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THE COUNTRY & THE ENVIRONMENT - ENVIRONMENT


Ministry of Environment and Water signs strategic MoU with Norway Fishing Foundation


posted on 27/08/2014

The U.A.E. Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) has signed a Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Nor-Fishing Foundation and Informa Middle East Limited, one of the region's leading providers of high quality conferences, to organise ‘Aqua Middle East' (AquaME) and ‘Aqua ME Summit' in conjunction with AgraME taking place from 16th-18th March 2015 at the Dubai Exhibition and Convention Centre.
Nor-Fishing Foundation was established in 1992 by the Norwegian Ministry of Fisheries. Over the last 30 years, not only have they been responsible for organising the Norwegian international fisheries exhibition "Nor-Fishing" – regarded as the leading international fisheries trade show – but also the leading international aquaculture venue "Aqua Nor" in Norway, making them the ideal international partner for AquaME.
The partnership is a move to consolidate and encourage co-operation to improve the aquaculture sector, which falls in line with the U.A.E.'s strategic objectives to promote food security and environmental sustainability contributing to the U.A.E.'s Vision 2021.
The MoU was signed by MoEW Assistant Under-Secretary for Support Services, Abdul Rahim Al Hammadi, and Nor-Fishing Foundation Chairman of Board, Mrs Liv Holmefjord, and Informa Middle East Limited Exhibition Director Richard Pavitt, earlier this week in Trondheim, Norway, in the presence of Mohammed AlJuwaied, U.A.E. Ambassador to the Kingdom of Norway.
Under the MoU, all parties will work in close collaboration towards promoting the development of the aquaculture and fishing industry by hosting an exhibition to attract local and international suppliers from within these industries. Furthermore, in parallel to the trade show, the AquaME Summit, the second edition of the Aquaculture Investment Forum, will be organised to bring experts and specialists from around the world to exchange experiences, transfer knowledge and review best practices, advances and innovations in research, science and technology thereby strengthening the aquaculture and fishing industry in the U.A.E..
The total current market valuation of investments in to the U.A.E. aquaculture sector stands at US$ 321 million, with 20 million of that amount being invested in to the Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan Marine Research Centre. The project, which was launched in February 2013, aims to produce 10 million juveniles per year of local indigenous species and will contribute to enhancing food security in the U.A.E.. Furthermore, the centre will support research focusing on overexploited species and habitat conservation measures. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268937721.html

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EAD’s push for improved industrial compliance reaches the USA


posted on 06/08/2014

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently shared some of the Emirate's best practices in the field of air quality monitoring and waste management at a major international air and waste management conference in the USA.
EAD's Eltezam campaign and Inspections and Compliance Tool – both aimed at monitoring and regulating industry – featured at the Air and Waste Management Association Conference, which took place in Long Beach, California last month.
Eng. Khalid Al Hajeri, Manager of Compliance and Enforcement, and Ahmad Al Waheebi, Head of Compliance and Audit, from EAD presented Abu Dhabi's efforts in air monitoring and waste management to more than 100 of the world's leading environmental experts at the event.
Through the Eltezam campaign, which means ‘compliance' in Arabic, EAD worked with 160 facilities in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to raise their awareness about the importance of complying with their environmental permit conditions, specifically around the release of Particulate Matter (PM) – a primary by-product from cement-mixing. The campaign entailed capacity building, rigorous inspections and enforcement of regulations.
Ahmad Al Waheebi, Head of Compliance and Audit, EAD said: "Following Eltezam's previous success in engaging the Ready Mix sector to raise awareness of the importance of limiting the amount of Particulate Matter (PM), our campaign provided the industry with guidance on best practice and compliance. We recorded a 46 percent improvement in compliance within the sector in one year." The second case study presented in the USA was the Inspections and Compliance Tool (ICT). This tool is used by EAD to monitor compliance of facilities and projects.
Eng. Al Hajeri said: "Since we introduced this state-of-the-art technology, the our information collation process has become more efficient and has helped us better focus on minimising environmental impact across the Emirate. With tools like this, we can contribute to achieving sustainable development and continue working toward a cleaner future." – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268388814.html

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EAD releases annual report highlighting 2013 achievements


posted on 05/08/2014

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, has released its annual report for 2013, which highlights its efforts and commitment to protecting and enhancing air quality, groundwater and the bio-diversity of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi's desert and its marine ecosystem.
Speaking on the occasion of the release of the report, which is available in both English and Arabic, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and EAD Chairman, said, "EAD is focused on implementing programmes and initiatives that help protect the environment, which are based on priorities set by the Abu Dhabi Environment Vision 2030. This vision is an integral part of a comprehensive programme approved by the Government of Abu Dhabi, which includes economic, environmental and social policies that will help lead Abu Dhabi towards sustainable development." "Successfully achieving our goals in environmental protection will reflect on our environment and our economy, which will in turn benefit our society by minimising environmental risks, enhancing the quality of life, conserving our natural resources for future generations, and creating new job opportunities," H.H. Sheikh Hamdan added.
Sheikh Hamdan went on to say, "We extend our gratitude to President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the U.A.E. Armed Forces, for their ongoing support for all projects that will benefit future generations." EAD's accomplishments, which are summarised in the report, include enhancing strategic planning expertise on waste management, air quality, water, bio-diversity, climate change and acquiring an additional 440 groundwater wells. This has led, for the first time, to producing a comprehensive, trans-national monitoring network that has received international recognition for the Al Wathba Wetland Reserve as a Ramsar Convention adherent site, as well as the launching of the Abu Dhabi Greenhouse Gas Emissions Inventory, and the successful engagement of the industrial sector, which helped improve compliance and limit the amount of particulate matter emitted into the atmosphere.
In the report's foreword, Mohammed Al Bowardi, EAD's Managing Director, said, "Since its establishment in 1996, EAD has played a major role in protecting Abu Dhabi's public health and ensuring the integrity of the ecosystem through research, development and implementation of key environmental policies and regulations. These efforts have been carried out under the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, in line with the legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, the founding father of the U.A.E., and under the guidance of H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region and Chairman of EAD." "As the Emirate of Abu Dhabi continues to develop, it becomes even more critical that EAD strengthens its regulatory and enforcement framework and continues to consolidate knowledge and data for more informed environmental decision-making. One such example this year was when EAD led a pioneering ‘Blue Carbon' project, that has provided us with an unprecedented understanding of how Abu Dhabi's coastal and marine ecosystems play a critical role in fighting climate change," Al Bowardi added.
"EAD is committed to working towards achieving its goals, in partnership with its stakeholders on local and international levels to achieve its mandate and to maintain the leading position of both Abu Dhabi and the U.A.E. in environmental sustainability for the benefit of the current and future generations," Al Bowardi concluded.
Commenting on EAD's 2013 achievements, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD's Secretary-General, said, "EAD successfully achieved significant milestones within the environment protection roadmap which we put forth in our strategy including government-wide environmental strategies and policies, elevating the understanding and execution of environmental activities on the national agenda." Amongst EAD's other key accomplishments for the year, 637 facility inspections were conducted to ensure that they comply with permit conditions. The authority has dealt with around 1,000 violations, some of which related to inefficient recordkeeping, inadequate employee training and the transfer of hazardous materials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268338745.html

