce the UAE's hosting of the first Global Partnership for Action on Green Economy conference in March next year.
The event, organised with the United Nations Environment Programme, will see world leaders, corporations, scientists and researchers convene in Dubai.
It will build on last year's Rio+20 UN conference in Brazil on sustainable development.
"Green economy is considered as one of the important solutions to solve and rectify the impacts of development on the environment,” Dr bin Fahad said.
"We in the UAE are already green and having such a conference is testimony of the UAE's progress. It is for the world to see for themselves the UAE's projects on sustainability and green economy.
"Having this conference supports the UN's efforts and is for us to learn from other countries.”
The ministry this year announced it would develop a unified green action plan within the next nine months for the oil and gas, water and electricity, transport, building, waste, planning and agricultural sectors.
The Green Growth Strategy for Sustainable Development was launched in January last year by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai.
The new national plan will help integrate the initiatives of the seven emirates, said Aisha Al Abdooli, the ministry's acting assistant Under Secretary for environment affairs.
"We thought we should have all the initiatives under one umbrella. If we have scattered initiatives here and there, you are not serving the purpose,” Ms Al Abdooli said.
"We want to boost the UAE at the international level. The beauty of this strategy is that it builds on existing policies.”
She said that after the strategy was approved by the Cabinet this month, its implementation would begin across the different sectors.
The UN said the Dubai conference would help to create a plan of action for the international community.
"The concept of green economy is mushrooming across the globe,” said Achim Steiner, Under Secretary and executive director of the UN programme.
"The answers we have to find in this day and age will be different from that of the 20th century.
"We are looking forward to this first global conference being the premier platform in which leaders, pioneers, practitioners, policymakers and ministers will come together to assess how successful these policies are, which ones are likely to be replicable in other countries and what can be done for one another.”
Mr Steiner said green economy was not an ideology.
"It is a set of principles that recognise the scientific realities we know today about the limits to pollution and the limits of using nature in a way that will ultimately destroy it if it is not sustainable use,” he said. – The National
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Dubai intends to be the most sustainable city by 2020


posted on 17/12/2013

Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, said the civic body is working hard to make the city of Dubai one of the top ten sustainable cities in the world by 2020, implementing the green building regulations and related orders in line with the strategic vision and goals of the Dubai Government.
These comments came when the Director-General was speaking about the plans of Dubai Municipality in preparation to host EXPO 2020, when he said, "We are obliged to fulfil our word in front of the world that we will create an amazing future connecting the minds of all nationalities, as we realise that the eyes of the entire world are looking on Dubai to find out what we are going to do in years to come.
"We won this opportunity as result of the long sighted vision and plans of our leadership, which are crystal clear from the current structure and ongoing projects in the emirate of Dubai. The civic body has already started its efforts towards creating the most sustainable city in the world. It has recently formed a special committee for sustainability which will study and execute green initiatives." Abdullah Rafia, Assistant Director-General of Dubai Municipality and Chairman of Sustainability Committee said, "The committee's responsibilities include developing mechanisms to evaluate green buildings and the extent of achieved sustainability and follow-up of procedures for the implementation of such mechanisms with concerned authorities in the Emirate of Dubai, in addition to propose, coordinate and review studies and research on the sustainability and development of programs and plans for the adoption, dissemination and application of the recommendations in coordination with the relevant authorities." Mohamed Noor Mashroom, Director of General Projects Department, said, "We strictly implement green building rules in our all new projects and take necessary steps gradually to change the old systems to energy saving systems.
"Currently the areas under the responsibility of DM include street lighting, roadway lighting, parks, community facilities, parking lots, city landscaping, residential and commercial buildings, pedestrian and bicycling pathways," Mashroom said.
"Through solar powered lighting, the civic body aims to provide a safe and secure environment at night, extend the use of parks and walkways into the night, enhance historical and notable features, enhance travel on the roads and at intersections,' he explained.
The General Projects Department has successfully implemented a solar powered lighting system in its prestigious projects and facilities like H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Sports Complex, Al Mushrif Park, Al Barsha 2nd Pond Park, Al Safouh Park, Al Warqaa 2nd Neighbourhood Park, Port Saeed Plaza, Al Warqaa 3rd Community Facility, Al Awir Park, Lehbab CF, Hatta CF and Nazwa CF.
Juma Khalifa Al Fuqae, Director of General Maintenance Department, said that the department has already started replacing the old lighting systems with LED technology in premises and public facilities governed by the civic body in the emirate of Dubai, aiming at saving around 55% of energy consumption.
"The initiative would help DM save money, energy and environment at same time boosting its strategy to create the most sustainable city in world," he concluded. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Over 100 satellite images show environmental change over time in the Arab region


