Abu Dhabi: His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, on Sunday stressed that the environment is an essential part of the UAE’s national security and social stability.
Shaikh Mohammad also said that there can be no sustainable development without a sustainable environment and that it is our duty to maintain a balanced environment for future generations.
He made the remarks while chairing the Cabinet meeting held at the Presidential Palace in Abu Dhabi.
During the meeting, the Cabinet approved the recommendations of the Federal National Council (FNC) on the preservation of the environment in the state.
It also approved the development of strategic plans for dealing with disasters and environmental accidents at all levels, especially maritime incidents such as oil spills.
In May, the FNC called on the Ministry of Environment and Water to take up disaster planning, note environmental changes occurring across the country and set up specialised research centres and standardised databases on environmental issues.
The House also suggested the ministry issue regular reports on the country’s environmental situation and implement a waste recycling project.
Representatives also called for federal environment law 24 to be amended to meet these demands.
The Ministry of Environment and Water in April came under fire from FNC members, who accused it of not having plans to tackle environmental emergencies, failing to lead environmental efforts and not cooperating with non-governmental organisations (NGOs).
A report by the FNC Committee on Agriculture and Fisheries cited an incident in which the White Whale ship sank off the Umm Al Quwain coast in October and pointed to the “ineffective” enforcement of laws and regulations in efforts to stop illegal practices by oil tankers and cargo and fishing ships, highlighting the grey area between jurisdiction of local and federal departments.
It highlighted that 1,320 tonnes of waste were dumped in the Dubai Creek by different ships last year.
The outcome of environmental research and development did not match environmental challenges and issues across the country, according to the report.
The representatives warned against desalination plants dotting the UAE’s coastline, saying they are legally flushing massive quantities of brine, or wastewater, carrying chlorine and metals into the Arabian Gulf on a daily basis.
The members also demanded that the Ministry effectively control the use of underground water, estimated at three billion cubic metres last year out of the annual total water consumption of 4.5 billion cubic metres.
They urged the Ministry to enforce strict air-quality guidelines on quarries, where unsafe practices can cause breathing problems and skin cancer, with members particularly concerned about 70 quarries in Fujairah and 30 others in Ras Khaimah as they are very close to residential areas.
The members also quoted the Minister of Health as saying that 40 per cent of children and 15 per cent of the total population in the UAE suffer from asthma, mainly because of dust and fumes from plants.