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U.A.E. outlines environmental goals


posted on 05/08/2014

Water management, reducing the negative environmental impact of quarrying and the promotion of sustainable farming and fishing practices are top priorities for the U.A.E., according to the Minister of the Environment and Water.
Ensuring the sustainable use of scarce water resources is a key goal for the Emirates, Dr. Rashid bin Fahad said, adding, "We have implemented a series of initiatives and programmes aimed at developing national legislations, standards and work mechanisms for achieving integrated water resources management, improving natural water resources and preserving fresh groundwater in addition to supporting strategic supplies." Dr. bin Fahad, according to The National daily, said that the Ministry is preparing a draft law to regulate the work of small-scale desalination plants processing groundwater for use in farms. It is also carrying out regular inspections at quarries and crushers to ensure that public health and environmental measures are respected.
Last year, a total of 315 field inspections were carried out in the northern emirates, said Dr. bin Fahad. Of the facilities inspected, 27 were closed down for periods of one to three months and another 23 facilities had warnings issued.
During the first quarter of this year, the Ministry carried out 49 field inspections, including five at night. These resulted in the closing down of one quarry and the issuing of warnings to four others, a decrease from last year when 12 quarries were closed down and another four warned within the same period.
"Such an apparent decrease in the violations reflects the ministry's constant efforts and successful measures against violating quarries and stone crushers," said Dr. bin Fahad.
The minister also discussed recent regulations issued to manage the fishing industry, saying, "The ministry has recently issued a series of resolutions on the regulation of fishing as well as the equipment and boats used," he said.
Cabinet Resolution No. 14 of 2014 exempted fishermen from all ministry service fees, such as registration and removal from register, issuing and renewing boat, captain and crew licences, sale contract legalisation fees and fishing boats mortgage registration and cancellation.
The Ministry has also launched an initiative to encourage fishermen by providing them with equipment, such as engines and cranes, at half price. Together with its counterparts in the Ministry of Public Works, it is also redeveloping 24 fishing ports throughout the country. However, fishermen also have a responsibility to observe good practices and environmental laws, said Dr. bin Fahad, adding that the federal fishing law is being currently updated.
The Minister also commented on the development of farming in the country. There were 5,687 farms in the U.A.E. in the early 1970's, and that number has now risen to 35,252. The ministry is encouraging farmers to use hydroponics which saves water and can be used to grow cucumbers, tomatoes, peppers, lettuce and fruits like melons and strawberries.
The technique was first introduced in the country in 2009, when there were 50 such greenhouses, compared to 700 of them at the end of 2013.
Farmers are also encouraged to resort to organic farming to grow chemical-free products. In the past four years, the ministry has provided more than 50,000 tonnes of organic fertilisers and 30,000 bags of cucumber and tomato seeds, in addition to 1,500 containers of organic pesticides and other items, to more than 10,000 farmers.
"Organic products bear a distinctive mark to enhance consumer confidence," said Dr. bin Fahad. "There are currently 43 certified organic farms and the Ministry is creating new marketing opportunities for organic products in collaboration with competent local authorities to encourage organic farmers." – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395268337315.html

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Ministry of Environment and Water issues resolution covering regulation of hunting and trading of sharks


posted on 27/07/2014

Dr. Rashid Ahmad bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, has issued Ministerial Resolution (500) for the year 2014 regulating the hunting and trading of sharks, which will take effect on September 1.
The resolution limits the hunting of sharks in fishing waters not less than five nautical miles from the shores of the UAE and not less than three nautical miles from the islands of the UAE. This will prevent fishing of sharks for their fins and thwart the practice of throwing their bodies back into the sea. The regulation states that sharks must be brought fully into the port. It also aims to prevent the trading of live sharks caught in fishing waters of the UAE unless a special permit has been issued by the ministry.
It prevents hunting species stated in the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), which also states that these species must be released back into the sea when they are caught in the fishing equipment.
The resolution allows fishermen who are running boats with lynch, a tool with several hooks at the end of its edges, to catch sharks every first of July of each year until the end of January of the following year using hooks as long as they do not exceed 100 hooks per lynch. The hooks should be curved, should not be larger than 0/14, and should be biodegradable. The boat should also carry the kit and include the fishing boat number and the logo symbol of the emirate.
In cases of importation of shark species enumerated in CITES, such as the great hammerhead, scalloped bonnet head, swordfish, carcharinus longimanus, manta rays, great white shark, basking shark, sphyrna as what is also mention that an export or re-export certificate from the administrative authority in the exporting country and an import valid certificate issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water must be secured. Companies are not permitted to export sharks caught in the fishing waters of the UAE - whether fresh, frozen, dried or salted, smoked or canned, or any other form, - throughout the year.
The import of sharks - fresh, frozen, dried, salted, smoked or canned, or in any other form – is also allowed by the issued resolution. The shipments must be accompanied with the original certificate of source of origin related for each shipment, stating the scientific name and quantity of each type. It should also have the original health certificate, commercial invoice, and the packing list for each shipment.
The decision also allows the re-export of all imported sharks - fresh, frozen, dried or salted, smoked or canned, or in any other form, provided the permission is granted by the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water. The Ministry will grant permission only after receiving the certificate of origin of the shipment issued by a competent authority in the exporting country; customs declaration for the shipment issued in the port of entry; a certificate of authority to export food items issued by the competent local authority mentioning the scientific name and quantity of each type and a packing certificate issued by the manufacturer, licensed by the Ministry for processing of fish products detailing the quantity and quality of fish exported. In case of imported variations, the re-export facility is required to provide the purchase invoice documents in addition to all the documents related to the shipment.
In case of re-export of shark species in the annexes of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), additional documents such as the re-export certificate issued by the Ministry of Environment and Water for these shark species need to be submitted, in addition to prior authorisation of the importing country for re-export of same shark species in order to prevent the re-export of shark fins from the state.
As stated in the resolution, the health certificates for shipments of re-exported sharks in export outlet will be issued only after the Quarantine Inspector inspects the shipment and confirms the attached re-export permit of the Ministry of Environment and Water in addition to a Certificate of Origin of the shipment by the competent authorities. All the re-exported shipments undergo strict procedures of quarantine and regulation in order to control the international trade of animals and plants threatened with extinction in the State. – Emirates News Agency, WAM - http://www.wam.ae/en/news/general/1395268158834.html

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Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi advises farmers to use water efficiently


posted on 17/07/2014

For years now, the UAE has been the world's largest consumer of water, with 500 litres per person per day, which is 82 per cent more than the global average consumption.
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has come to the ongoing Liwa Dates Festival in the Western Region of the emirate to encourage farmers to become more efficient in water usage. Irrigation of date palm trees currently consumes about a third of the groundwater used by major crops.
"Dates are an integral part of our culture and are especially important during the holy month of Ramadan. However, most of Abu Dhabi's dates are nourished with groundwater, a dwindling resource,” said Mansoor Al Tamimi, groundwater scientist at EAD.
"We have come here to support the farmers who have already been affected by the negative impact of groundwater misuse. We are encouraging them to install and maintain efficient irrigation systems, obey the laws and report anyone who is involved in the sale of groundwater, which is illegal.”
For years now, the UAE has been the world's largest consumer of water, with 500 litres per person per day. This is 82 per cent more than the global average consumption.
Worldwide, water scarcity is becoming even a bigger threat than climate change. Peter Brabeck, chairman of Nestle, was recently quoted by international media as saying: "We are going to run out of water long before we run out of oil.”
At the Liwa Dates Festival, which will end on July 18, EAD is also raising awareness of how the illegal misuse of groundwater has already impacted and continues to impact the agriculture by depleting the water table and increasing the salinity of the remaining reserves. In parts of Abu Dhabi, levels are falling by up to five metres each year.
Since 2010, industries and governments have had to increasingly invest in water, be it in water treatment plants, desalination plants or just water pipelines. The global water market is now US$550 billion and growing by 3.5% every year.
Agriculture remains the biggest water consumer worldwide. – Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2014/July/nationgeneral_July87.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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EAD’s annual survey reveals increased environmental awareness


