Jeju Island – MENA Herald: His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, reiterated that the UAE has, in recent years, accelerated its efforts to transition from a hydrocarbon-based economy to a more diversified knowledge based economy through preserving its limited resources.
His remarks came during the Country Focus Session on the UAE titled ‘Building a Solid Momentum for Green Growth’ which was part of the Global Green Growth Week held from September 5 to 9 in Jeju Island, South Korea.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi said: “Located in a desert environment, our precious natural resources such as water and marine biodiversity as well as food diversity are expected to be significantly affected by the changing climate. From a strategic point of view, we see these challenges as an opportunity for the UAE to transform our development model towards a low-carbon, climate-resilient green growth and to ensure the country’s long-term sustainability.”
The session highlighted the UAE’s environmental endeavors and how the UAE government has successfully established its own national green growth plan and the steps it is taking toward its implementation. It also showcased the country’s progress in the field and the key learnings from its experience.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi said conservation efforts in the UAE are led by the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who is continuing the legacy of the founding father of the UAE late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan.
“Sheikh Zayed said that we should only take what we need and preserve for future generations. He also believed that we must not only rely on hydrocarbons as the sole source of revenue but need to diversify the economy for the wellbeing of the country,” said Dr. Al Zeyoudi. He pointed out that the ‘Green Economy for Sustainable Development Initiative’ launched by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, in 2012 formed a cornerstone of the UAE’s efforts.
He also stressed that the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 adapted in 2015 as the framework for nation-wide green growth initiatives – developed with the support of the Global Green Growth Institute – was the first of its kind in the Arabian Gulf region.
“It lays out the governance and program structure for implementing necessary actions. The focus is on the development of high value-added industries, such as clean energy, green buildings, sustainable food, environmental goods and services as well as sustainable tourism. It is estimated that our efforts will result in creating 160,000 new green jobs while reducing a substantial portion of carbon emissions,” said Dr. Al Zeyoudi.
The Minister noted that a dedicated national council has been established to coordinate and oversee the implementation of the Green Agenda alongside other entities such as national and local authorities and the private sector.
His Excellency spoke to the attendees about the UAE’s environmental initiatives such as Masdar’s 100 MW Shams 1 concentrated solar power plant and the Mohammed bin Rashid Solar Park, which uses photovoltaic and concentrated solar power technologies and is expected to provide 5GW of capacity by 2030.
He stressed the importance of collaborative efforts to successfully transition into a green economy and said that the UAE is currently drafting the National Climate Change Plan, which will serve as the framework for the country’s climate mitigation and adaptation initiatives.
“The UAE’s ratification of the Paris Agreement further elevates the importance of our work. I would like to stress that our approach is holistic – from educating the youth through formal school programs on the importance of resource conservation and environmental sustainability, fostering green business opportunities with various incentive mechanisms and pushing research and development for technological innovations to improve resource efficiency and resilience from climate change,” said Dr. Al Zeyoudi adding that public-private partnerships are an important ingredient towards green growth.
In addition to Dr. Al Zeyoudi, other presenters included Hussain Khansaheb, Director of Green Development at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment who spoke about the UAE National Climate Change Strategy, the UAE Vision 2021, the National Green Growth Strategy and Green Agenda 2015-2030 as the pillars of the UAE Policy Framework for Green Growth and Climate Change Action.
Marwa Al Amiri, the international organizations coordinator from the ministry spoke about the UAE’s contribution to global efforts to promote green growth. The ministry’s advisor Sameer Assaf also moderated a discussion between Dr. Mulugeta Mengist Ayalew, Director of Climate Change from the Ethiopian’s Prime Minister’s Office and Eng. Ahmed Al Qatarneh, Secretary General from the Jordanian Ministry of Environment. The panelists discussed the relevance of the UAE’s green growth experience to developing countries and the best green growth practices from their respective countries that could be beneficial to the UAE.