posted on 11/12/2013

The pace of environmental change in the Arab region seems to be more rapid than in the rest of the world due to the pace of economic and social development, according to the UNEP atlas for the Arab region, released yesterday.
The United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, and the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative, AGEDI, supported by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), released "The Arab Region: Atlas of Our Changing Environment". The atlas examines the environmental changes that have taken place at more than 80 locations across the Arab region, using a combination of on-the-ground photographs, current and historical satellite images, with narrative based on extensive scientific evidence.
Before and after studies in the atlas clearly demonstrate the pace of development in the region, offering compelling examples of wide-ranging environmental change, including land use change, urban growth, degradation of marine and coastal areas, altered hydrology and shrinking water bodies, loss of habitats and impacts of climate change. The Atlas images serve to highlight the distinctive environmental circumstances and challenges faced in the Arab region, from limited freshwater resources, rapid urbanisation, depletion of natural resources, and the vulnerability of many Arab settlements to environmental risks and natural disasters.
The Atlas brings to light stories of environmental change through images showing evidence of changes taking place in the land, water and atmosphere, and covering trans-boundary issues like river basins, trans-boundary conservation areas and pollutants. It also illustrates how humans have positively or negatively altered their surroundings and continue to make observable and measurable changes to the Arab region and its environment.
Although the challenges depicted are striking, the atlas examines the opportunities that these challenges present, as well as some of the innovative responses that are being implemented in the region.
The atlas also shines a light on the unique environmental issues faced by each country, and tracks the individual progress each is making towards achieving the goal of Ensuring Environmental Sustainability, as part of the United Nation's Millennium Development Goals.
Aimed at environmental policy-makers, non-governmental organisations, the private sector, academics, teachers and the public, the atlas will bring local-level changes to the attention of global audiences and support improved decision-making and policy formulation for a more sustainable future.
The atlas is the latest addition to a series of atlases coordinated by UNEP that began in 2005 with the launch of a global atlas, "One Planet, Many People." This new atlas is an important addition to the growing suite of UNEP atlases that not only aim to fascinate and intrigue readers, but also aim to contribute to a better understanding of the dynamics of environmental change in the Arab region. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Mohammed bin Rashid plants first salt-tolerant red mangrove on Sir Bani Yas Island


posted on 09/12/2013

Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum yesterday planted the first red mangrove tree on the Sir Bani Yas Island. A bird sanctuary as well as a wildlife reserve, the island is one of Abu Dhabi's largest islands on the Arabian Gulf.
Sheikh Mohammed planted the evergreen tree, which lives in saline, wet habitats, during his visit to the island to chair a two-day cabinet retreat to discuss suggestions for developing education and health sectors. He praised the idea of relocation of the tree on the island, considering the diverse species of flora on the Sir Bani Yas island as an enduring national legacy and treasure left by the founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and our role is to conserve and develop them for the benefit of future generations.
Sheikh Mohammed was accompanied by H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE
Minister of Finance, H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affairs, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, and a number of ministers and senior officials.
As one of the largest natural islands in the emirate of Abu Dhabi, Sir Bani Yas, thanks to decades of intensive conservation work and ecological investment, is today home to thousands of large free-roaming animals and several million trees and plants, breeding programmes for endangered species and numerous exciting tourism activities.
The island has a wide variety of resilient, desert tolerant plants that are able to withstand the harsh, arid environment like Sider, Ghaf (Prosopis cineraria), Gum Arabic, Frankincense and Toothbrush Tree. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE Green Festival set to give nation sustainable identity