posted on 09/07/2014

The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi, EAD, has revealed the latest findings of its Environmental Awareness and Behaviour Survey, which found that the public's awareness and behaviour towards environmental issues has increased.
According to the survey, 68% of those surveyed reported pro-environment practices, compared to 55% in 2012. Within the construction industry, the overall level of awareness on environmental issues has drastically gone up from 24% in 2012 to 81% in 2013.
88% of respondents in construction expressed concern about waste management issues in their sector, as opposed to only 45% in 2012. On air quality issues, 90% of those surveyed in 2013 reported that they understood that enhancing air quality was a priority, compared to only 7% in 2012.
Nearly 2,000 people, representing a diverse range of nationalities, ages and industries in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, took part in the annual survey, which was conducted in late 2013.
When it comes to the industrial sector, and the Ready Mix sector in particular, EAD's industrial compliance campaign, Eltezam, helped raise awareness about the importance of limiting the amount of particulate matter released from their facilities, as well as ensuring compliance with regulations pertaining to the release of PM into the atmosphere. The survey revealed that feedback surrounding the campaign was very positive and the follow-up rounds of inspections by EAD resulted in a 46% improvement in compliance. The survey revealed an interesting trend: the willingness of Ready Mix facilities to comply with environmental permit conditions directly correlates with their level of awareness.
Fozeya Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Director of Environmental Outreach at EAD, said, "The Environmental Awareness and Behaviour Survey findings have for years helped inform EAD's outreach focus for the coming year. Consistently measuring and analysing awareness levels and the behaviour of Abu Dhabi's community helps us to better understand what motivates people. EAD continues to raise public awareness around critical environmental issues through the careful planning and execution of creative and innovative awareness campaigns." The survey also revealed that 63% of those working in hotels, hospitals, retail, and the private sector have reported an understanding of different environmental issues, with 62% of these respondents indicating that their organisations were taking action on environmental issues relevant to their industry.
However, water conservation practices within the community did not witness a significant change in 2013. An average of 52% of the respondents in 2013, compared to 46% in 2012, reported carrying out environmentally-friendly practices, such as turning off their taps when not in use and using less water when performing daily actions such as brushing teeth or performing ablutions before prayer.
The issue of waste management emerged as one of the most central issues in the survey, with 61% indicating that they understood that waste management is a priority issue for the government.
Out of all of those surveyed, youths aged 15-20 years demonstrated the highest levels of awareness of waste management as an environmental concern in the emirate. Survey results also showed that the young within that age group actively searched for alternatives and efficient solutions to lessen their impact on the environment. For example, the 2013 results revealed that 73% of youths opted to carpool with friends or family, while in 2012 only 55% had considered that option. Switching off lights and air conditioning when not in use was another popular habit amongst them, with 83% stating they did so in 2013. – Emirates News Agency, WAM – Read more:
http://www.wam.ae/en/news/emirates/1395267533786.html

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U.A.E. Environment and Water Minister attends UNEA session in Nairobi


posted on 28/06/2014

NAIROBI: U.A.E. Environment and Water Minister, Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahd, has chaired the U.A.E. delegation in the first session of The United Nations Environment Assembly (UNEA) in Nairobi, which runs from 23 to 27 June. The event draws 1,200 participants,100 ministers, and heads of international organisations.
The session, which will conclude today, focused on the objectives of sustainable development and development plans after 2015, including sustainable consumption and production.
The main theme of the Ministerial Plenary is how the environment is reflected in the global Sustainable Development Goals. The meetings will result in a strong proclamation that sends a powerful message on the importance of the environmental dimension of sustainable development to the UN s high-level political forum, and the UN General Assembly. In addition, the Ministers will discuss, among others, the illegal trade in wildlife.
Bin Fahd reviewed in an interactive session on the global Sustainable Development Goals, the social, economic and environmental benefits through encouraging green investments and activities in areas of renewable energy, efficient use of energy, restoration of ecological systems, waste management and environmental innovations.
He demonstrated the multi-studies conducted by the U.A.E. in line with the implementation of U.A.E. Green Development Strategy, noting that the U.A.E. adopted the green economy method, and specified six tracks covering all aspects of life. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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MoEW updates National Strategy to Combat Desertification 2014-2021


posted on 16/06/2014

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, has announced the completion of the project to update the National Strategy to Combat Desertification 2014 2021.
In a statement released to mark "World Day to Combat Desertification," on June 17th, the Minister said that in line with the U.A.E. s Vision 2021 and strategy to combat desertification, the U.A.E. is committed to protecting the natural environment using preventive measures such as reducing carbon emissions and imposing regulatory measures to protect the ecosystem.
The strategy aims to increase awareness of issues related to desertification, land degradation and drought, and strengthen the national capacity in the fight against desertification.
Such approaches will be used to counteract dangers that arise from the outcome of human activities, poor land management and increasing population, which are having a negative impact on the ecosystem.
The Minister said that desertification is not just a national concern but a global problem which is directly affecting the lives of millions of people and is impacting the world's water and food resources.
According to reports from the United Nations Convention to Combat Desertification, 24 billion tons of fertile soil disappear and about 12 billion hectares of land are lost annually due to desertification and drought, in addition to the 52 percent of agricultural land which faces moderate to severe deterioration.
Dr. bin Fahad said that the U.A.E. is working to develop a national strategy to protect its water resources and reduce groundwater depletion through the implementation of agricultural policies that enforce efficient water management practices.
One of the U.A.E. s more recent efforts in the fight against desertification is the focus on using modern techniques and relevant scientific research to protect native plants and encourage bio-diversity.
Last month, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, issued a Decree establishing six nature reserves in Dubai, a legislation which aims to protect natural habitats and wildlife in the Emirate of Dubai and preserve natural resources in these areas. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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EAD launches pilot phase of its Sustainable Campus Initiative across Abu Dhabi universities


posted on 04/06/2014

The Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi (EAD), in partnership with Borouge, have launched the pilot phase of the Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI), an extension of former's award-winning environmental education programme, the Sustainable Schools Initiative (SSI).
The Initiative encourages university students in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to take responsibility for their campus s ecological footprint. EAD will do this by teaching the students how to lead, how to measure and assess their campus s environmental footprint, and how to develop an action plan to reduce it.
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, commented, "The SCI was immensely successful and students across the U.A.E. showed great interest and passion in protecting the environment. We are proud to build on this achievement with the Sustainable Campus Initiative, which will further empower students to make positive environmental impacts and advocate for a sustainable future." During the pilot phase of the initiative, EAD will continue to work closely with around 25 students from four university campuses in Abu Dhabi: Zayed University; Higher Colleges of Technology Women s College in Khalifa City; Higher Colleges of Technology Men s College in Madinat Zayed; and Higher Colleges of Technology Women s College in Ruwais.
"Borouge is pleased to support the Sustainable Campus Initiative with the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi," said Abdulaziz Alhajri, CEO of Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge). "This exciting initiative is in line with our commitment to sustainability and social responsibility, and provides Borouge with a unique opportunity to interact and encourage university students to manage their carbon footprint and enhance their awareness and involvement in various environmental issues, so that today, and in their future careers, they may contribute to the sustainable advancement of the U.A.E. and support Abu Dhabi s Environment Vision 2030." Once the pilot phase is completed in November 2014, EAD plans to invite more universities in Abu Dhabi to participate and an exclusive online Green Youth Majlis will be set up for the youth to network and exchange ideas with other students from around the world. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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U.A.E. hosts regional workshop on Nagoya Protocol


