UAE Sets Sights on Sustainability

The 16th annual Dubai Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition opened on April 14, showcasing sustainable companies and projects from ...

Apr 26, 2014

The 16th annual Dubai Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition opened on April 14, showcasing sustainable companies and projects from around the UAE and beyond. On April 15 and 16, Dubai hosted the first sustainable global summit in the Middle East and North Africa: the World Green Economy Summit. World leaders in the private and public sectors met to discuss collaborative ways to combat climate change and move to more sustainable practices. The theme “Global Partnerships, Sustainable Future” was reflected by an international array of speakers, including World Bank Treasurer Michael Bennett, Director of the Rio+ World Center for Sustainable Development, Dr. Rômulo Paes De Sousa and His Excellency Khaled Irani, former Jordanian Minister of Energy.
April 15 also marked the beginning of the second phase of construction on the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, a large solar initiative to be completed by 2017. This park will contribute to the energy diversification plans of the UAE, moving away from solely oil-based energy sources.
Meanwhile, on April 16 in Abu Dhabi, the Emirates Foundation, a philanthropic organization focused on sustainability and youth development, partnered with the Ministry of Education to institute sustainability education in public schools. Emirates Foundation Managing Director Sheikh Sultan bin Tahnoon Al Nahyan described the importance of this development.
"Incorporating sustainable development issues in the teaching curricula allows our students to gain knowledge, the necessary skills, attitudes and values to chart sustainable future for the state," Al Nahyan said.
The curriculum will cover “climate changes, reducing disaster risks, sustainable consumption and personal financial management” because, as Al Nahyan reported, these topics are the most salient for Emirati schoolchildren in becoming informed members of a sustainable society.
The UAE’s capital city, Abu Dhabi has taken further steps to contribute to the sustainable success of the nation. The Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 Plan, managed by the Urban Planning Council (UPC), sets the framework for the city’s sustainability. The plan’s official brochure explains:
“[E]very element of the UPC's work is underpinned by environmental sensitivity and the desire to protect [Abu Dhabi’s] unique ecology for future generations.”
The plan is wide-reaching and includes an environmental branch, The Estidama. The Estidima, Arabic for sustainability, “addresses sustainability concerns at large through its environmental, economic, social and cultural angles” with schemes like the Pearl Rating System, a mechanism for rating the sustainability of new buildings, similar to the Leadership in Energy and Environmental Design rating system in the United States.
All of these initiatives fit into the UAE’s Vision 2021 plan to become a leading nation by that year.
According to this guiding development strategy, Emiratis will “thrive as a cohesive society bonded by its identity, and enjoy the highest standards of living within a nurturing and sustainable environment.”
Natalie McCauley is a contributing writer. Email her at
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