posted on 09/12/2013

Under the theme "Live, learn and have fun in a low carbon world”, the UAE Green Festival, a country-wide celebration to take place on March.16 and last for one month, is meant to unveil the UAE's sustainable identity.
Officially launched in Abu Dhabi in Masdar, the Festival comes as a result of prolonged hours of planning and preparation to make the United Arab Emirates a leading sustainable destination that provides its residents and visitors a quality life.
The festival will comprise ecotourism, sustainable transportation and green technology among others. Each of these sustainable pillars will bid an array of eco-friendly activities and functions.
UAE businesses are increasingly committed to sustainability.
The UAE Green Festival comes as the ideal platform to showcase and promote their green practices and initiatives and to raise awareness among the residents and visitors to adopt an eco-friendly lifestyle.
Several UAE Government bodies are supporting the UAE Green Festival, such as the Ministry of Education, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Authority, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and the Federal Electricity and Water Authority (Fewa) among others.
The UAE Green Festival has launched a smartphone application, the "UAE Green App,” that includes the UAE Green Times Magazine which offers green tips and tackles environmental issues locally and internationally and the Green Map which is a locator of UAE Green Businesses and the events of the festival that keep users posted with all the latest updates.
During the festival, UAE Art Galleries will embrace exhibitions showcasing green art, paintings on mother nature, landscapes, photographs and recycled art, which will encompass the environment and other ecological topics.
Art galleries will connect people to eco-art by displaying nature and sustainable arts in a bid to educate the public on sustainability.
Arjun Art Gallery, Abu Dhabi, will be displaying a collection of paintings and photographs on landscapes, horses and flowers made by Emiratis and GCC artists.
Art Couture, Dubai, will display photographs from a group of locally based photographers highlighting the beauty of our heritage as well as the environment.
J+A Gallery, Dubai, during the Festival, will showcase a number of recycled pieces by designers from Apodakollektiv, as well as contemporary design that incorporates the idea of sustainability and unique recycled pieces by Klaus Mertens.
In addition, many other art galleries are involved and will be opening doors to present their eco-art pieces.
Hotels in the UAE will take part in the UAE Green Festival by promoting their sustainable practices and involving their guests in this experience.
Hotels such as Atlantis, Jebel Ali Resort, St Regis Saadyat, Park Hyatt, Marriott, Marjan Island, Shangri La, Hilton Al Ain, Radisson Blu Sharjah, Holiday Inn, will be arranging green activities such as having a green zone to showcase all their green practices, planting activities, and much more.
Moreover, Abu Dhabi and Dubai will host an "incomparable” Green Auto Show demonstrating sustainable transportation. – The Gulf Today
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Transplants give a life-saving lift to Abu Dhabi’s oldest trees