posted on 02/06/2014

The Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW) on Sunday hosted 'The Regional Workshop of Capacity Building for Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit Sharing', in collaboration with the Secretariat of Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), at City Seasons Suites Dubai.
Hosting this workshop comes in line with MoEW strategic objectives to promote environmental sustainability though the development of initiatives, legislations and regulations to manage and protect ecosystems. Furthermore, this workshop which is part of CBD's framework to conduct a series of sub-regional workshops aims to achieve the 3rd objective of the Convention on Biodiversity goal for a fair and equitable benefit sharing from the utilisation of genetic resources.
Representatives from the United Nation Environment Program (UNEP) and member of the convention from the Middle East North Africa (MENA) Region attended the first day of the 5-day workshop which is aimed at to raising awareness on the provisions of the Nagoya Protocol. It is also aimed at encouraging the exchange of expertise among countries in regards to the administrative procedures and legislations for the development of plans and programmes relevant to the countries' biodiversity strategies and policies.
Local and federal authorities, academic institutions and research establishments were present at the workshop including Ministry of Health and the International Centre for Agricultural Research in the Dry Areas.
"U.A.E. hosted the workshop as part of its support for capacity building efforts for countries within the region and to fill its obligations to the "Convention on Biological Diversity," said Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, in a speech read out by Sultan Alwan, Assistant Undersecretary for Water Resources and Nature Conservation In the speech, Alwan focused on the importance of U.A.E.'s genetic resources, which include a wide range of plants, animals and micro-organisms that are the source of life on Earth, which makes it a key pillar in the economy growth and the prosperity of countries.
He also stated that "Despite the dominant desert climate, the U.A.E. is rich in the Genetic Diversity, which makes our Government keen on supporting the ongoing efforts to preserve and develop the biodiversity systems. The Nagoya Protocol workshop aims to enhance the legal framework and maintain this diversity and it also aims to develop plans and programs that will achieve the three objectives of CBD." Genetic resources are of multiple benefits they are considered a sources of life, nourishment and medication, they are pivotal contributors to the stability of climate and provide raw materials for industrial and agricultural sectors and also contribute to the tourism sector, which makes this resources crucial for the economic development for the countries and their people. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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Dubai Municipality opens exhibition to display re-purposed car-parts


posted on 29/05/2014

Dubai Municipality Transport Department opened an exhibition for recycled car parts at its headquarters yesterday, an initiative which aims to raise social awareness on environmental protection by presenting ideas on how to turn car-parts into new products.
The exhibition, which was inaugurated by Hussain Nasser Lootah, Director-General of Dubai Municipality, displays a collection of used car-parts which have been re-purposed to form new products and designs, like watches built from small vehicle parts and chairs and tables constructed from tyres.
Hamid Al Marri, Director of the Transportation Department at Dubai Municipality, said that the initiative demonstrates the department's commitment to raising public awareness of the environment and find ways to encourage society's active involvement in environmentally friendly practices. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Minister of Environment and Water praises UAE leadership's interest in biodiversity


posted on 22/05/2014

Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, on Wednesday praised the huge interest of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan and Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and Their Highnesses, Supreme Council Members and Rulers of the Emirates, in preserving biodiversity in UAE.
"The commitment of UAE to protect, sustain and nurture biodiversity is a pillar of our environmental policy. Through this commitment, UAE has made a number of significant achievements including regulations aimed at preserving biodiversity, expanding marine and wildlife reserves, national programmes and plans for protecting and breeding endangered species for the eventual release to their habitat, in addition to plans for protecting fragile habitats from urban expansion in accordance with UAE. Vision 2021," said Minister Fahad, in a press release on the occasion of the International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB), celebrated worldwide on 22nd May, this year under the theme "Island Biodiversity." According to Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD), Islands and their surrounding near-shore marine areas constitute unique ecosystems often comprising many plant and animal species that are endemic found nowhere else on Earth. The legacy of a unique evolutionary history these ecosystems are irreplaceable treasures. They are also key to the livelihood, economy, well-being and cultural identity of 600 million islanders one-tenth of the world's population.
UAE which is party to the CBD since 2000 has officially designated 22 nature reserve (bioreserves) so far, in addition to a number of protected areas which have not been officially declared as reserves, according to Minister Fahad.
The theme Island Biodiversity was chosen this year to coincide with the designation by the United Nations General Assembly of 2014 as the International Year of Small Island Developing States. In addition, the theme was chosen to correspond with the timing of COP decision XI/15 paragraph 1(a) "to strengthen the implementation of the Programme of Work on Island Biodiversity".
CBD entered into force on 29th December 1993 and has 3 main objectives: The conservation of biological diversity, the sustainable use of the components of biological diversity, and the fair and equitable sharing of the benefits arising out of the utilisation of genetic resources.
The United Nations has proclaimed May 22 The International Day for Biological Diversity (IDB) to increase understanding and awareness of biodiversity issues. When first created by the Second Committee of the UN General Assembly in late 1993, 29 December (the date of entry into force of the Convention of Biological Diversity), was designated The International Day for Biological Diversity. In December 2000, the UN General Assembly adopted 22 May as IDB, to commemorate the adoption of the text of the Convention on 22 May 1992 by the Nairobi Final Act of the Conference for the Adoption of the Agreed Text of the Convention on Biological Diversity. This was partly done because it was difficult for many countries to plan and carry out suitable celebrations for the date of 29 December, given the number of holidays that coincide around that time of year. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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150 vehicles go green in Abu Dhabi


posted on 14/05/2014

In August last year, the civic body fitted 25 of its cars with compressed natural gas (CNG) kits, which are now running on the streets of Abu Dhabi.
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality has added 150 natural gas-powered vehicles to its fleet.
In August last year, the civic body fitted 25 of its cars with compressed natural gas (CNG) kits, which are now running on the streets of Abu Dhabi.
"A large number of these vehicles have actually been fitted and a large portion of them have been deployed in service as of April 20. By May 18, all of them will be up and running,” said Othman Mohammed Sharif Fulathi, Director of Facilities and Security at Abu Dhabi City Municipality.
"Like other vehicles ... of Abu Dhabi City Municipality, these vehicles are fitted with a GPS tracking system as well to track their movement with a view to reduce consumption and ensure the optimal use of vehicles.”
Compressed natural gas (CNG )cars are considered "greener” as they produce fewer emissions than traditional gasoline-based vehicles.
Natural gas fuel has been around since the 1930s, but it is only in the past decade that it has been considered as a serious alternative to gasoline, partly due to growing concerns of climate change.
Technological advancement and greater engine efficiency has also helped in CNG being recognised as a good alternative.
In the UAE, CNG stations were first established in 2011 by the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (Adnoc). By 2015, the UAE is slated to have 20 Natural Gas Vehicles (NGV) filling stations — 16 in Abu Dhabi and four in other emirates — as well as nine vehicle conversion workshops.
Apart from the occasional taxi, CNG filling pumps remain unused most of the time. Although the initial plan was to have most of Abu Dhabi's official vehicles converted to CNG, only a fraction have done so.
There are close to 8,000 taxis in Abu Dhabi, but only a quarter of them have been fitted with CNG kits. Most drivers are either unaware of the benefits of CNG or are put off by the cost — a CNG conversion kit costs about Dh12,000. Once installed, the driver has the option to use either CNG or petrol at the flip of a switch.
According to Adnoc, CNG makes economic sense, especially for cars covering high mileage such as taxis and couriers. For such vehicles, fuel costs can be reduced by 30 per cent and its owners can recover their initial installation costs within 18 months. –
Khaleej Times – Read more: http://www.khaleejtimes.com/nation/inside.asp?xfile=/data/nationgeneral/2014/May/nationgeneral_May108.xml§ion=nationgeneral

