The UAE and Green Growth
EXAMINING DUBAI'S 2019 WORLD GREEN ECONOMY SUMMIT
The 6th World Green Economy Summit (WGES) recently took place in Dubai. As one of the leading global forums on the green economy, it brought together world-class experts in critical sectors from around the world to discuss the concrete steps which must be taken in order to combat climate change. The focus of this year’s summit was the advancement of the global green economy and sustainability agenda, with the view of meeting UN Sustainable Development Goals.
The summit was organised by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) and World Green Economy Organisation (WGEO), with the agenda set by His Highness Shaikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE. The central theme of the gathering was to find solutions which will propel the green economy, realise sustainable development and address the challenges of climate change.
KEY TALKING POINTS OF THE WORLD GREEN ECONOMY SUMMIT
Across the two days of the summit, decision-makers, government officials, international business leaders and world-renowned experts discussed a range of topics to inspire new thinking, adopt new habits and stimulate change in order to accelerate the process of producing a sustainable future for everyone. Discussion points included:
– Sustainable development goals
– Women in the green economy
– The future of mobility, the impact of technology
– Youth engagement
– Sustainability in the private sector
– Green banking and investment
– Green energy
– Sustainable agriculture
– The Dubai Declaration provisions
– WGEO recommendations
The UAE is a truly a ‘Land of Opportunity’ and a champion of economic development. However, progress and prosperity must be achieved through responsible action. It is for this reason the summit directive was to strike a balance between economic growth and the sustainability of natural and environmental resources, as the UAE prioritises its transformation to a green economy.
WHAT IS DRIVING THE PUSH FOR GREEN ADOPTION?
Although the UAE has one of the most diversified economies of all the GCC, petroleum and natural gas continue to dominate the economy—the country does, after all, hold 10 percent of the total world supply of oil reserves and the fifth largest natural gas reserves. Add to this a comprehensive development boom spanning the last forty years in which the country has experienced massive urban development, rapid population growth, a surge in national and personal income, as well as huge infrastructure development, and we find a country facing immense environmental challenges. The consequences of which include increasing demands for energy and water, a tremendous burden on natural capital, and excessive pressure on an already fragile ecosystem.
The UAE recognises these local and global impacts of climate change, and the significance of environmental factors on its economy. The fight against climate change now features as a priority target in maintaining the country’s sustainability and growth. In fact, in line with its wider agenda, the Ministry of Environment and Water has been restructured to encompass climate change and has become the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment.
LEADING THE CHARGE
The Green Growth Strategy was launched in 2012, with a follow-up report in 2016. Its purpose was to create a long-term national initiative to build the green economy of the UAE. It introduced the concept that a green economy—and indeed green growth—is possible through the vision of the UAE’s future-focused government. This Green Economy initiative has since grown to include a range of programs and policies surrounding energy, agriculture, investment and transport.
Part of the government’s strategic plan is to pay acute attention to the development and diversification of the economy. Through the adoption of environmentally-friendly construction policies, the aim is to improve quality of life, while at the same time achieving more sustainable development goals. Furthermore, by implementing IT-oriented education systems, offering lifelong learning support, and providing citizens with the skills required to compete in the future job market, the government is helping the population adapt to a greener future.
As a hub and model of success, the UAE is pursuing the expansion of the green economy ideology beyond its borders by taking responsibility for the promotion and mobilisation of the international community. As part of that, and in addition to the World Green Economy Summit, DEWA organised its 6th consecutive annual Green Week.
WHO ATTENDED UAE'S GREEN WEEK?
The week consisted of a variety of international conferences and exhibitions. The line-up included, the 21st Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (WETEX), the 4th Dubai Solar Show (the region’s largest solar power technology event), the International Desalination Association (IDA) World Congress, and the Gas and Oil Technology Showcase and Conference (GOTECH). Issues surrounding sustainability, raising awareness of the importance of water and electricity conservation and the importance of protecting natural resources were among the topics discussed.
With programmes and initiatives to raise environmental awareness and the need to adopt a sustainable lifestyle, Green Week proves to be an excellent platform for motivating scientific research and innovation as well as informing the next generation of citizens. The government is making a concerted effort to educate and encourage the youth on issues such as the importance of electricity and water rationalisation, the conservation of natural resources, and motivating them to discover new ways to support the country’s transformation with a view to moving the country towards a greener economy.
Both Green Week and the WGES signify the understanding—and willingness—of the UAE to act in response to climate change in a way which addresses local, regional and international challenges. The government’s pursuit of sustainable development, a green growth strategy and, indeed a green economy, are undoubtedly testament to that.
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