posted on 07/12/2013

They are some of the city's oldest inhabitants, a race of giants whose roots literally go deep into the city. Now they are safe for future generations to enjoy.
In developing the new Mushrif Central Park, exceptional measures are being taken to preserve the trees that have long stood on the site.
"These may be some of the oldest trees in Abu Dhabi,” explains Abdul Aziz HusainAhmed, with more than a touch of pride. "They are priceless.”
Mr Ahmed is the chief executive of Al Ain Properties, the company given the job of developing the Dh179 million open space.
"We are not developing empty land here,” he explains on a tour of the site. "Since the beginning, our idea was to preserve the trees in the park.”
Such redevelopment is rare in the UAE due to land availability and a preference among developers and planners for swift, uncomplicated construction on previously undeveloped, or "greenfield” sites.
It is pattern written into the city's developmental DNA in expanding new communities on Reem and Saadiyat islands, Khalifa City, Mohammed bin Zayed City, and Al Falah.
So on those rare occasions when existing, "brownfield” sites are redeveloped, like Aldar's new World Trade Centre and Central Market in Al Markaziya, the site is usually cleared and existing structures are replaced entirely by the new.
Until recently, one of the most notable exceptions to this pattern was Khalifa Park, home to the culturally significant majlis of Sheikh Shakhbut.
Mushrif Central Park, which replaces the old ladies-only garden between Airport Road and Al Karama Street, displays a sensitivity towards natural heritage. The crown jewels of the park are its trees.
When it closed in January last year, the 14-hectare garden was home to about 1,100 trees. The most mature of these are as old as the park, which opened in 1982.
Despite wholesale demolition and redevelopment, as the park is now one of Abu Dhabi's largest construction sites, a remarkable 940 of the park's original trees have been saved.
Given that thousands of mature trees have been destroyed in the course of Abu Dhabi's recent development, this is no mean feat. Of those that were lost at the park most were discarded because of their poor condition or health.
Of those that remained, 800 have been protected on site while 240 that could not be accommodated because of the requirements of the new park have been dug up, placed in enormous wooden crates, and await replanting in positions that correspond with the new design.
Many of these line the entrance to the site, like so many oversized bonsai in some gigantic nursery.
"I experience a moment of silence when I saw how these trees are being treated,” explains Mr Ahmed. "Most, if not all the people of Abu Dhabi inherited from Sheikh Zayed a respect for trees. It is in our blood.
"I have seen throughout my life how Sheikh Zayed respected trees, how roads in Al Ain and Abu Dhabi were diverted because of them, so to see what is being done in this park is amazing.”
Digging up a 31-year-old tree that may weigh up to 40 tonnes, moving it, keeping it alive while it is in storage, and then successfully replanting it is no easy task.
The procedure involves a high degree of risk. In the early stages the plant can die from the shock of being dug up and having its roots pruned, in the same way a human might from serious trauma.
There are also dangers associated with dehydration, relocation and transplanting.
But the park is using a technique of transplanting mature trees that has been perfected over the past 50 years in the US and recently imported by the UAE.
"First of all, you have to decide if the tree is in good condition and health, and whether or not it is worth spending the money to move it,” explains Adam Bradley, the park's site development manager.
Then you have to decide what size container you need. The larger the container, the higher the success rate, but the higher the cost as well.”
Some of the larger trees at the park, which include native species such as ghaf, sidr and samur reach almost 10 metres in height and require wooden containers that are more than 2.5 metres in diameter.
After the trees have been assessed, they have to be excavated by hand, have their roots and some of their branches pruned to allow them to be moved, and are then potted into the huge wooden crates.
Before the bottom of the crate can be fitted and the tree moved, the trees have to be left until they start to show signs of new growth.
Once this occurs and the landscape teams are sure the plant has recovered from the experience, the tree can then be moved, an operation that normally requires a crane. The whole process is hugely labour intensive and Mr Bradley refuses to be drawn on precise costs.
"It varies on the size of the tree, where it's going to, how long it's being stored for, how it's being transported, and its location.
"If you need a significant crane or even two cranes to install a tree, that will all affect the cost of relocation. It can range anywhere from a few thousand dirhams to Dh40,000 or Dh50,000.”
While such costs may sound exorbitant, Mr Bradley insists the value of the trees needs to be considered in the round, a position supported by international research into the value of urban trees.
In 2007, the city of New York conducted a "resource analysis” of its municipal forest, which identified urban trees as important to the city's infrastructure as its buildings, streets, bridges and roads, and identified the tangible and intangible benefits associated with them.
The study was able to assign annual values to a tree's ability to contribute to energy savings through shading – $27.8 million for the forest, or $47.63 a tree (Dh175) – and to sequester carbon – $754,947 or $1.29 (Dh4.7) a tree.
Value was added for the trees' ability to remove pollutants from the atmosphere and groundwater, to assist in flood prevention, and even to contribute to the value of real estate.
It concluded that for the $37 the city of New York spent on each of its trees, it received $172 in net annual benefits to the community, and that for every dollar spent on planting and maintenance, it saw a $5.60 return.
It is a picture that has been confirmed by similar studies in other US cities such as Colorado and by studies in Australia and the UK.
But for Mr Bradley, it is the potential loss of resources that is one of the key considerations for saving trees.
"I would sooner see these trees saved rather than seeing them bulldozed and replaced with a new tree. That's really what we're talking about here,” he says.
"But look at the cost that this tree has incurred in its life. The cost of producing the water it has consumed over the past 25 to 30 years. How many man hours of labour have been spent looking after it?”
Unfortunately, as Dr Celia Way of engineering giant Buro Happold's sustainability and physics team explains, trying to make such a calculation is fraught with difficulties.
"The issue associated with calculating the amount of embedded water in something like a tree is the lack of readily available data, and unless you have information about the tree's whole life cycle it is very difficult to make an assessment,” Dr Way says.
"A tree may have been given the same amount of water every day for the past 10 years, but that figure wouldn't give you its water footprint.”
The concept of a water footprint was developed in 2002 in an attempt to do for water what carbon footprints did for carbon dioxide.
Implicit in the concept is an attempt to shift our focus away from a concern with immediate consumption, or the amount of water a tree might consume in a day, towards an approach that considers the amount of "virtual water” that lies hidden in the whole cycle of production, transport and consumption.
As Arjen Hoekstra, the University of Twente professor who first described the water footprint explains: "The amounts of water used for the production of goods and services are big amounts.
"Once you realise that water is a global resource and not, like many people think, a local resource you realise that people do leave something like a water footprint, which is the amount of water that you use but not necessarily at home.”
Prof Hoekstra's organisation Water Footprint Network says the global average water footprint is 1,385 cubic metres of water for each person a year, but the water footprint of UAE residents is 3,136 cu metres, 75.7 per cent of which falls outside the country.
To put this in perspective, 1 cu metre of water equals 1,000 litres of water.
As Prof Hoekstra and Dr Way are keen to point out, one of the most important differences between carbon and water footprints is that while a carbon footprint may be universal, the impact of a water footprint changes according to location and time.
Put simply, the effect of using 100 cu metres of water in a place with a plentiful supply is very different from the effect of using the same amount in a place or time when water is scarce.
Until more data is available, the effect of the water footprint concept on design and development in water-scarce countries such as the UAE is uncertain.
But for Dr Way, even an awareness of the concept and its repercussions should allow for decision making that is more responsible and informed.
"You have to take a pragmatic approach,” she says. "That's the challenge we face. Given the population density in the Middle East, how do you mediate its effect?
"How do you turn that into a force for good and how can we actually have a beneficial effect on the local environment?” – The National Read more: http://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/transplants-give-a-life-saving-lift-to-abu-dhabis-oldest-trees#page3#ixzz2mlJKZtlh
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