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New species added to the global list of invertebrates after discovery on Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba Wetland Reserve


posted on 13/05/2014

A new species has been added to the global list of invertebrates after it was unexpectedly discovered on Abu Dhabi's Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, during regular seasonal wildlife trapping carried out by researchers at the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD). The metallic-coloured Cuckoo Wasp (Hedychridium anithaae) measures just under 4 mms and has now been added to the list of hundreds of invertebrates already recorded on the reserve.
"This discovery further enhances Al Wathba Wetland Reserve's status as a biodiversity hotspot that must remain protected. The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi is proud of this discovery and will continue to ensure the effective management and monitoring of species, water quality and vegetation on the reserve," said Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD.
The species has been named Hedychridium anithaae, in honour of the scientist that discovered it, Dr. Anita Saji, Assistant Scientist at EAD.
Dr. Saji, who led the team and made the discovery, said: "This discovery indicates how much remains both unknown and unexplored from Abu Dhabi's biodiversity. To have this species named after me is a big honour and we are already preparing for further study of its biology," said Dr. Saji.
The Al Wathba Wetland Reserve (45 minutes away from Abu Dhabi and covers a total area of 5 km?) was declared a protected area by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in 1998. Sheikh Zayed's vision was to provide a suitable habitat for migratory birds and a breeding area for the Greater flamingo. The reserve has been managed by EAD ever since.
As a result of its ‘protected' status, Al Wathba has since become a safe breeding haven for the Greater Flamingo, which bred successfully for the first time on the reserve in 1998. Today, the reserve supports a rich variety of wildlife including 238 species of invertebrates, 11 mammals, 10 reptiles and more than 250 species of birds. The reserve is also rich in plant species, with 37 species having been documented.
In 2013, Al Wathba Wetland Reserve was recognised internationally and declared as a Ramsar site, the first in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. With this recognition, this site joins a prestigious list of over 2,000 other internationally recognised wetlands around the world. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Abu Dhabi City Municipality beefs up fleet by 150 CNG-powered vehicles


posted on 11/05/2014

The Abu Dhabi City Municipality has added 150 natural gas-powered vehicles to its environment-friendly fleet as part of its strategic plan aimed conserving the environment, using clean energy sources, and measuring up to the international standards and requirements of sustainability. Othman Mohammed Sharif Fulathi, Director of Facilities and Security, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, said: "The new vehicles, powered by compressed natural gas (CNG), have been fitted with this technology in cooperation with the rental company (Lease Plan) specialised in fleet management solutions, under the supervision of ADNOC company. A large number of these vehicles have actually been fitted and a large portion of them have been deployed in service as of 20 April, and by 18 May, all of them will be up and running.
On August 1, 2013, the Municipality deployed 25 environment-friendly CNG-powered vehicles to its vehicles and plants fleet. A clearly defined plan has been mapped out for uplifting the number of environment-friendly vehicles in a record manner. The Municipality will continue with this improvement project till achieving advanced levels of using eco-friendly fuels.
"This initiative, rolled out by the Facilities and Security Division, Abu Dhabi City Municipality in the context of the Municipality's policy and endeavours to live up to the international environmental standards (ISO 14001, and ISO 50001), and fits well with the drive of Abu Dhabi Government to conserve the environment and achieve sustainable development as this project contributes to minimising the carbon footprint, and raising environmental awareness of the community.
"Likewise other vehicles and plants operating in the fleet of Abu Dhabi City Municipality, these vehicles are fitted with a GPS tracking system to track the vehicle's movement with a view to reducing consumption and ensuring the optimal use of vehicles. The plan also envisages holding awareness workshop about environment-friendly vehicles targeting employees and users of these vehicles in a bid to elucidate the government policy and drive in this field, besides familiarising them with the eco-friendly vehicles in general and natural gas-powered vehicles in particular." "The Facilities and Security Division manages other environment-friendly contracts represented in operating 10 golf cards and four forklifts, all powered by electricity,' he said. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UAE energises climate change debate


posted on 08/05/2014

A UAE paper has said that climate change is an issue that affects every single life on the planet. With the negative impact of global warming overwhelmingly evident, world leaders should take seriously UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-Moon's warning at the Abu Dhabi Ascent meeting that too many stakeholders are still "sitting on the fence."
"It is a matter of great honour for the UAE that over 1,000 participants, including 100 government ministers, gathered in Abu Dhabi for the event, to chart new routes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening climate resilience," said Gulf Today in its editorial on Wednesday.
The two-day "Abu Dhabi Ascent" was co-hosted by the UAE to build commitment ahead of the UN Climate Summit, set for Sept.23 in New York.
Ascent is the first international meeting to draw on the conclusions of the reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change, which found its consequences are already being felt. While the present action is insufficient, there are still pathways towards a low carbon future that could minimise climate change impacts.
The UAE leadership has consistently believed in the adoption of renewable energy and clean technologies as a way to mitigate the problem. The progress made has been so impressive that the UAE is the only OPEC nation supplying both hydrocarbons and renewable energy to the international market.
The Shams 1 solar power plant offers a perfect example of how renewable resources can help power an overhaul of the world's energy supply. Shams 1 is the largest solar power facility in the Middle East and the second largest in the world. The 100-megawatt plant, which can provide electricity for 20,000 households, is just over a year old, and is deemed a commercial success.
So impressed was the UN chief with the efforts that he repeatedly commended the vision of the UAE leadership towards sustainable development, noting that the landmark projects reflect the leadership's far-sighted vision towards diversification of sources of national income, conservation of local environment and sincere efforts to provide development aid to a number of countries in the area of renewable energy.
The paper concluded by quoting the United Nations chief as saying that, "By harnessing the power of the Sun, the UAE is cutting greenhouse gas emissions, generating jobs and laying the foundation for low-carbon economic progress." This lucidly sums up the effective path that the country has taken towards generating clean energy. In the process, the UAE also serves as a role model for the entire world in this field. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Mohamed bin Zayed receives top delegates to the high-level climate change meeting


posted on 06/05/2014

His Highness General Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, yesterday received at Al Bahr Palace a high-profile delegation of government, business and civil society leaders, who participated in the "Abu Dhabi Ascent 2014", a two-day high-level climate change meeting hosted by the UAE in partnership with the UN.
The delegation, who were accompanied by Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Sultan Al Jaber, Minister of State and CEO of Masdar, and Lana Nusseibeh, Permanent Representative of the United Arab Emirates to the United Nations, included United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon, former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, and Chair of the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate, former US Vice President Al Gore, UN Assistant Secretary General for Strategic Planning Robert Orr, among others.
Sheikh Mohamed welcomed the participants at the important UN meeting to the UAE, noting that the UAE places engagement in and contribution to international efforts to combat environmental degradation and mitigate impacts of climate change at the top of its priorities.
Before participating in these efforts, Sheikh Mohamed said the UAE had devised development plans which cater to environmental requirements and set up projects and developed solutions in areas of clean technology and renewable energy.
The Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi expressed the hope that all countries and corporations would join hands to overcome challenges facing the environment and climate and take together through joint action a series of tangible and effective measures through which the world can reduce impact of climate change and ensure security of resources of energy, water and food.
A number of guests spoke about the vital importance of international cooperation in climate change and setting of legal and legislative frameworks for reducing negative impacts on the environment and climate. They also noted to the UAE's local and international initiatives, efforts and projects in this respect.
The meeting was attended by H.H. Sheikh Rashid bin Saud bin Rashid Al Mu'alla, Crown Prince of Umm Al Qaiwain, H.H. Sheikh Mohammed bin Saud bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Crown Prince of Ras al-Khaimah, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in the Western Region, H.H. Sheikh Nahyan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, H.H. Lt. General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of the Interior, H.H. Sheikh Omar bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan Charitable and Humanitarian Foundation, Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, Sheikh Hamdan bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, and a number of Sheikhs, ministers and senior officials. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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'The race is on, it's time to lead', UN chief tells Abu Dhabi climate change event


posted on 05/05/2014

From the tropics to the poles, from small islands to large continents, and from the poorest countries to the richest, climate change impacts are already widespread, costly and consequential, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon said yesterday, urging stakeholders gathered in Abu Dhabi to consider concrete actions to tackle the phenomenon now - before it is too late.
"Climate change is the defining issue of our time. If we do not take urgent action, all our plans for increased global prosperity and security will be undone," said the UN chief in opening remarks to the "Abu Dhabi Ascent", which he is co-hosting with the United Arab Emirates Government to prepare for and build commitment ahead of his Climate Summit, set for 23 September in New York.
More than 1,000 participants, including 100 Government ministers, have gathered in Abu Dhabi for the two-day event to chart new routes for reducing greenhouse gas emissions and strengthening climate resilience. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of State and Special Envoy for Energy and Climate Change, and John Ashe, President of the UN General Assembly, have also delivered remarks to the opening session.
The "Ascent" is the first international meeting to draw on the conclusions of the recently issued reports from the UN Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC), which found the consequences of climate change are already being felt, and that while present action is insufficient, there are still pathways towards a low carbon future that could minimise the phenomenon's impacts. Action now, said the report, is necessary in order to avoid much higher costs in the future.
Thanking the UAE Government for being pioneers on the journey to a low-carbon future, Mr Ban said: "It is the future we need and we have to lay the foundations today. We have little time to lose." "That is why it is important that Governments complete a meaningful new climate agreement by 2015 that will rapidly reduce emissions and support resilience," He continued, explaining that the upcoming New York summit is designed to shape a collective ambitious vision rooted in concrete action.
"I am inviting Heads of State and Government, along with mayors and senior representatives from business, finance and civil society, to join a 'race to the top,'" said the Secretary-General, adding that he was also asking the participants to announce bold commitments and actions that will catalyse transformative change.
The UN chief said that his summit will focus on solutions. It will provide a high visibility platform for those who are ready to lead so they can invite others to follow.
"Our meeting here in Abu Dhabi is a major milestone on the ascent to the Summit. It gives you a chance to experience the wealth of opportunity that exists so you can leave here ready to join others in acting." Mr Ban went on to set out the nine key areas he has identified with the greatest potential for fast, meaningful results. They include energy, cities and transport, finance, resilience, agriculture and short-lived climate pollutants.
He said that many of the solutions we need already exist. Many others are being rapidly developed.
"But we need to deploy them at a scale that matches the challenge. And we need to do it now, because we may not get a second chance," he warned, adding that "we are rapidly approaching dangerous thresholds. The longer we delay, the more we will pay." He said that Governments have promised new climate agreement next year in Paris. But the Abu Dhabi Ascent could help by proving that climate action now means opening a world of opportunity.
The benefits of addressing climate change include reduced pollution, improved public health, fewer disasters, less poverty, cleaner, more efficient and affordable energy, better managed forests, liveable cities and increased food security, said the Secretary-General.
"This meeting is about that future. Over the next two days, you will share what you are doing and planning. You will forge new and broader partnerships. And you will return home with an important message for your political leaders, business and finance networks, consumers and voters," said Mr Ban.
"That message is clear and simple - climate action is feasible, affordable and beneficial. Change is in the air. Solutions exist. The race is on. It's time to lead," he declared.
Later at a press conference, the UN chief hailed the "Ascent" as an opportunity to demonstrate that people are ready to work together for a low carbon future. "I am asking all participants - including you, the media - to leave here inspired to urge leaders to act," he told reporters.
He again called for "bold vision" and announcements of action that can make a difference, saying that is how political will would be mobilised for a meaningful global climate agreement in 2015.
"Our motto must be adopt and adapt. Adopt what works and adapt it for your nation, your business, your community," the Secretary-General said, warning that "time is against us. Nature will not wait. The planet is sending us a message. We must listen." – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Abdullah bin Zayed highlights the need to consolidate efforts to address challenges of climate change


posted on 05/05/2014

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, has highlighted the need to consolidate efforts and work as a team to address the challenges of climate change.
In his speech during the High-Level Meeting on Climate Change "Abu Dhabi Ascent", which began yesterday in the Al Etihad Towers in Abu Dhabi, Sheikh Abdullah stressed the UAE's firm belief in the importance of teamwork and multilateral initiatives, "as no country can work by itself to face the repercussions of climate change".
Following is Sheikh Abdullah's speech in full:
"May ALLAH's Peace, Mercy and Blessings be upon you, His Excellency Ban Ki-moon, Secretary-General of the United Nations, Ladies and Gentlemen, Almost forty years ago, when our fathers founded this country, Abu Dhabi was at the beginning of its existence, and through only two generations, and with relentless determination of our wise leadership, we have been able to build a modern and developed state which emerged from the heart of the desert environment and harsh conditions.
This outstanding achievement was accomplished thanks to the three principles, beacons directing our journey through our history. These principles interpreted our meeting today in the UAE.
The first principle represents our great interest in human beings, because this is our real wealth and capital, which is not being implemented.
The second principle represents a policy of openness to the world, and engaging in regional contractive regional and international construction. This policy is a continuation of our history as a major hub for trade and a point of contact and communication on regional and international levels.
The third principle represents that our country is based on well-established principles that never lose constants, and insight related to the clear vision for the long term. The changes and variables in the world around us never stop, but we remain holding on to our principles and values.
Adhering to these principles is what we need to do to face this great challenge represented in the climate change phenomenon. Facing this problem and the implications of this phenomenon means we need to build positions, convictions and international platforms.
We live in an interconnected world and what can affect one country will necessarily affect another. In the same sense, the UAE firmly believes in the importance of teamwork and multilateral initiatives, as no country can work by itself to face the repercussions of climate change. But together, we will have the ability to achieve successful and concrete steps to address these consequences.
In the UAE, we have focused our efforts to ensure the well-being, happiness, the growth and prosperity of our people in the long run.
This vision explains our involvement in local, regional and international investments focused in creating solutions and projects, that contribute towards the eradication of world climate changes. And we are proud that our efforts encouraged the rest of the countries in the region to invest in clean energy projects.
Another national goal is to extract 24% of electricity from sources that are completely free from carbon emissions by 2021.
We have achieved great developments in the field of solar energy through Masdar, which includes the Shams 1 solar power station with 100 megawatts of power. As well as operating Phase One of the His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Power Compound project which will generate 1,000 megawatts when complete.
We are working to build the infrastructure which will support solar power system usage.
I also want to mention our smart investments in the education field, research and development in technology, which is also run by Masdar.
What distinguishes our international vision, is that it incorporates and reaches out to support international initiatives. We have fulfilled our commitment to providing half a billion dollars in aid to facilitate the implementation of renewable energy projects in developing countries. The UAE is also a leading investor in renewable energy trade. We are also proud to be the host country for the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) permanent offices.
The cooperation between the United Arab Emirates and the United Nations is close, long-standing and constructive, and this meeting is a fruit of this cooperation. We are pleased to offer thanks to the Secretary-General, Mr Ban Ki-moon, for his sincere and great efforts for the success of this conference, and we also thank the team working with him for their efforts and cooperation.
I would like at the end of my talk to emphasise the need to consolidate our efforts and work with the spirit of one team so that we can address the challenges of climate change.
Finally, I wish you a pleasant stay in Abu Dhabi, which always welcomes you, and I wish you every success in your deliberations and your discussions. I am confident that your efforts will contribute to the success of the Climate Summit, which will be held in September."
Over 75 cabinet-level government ministers will participate in the current meeting, which plays a pivotal role in mobilising action in advance of the Climate Summit, to be hosted by Ban Ki-moon, at the UN, in September. The Abu Dhabi meeting is designed to build momentum for the Climate Summit, which aims to catalyse transformative action and build political impetus in advance of the 2015 UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Paris, where a global, binding climate agreement will be finalised. – Emirates News Agency,

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Gore optimistic about limiting climate change


posted on 05/05/2014

The heat energy trapped by carbon emissions and pollutants across the globe every day is equal to exploding 400,000 nuclear bombs similar to the one dropped in Hiroshima during the Second World War, Al Gore, former US vice-president and chairman of the Climate Reality Project, said at the Abu Dhabi Ascent summit on Sunday.
Speaking at the opening session of the two-day high-level meeting attended by leaders from government, business and civil society across the world, Gore said that within six years, more than 80 per cent of the world population will have access to photovoltaic electricity at rates equal to or cheaper than the grid average price. "The solutions [to reverse and limit climate change] are [therefore] coming along much faster than we expected. There was a projection 12 years ago that the world would have 1 gigawatt of photovoltaic energy per year by 2010. When 2010 came around, we [had] exceeded this potential by 17 times. This year, we will exceed it by 54 times,” he added.
The Abu Dhabi Ascent summit is being held ahead of the UN Climate Summit in September, which will seek to build political momentum so that a legal climate agreement can be reached at the UN Climate Change Conference (COP21) in Paris in December 2015.
Although the energy sector contributes 60 per cent of global carbon emissions, clean energy is developing fast across the world and helping the fight against climate change. Solar photovoltaic energy today generates electricity at the same or lower cost compared to power grids in 79 countries (grid parity), Gore said.
Drawing attention to devastating weather events caused by global warming, Gore pointed out that 90 million tonnes of heat-trapping pollutants are released into the air every 24 hours. As a result, last month (April) was the 350th month in a row when temperatures were consistently higher than the 20th century average.
"Extreme weather events [such as floods, typhoons, droughts, etc.] are a signal from Mother Nature that the world has a fever. So we must stop using the atmosphere as an open sewer,” he added.
Gore was, however, optimistic that the required changes would come about quicker than projected, saying that "political will itself is a renewable resource”.
Drawing the similarities between cell phone use and renewable energy growth, he narrated how a 1980 study telecommunication firm AT&T had indicated that they could sell 1 million cell phones by 2000. By 2000 however, 119 million cell phones were sold.
The reason why projections differ greatly from reality when it comes to the growth of technologies, whether for phones or renewable energies, is because the cost of these technologies drops much quicker than anticipated and quality continues to improve.
"We are seeing the cost [of renewable energies drop] an average of 15 per cent every single year,” the former US Vice President said.
Moreover developing countries without the existing structures for conventional energies "leapfrog” in disseminating new energy sources.
"A lot of developing countries don't have very good electricity structures. So new business models and financial arrangements are emerging,” he added.
As huge initial investments on mobile phone networks improved the life of millions in developing countries, the same strategy can promote renewable energy for a clean environment and better living standards, Adnan Z Ameen, Director-General of Abu Dhabi-based International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena), had said earlier.
A farmer in Kenya uses his mobile phone to know the market prices of his crop and transfer money to somebody living faraway, he said in interview with Gulf News in 2012.
Penetration of mobile telephones has transformed the lives of so many. Renewable energy projects have mostly one-time initial investment with less maintenance or operational costs. But like the mobile phone networks, renewable energy projects can also help the vast majority of the population, Ameen had said. . – Gulf News – Read more: http://gulfnews.com/news/gulf/uae/environment/gore-optimistic-about-limiting-climate-change-1.1328073

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Energy Ministry announces submission of Abu Dhabi's bid file to host World Energy Congress 2019


posted on 05/05/2014

The UAE Ministry of Energy announced in a press conference yesterday the submission of UAE's bid file to host the World Energy Congress (WEC) of 2019 in its 24th version. The Conference is a platform for discussing energy challenges bringing together the largest elite group of experts, decision-makers and key players in the global energy sector worldwide. Voting for the hosting country is due to take place in Colombia during October 2014.
In the event Abu Dhabi wins the bid to host the Congress, it would mark the first time the conference is held in an OPEC (Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries) member state since it was first held 90 years ago. The UAE is considered to be the only OPEC member exporting hydrocarbon resources while contributing to the promotion and development of investment in renewable energy markets locally and globally. To win the bid to host WEC 2019, the UAE relies on its experience and prestige as a pioneer in the various fields of conventional and renewable energy and looks forwards to allowing participants and members to seize investment opportunities in the market and creating a platform for exchange of information and expertise in various energy fields.
It has also been announced that preparations have commenced to issue the ‘State of Energy Report in the UAE 2015' in collaboration with the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE) and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP). The preparation of this report comes in line with UAE's energy strategy and for highlighting the best practices and success stories of national activities in the process of developing the energy sector, renewable energy contribution in the UAE's energy diversification policy, energy efficiency criteria as well as the consolidation of efforts to achieve clean, safe and sustainable energy as the main basis of promoting economic and social growth and development. The UAE is currently undertaking fast-paced efforts towards diversifying energy sources and seeks to achieve a proportion of clean energy of up to 24% of the overall energy in the UAE.
Dr Mattar Hamed Al Neyadi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Energy , revealed the Report plans and noted its strategic importance for the UAE during the transformation process which the UAE leads towards green economy and sustainable development, hence meeting the ambitious objectives of UAE's Agenda 2021. He added that the symbolism behind choosing the ‘Abu Dhabi Ascent' event to announce the commencement of preparation of the report aims at "presenting the Report in the context of the commitments expected of world leaders by taking tangible steps to tackle climate change issues".
The energy report of 2015 will also focus on the importance of steps taken by the UAE in the context of its efforts aimed at defining the features of renewable energy and reducing the effects of climate change as part of the international sustainability efforts. Within the framework of efforts to create a future based on sustainability, the energy report seeks to become a printed reference of best practices and success stories in the field of sustainable energy in the UAE. The Minister concluded his address by inviting writers and experts to share their contributions for inclusion in the Report.
The press conference was also attended by Fatima Al Foora Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary for Electricity Affairs at the Ministry of Energy, MS, Helen Clark, administrator of UNDP, and Mr Sayed Agha, UNDP Resident Representative in the UAE, in addition to a gathering of global leaders, partners and bodies sponsoring the Report.
The State of Energy Report 2015 is due to be launched at the World Energy day on 22 October 2014. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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UN Secretary General joined by Al Gore, Tony Blair and Felipe Calderon at Abu Dhabi Ascent


posted on 04/05/2014

The United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon will be joined by former US Vice President Al Gore, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, at the "Abu Dhabi Ascent" - a high-level climate change meeting to be attended by government, business and civil society leaders.
Over 75 cabinet-level government ministers will participate in the meeting, which plays a pivotal role in mobilising action in advance of the Climate Summit, to be hosted by Ban Ki-moon, at the UN, in September.
The meeting, in Abu Dhabi, is designed to build momentum for the Climate Summit, which aims to catalyse transformative action and build political impetus in advance of the 2015 UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Paris, where a global, binding climate agreement will be finalised.
Felipe Calderon who chairs the Global Commission on the Economy and Climate said, "A major focus of Abu Dhabi Ascent will be on the economic benefits of action on climate change. Reducing emissions, while promoting economic and social development, is the challenge before us, because there is no alternative." "I'm so pleased to join the Secretary General, and leaders from around the world, in Abu Dhabi to discuss the bold leadership - and bold actions - that the climate crisis requires," said Al Gore, co-winner of the 2007 Nobel Peace Prize. "We face the most pressing challenge of our time, but we have the tools we need to solve it. Investing in an economy based on clean energy and sustainable capitalism is crucial to ensuring a prosperous and sustainable future." Goals of the Abu Dhabi Ascent include bringing world leaders together to advance an ambitious climate agenda for the September Climate Summit, at a time when climate change has once again emerged as one of the world's most pressing issues. As the UN's Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change reported earlier this month, greenhouse gas emissions worldwide have risen dramatically over the past decade, and need to be cut by a minimum of 40 percent, and as much as 70 percent, in order to limit the increase of the global average temperature to 2 degrees Celsius by mid-century.
"The Secretary-General's decision to schedule this important meeting in Abu Dhabi underscores the transformation already underway in the UAE and the role we are playing in addressing the global climate agenda," said Dr. Sultan Al Jaber, UAE minster of state and special envoy for energy and climate change. "While we have long been rich in hydrocarbons, we now export both conventional and renewable sources of energy worldwide. Accelerating the pace of renewable energy adoption is a critical strategy as we face the challenge of climate change, and this is one of many issues to be discussed during the Abu Dhabi Ascent." During this two-day meeting attendees will address action areas that offer significant impact in greenhouse gas emissions reduction while creating strategies for resilience. Issues to be discussed include those surrounding agriculture, cities, climate adaptation, climate finance, energy efficient technologies, forest management, renewable energy and transportation. The meeting will also evaluate international and multi-stakeholder efforts that can inspire action at the grass roots-level.
The selection of Abu Dhabi to host this meeting is reflective of the UAE's worldwide reputation as a progressive leader on energy diversification and climate change policies. The UAE's status as a global energy hub of expertise is behind the selection of Abu Dhabi as the permanent headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency, the first intergovernmental organisation located in the Middle East. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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Statement by H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the occasion of Abu Dhabi Ascent


posted on 04/05/2014

H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Foreign Minister, has affirmed that UAE's hosting of 'Abu Dhabi Ascent' meeting in Abu Dhabi tomorrow Sunday in preparation for a climate summit to be held for heads of state in New York, U.S.A. in September this year, is tribute to the central role UAE now plays in supporting practical actions to address climate change.
H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed, in a statement on the occasion of Abu Dhabi Ascent, said, "Our contribution is based on a combination of strong domestic action, international investment, and support for international cooperation." "In barely two generations we have built a modern nation in the desert. This remarkable achievement owes much to three principles that have guided us throughout our history." Describing the two-day Abu Dhabi Ascent as one of the most important meetings on climate change in many years, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed said the United Nations Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, will convene a gathering of around 100 ministers as well as thought-leaders such as former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US Vice-President Al Gore, to shape more ambitious actions on climate change.
Following is the full text of H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed's statement on the occasion of Abu Dhabi Ascent.
Over the next two days, UAE will host one of the most important meetings on climate change in many years. The United Nations Secretary General, Ban Ki-moon, will convene a gathering of around 100 ministers as well as thought-leaders such as former Mexican President Felipe Calderon, former UK Prime Minister Tony Blair and former US Vice-President Al Gore, to shape more ambitious actions on climate change.
This meeting, titled the "Abu Dhabi Ascent", is in preparation for a "Climate Summit" to be held for Heads of State in New York in September this year. The aim is to encourage more ambitious actions to reduce emissions and help vulnerable populations deal with the impacts of climate change.
The fact that this meeting is being held in the UAE is tribute to the central role we now play in supporting practical actions to address climate change. Our contribution is based on a combination of strong domestic action, international investment, and support for international cooperation.
I want to reflect on why our country has taken on such a role. In barely two generations we have built a modern nation in the desert. This remarkable achievement owes much to three principles that have guided us throughout our history.
The first is a profound appreciation for the natural world, and for the natural resources on which we all depend. Our founding father the late Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan said, "We cherish our environment because it is an integral part of our country, our history and our heritage. On land and in the sea, our forefathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so only because they recognised the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.
With God's will, we shall continue to work to protect our environment and our wildlife, as did our forefathers before us. It is a duty, and, if we fail, our children, rightly, will reproach us for squandering an essential part of their inheritance, and of our heritage." The UAE established the first conservation areas in the Middle East, and made respect for the natural world a core part of our values. Life in the desert makes a people acutely aware of the preciousness of water and food resources, and the importance of conserving them.
The second principle is openness and international cooperation. The UAE has long been a hub of regional and international trade, a meeting place for people from around the world. Today it is at the heart of the world economy. Domestically the UAE is a country famed for its cosmopolitan character, its religious and cultural tolerance, its championing of women's empowerment and its diverse international population.
For a country like the UAE which relies on trade for the great majority of our food supplies, climate change impacts elsewhere in the world are every bit as important as impacts felt in our region. If climate change disrupts agriculture in one country, food prices rise everywhere. We live in an interconnected world, where what impacts one country affects us all. Protecting agriculture and other important systems from climate change will be an important part of the discussions in Abu Dhabi. The UAE firmly believes in multilateralism. Alone, no country can address climate change. Together, we all can.
Finally, our country is built on the principle that we should never lose sight of the long term vision. The world continues to present new challenges, whether from political instability, war, natural disasters or financial crises. But while meeting these challenges we must keep an eye on the horizon, to ensure our long-term welfare.
This is why the UAE has invested at home and abroad in solutions to the climate challenge.
We have led the region in deploying clean energy, including four nuclear generators that are now under construction and the world's largest concentrating solar power plant, Shams 1, developed by Masdar and opened last year.
We are deploying energy saving infrastructure, from Dubai's world-class light rail system to a ban on traditional light bulbs.
We support the development of crops that can thrive in arid conditions and that use less fresh water.
And we are investing in the future, with world-class innovation centres such as Masdar, which is both a world-leading sustainable urban development and the home of the Masdar Institute, a postgraduate education and research centre for clean technologies.
But our global vision means that we are also supporting international action. We have committed nearly half a billion dollars in renewable energy aid for developing countries. We are a major investor in commercial renewable energy. And we are the proud host country for the International Renewable Energy Agency.
Increasingly, the UAE is the place where the world comes together to build practical solutions. Events such as the World Future Energy Summit, the International Water Summit, and the Zayed Future Energy Prize have placed us at the centre of global cooperation and debate. Our country is among the most active participants in international negotiations on climate change and sustainable development. – Emirates News Agency, WAM

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United Nations chief hails UAE efforts on climate change


posted on 30/04/2014

UN Secretary-General, Ban Ki-moon, has praised the UAE for its efforts in mitigating the effects of global climate change.
"The UAE is emerging as a leader of a diverse energy economy,” he added.
"I count on other countries to follow the UAE's example and to pursue the many untapped... opportunities to help control the global climate change. The longer we delay, the more we will pay — the sooner we act, the greater the benefits to people and the planet.”
The Secretary-General made these comments on the eve of announcing his participation in the Abu Dhabi Ascent meeting that will be held in Abu Dhabi from May 4-5, in preparation for the Climate Summit, which will be held later this year in New York.
"The Climate Summit is a critical opportunity to inspire and scale up the actions that will lead us towards a low-carbon, sustainable future,” said the Secretary-General. "The Abu Dhabi Ascent will play a pivotal role in mobilising action that will allow us to address climate change.”
The meeting in Abu Dhabi is designed to build momentum for the Climate Summit, which aims to catalyse transformative action and build political impetus ahead of the 2015 UNFCCC Climate Change Conference in Paris, where a global, binding climate agreement will be finalised.
"This is the decade of action,” said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and special envoy for energy and climate change. "And the world must work together to find solutions to mitigate the effects of climate change. The Abu Dhabi Ascent adds urgency and reinvigorates the need to address climate change and transition to a cleaner, more sustainable global energy mix.
"The meeting in Abu Dhabi underscores the role the UAE is playing as a true energy leader,” added Dr Al Jaber. "As a hydrocarbon-rich country, and a reliable exporter to international markets, we are leveraging our industry expertise to diversify the global energy mix. The acceleration and adoption of renewable energy and clean technologies is a key strategy for climate change mitigation. Today, the UAE is the only Organisation of the Petroleum Exporting Countries (Opec) nation supplying both hydrocarbons and renewable energy to the international market.”
The Abu Dhabi Ascent will explore areas for action that will have a high-impact in reducing emissions and building resilience, including adaptation, disaster risk reduction, agriculture, cities, climate finance, energy efficiency, forests, renewable energy, short-lived climate pollutants and transport. The meeting will also explore international and multi-stakeholder efforts that support ambitious on-the-ground actions.
The decision to host the Abu Dhabi Ascent underscores the reputation of the UAE as a forward-looking leader in driving global energy and climate change policy. The UAE's influence as a strategic energy hub is also why Abu Dhabi was selected as the permanent home of the International Renewable Energy Agency - the first intergovernmental organisation in the Middle East. – Emirates News Agency, WAM
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