This year, we are shouldering a tremendous global leadership responsibility as the hosts of COP28. This is a significant honour for such a young nation.
On this World Environment Day, as a nation, we are further underlining our commitment to positive climate action, one that underpins our role as the hosts of the UN Climate Change Conference. Hosting the event underlines the global community’s trust in the wise leadership that the UAE can provide on the international stage.
This is especially drawn from the personal conviction, ambition, and humanity of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, UAE President, whose passion for the natural world and desire to address humankind’s most pressing challenges, including public health, food security and access to education, is long-standing and heartfelt.
His leadership, guidance, and practical contribution to addressing challenges – no matter their scale or scope – inspires and spurs us to shoulder new responsibilities and deliver solutions that help transform our nation and the world. His Highness affirmed his commitment to inclusive global action, while addressing world leaders at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh last year.
Nothing less than joint action on climate
He said: “We have only one planet, and with that in mind, it is imperative that we partner and work together in a spirit of determination and optimism to address this common challenge through climate action. We look at this as an opportunity for innovation, and a chance to find new solutions and diversify our economy.”
Through multilateral platforms such as COP28, we will continue to raise ambition and focus on climate action as an enormous opportunity for economic and social progress. This is the value system that His Highness has instilled in us – to think big, to aim high, and to act confidently and with conviction.
Across the climactic ecosystem, today, the UAE is acting decisively, inspired by His Highness’s firm belief that sustainable economic development and climate action are closely linked and essential to ensuring a better quality of life for all.
Path has been set
We are on the illustrious legacy of our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and our former President, the late Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who steered our nation to economic prosperity, social progress, and environmental stewardship.
The first country in the Arab world to ratify the Paris Agreement and the first in the region to announce a Net Zero by 2050 strategy, supported by actionable National Pathways, the UAE has continuously raised the bar when it comes to climate action.
Earlier this year, when His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed announced 2023 as the ‘Year of Sustainability’. What was evident was a desire to leave behind a legacy of stewardship for future generations, just as our ancestors did for us.
A ‘force of history’
Our track-record in sustainability action has the force of history behind us. In the past two decades, we have built an impressive slate of initiatives that have positioned the UAE as a responsible climate leader.
His Highness drove the pivotal investment in Masdar, the global standard-setting alternative and renewable energy initiative based in Abu Dhabi and developer of the world’s first carbon-neutral, zero-waste city, which has positioned the UAE at the vanguard of climate-tech innovation.
Similarly, in the field of ecology, close to my own heart, His Highness provides both the understanding and positive intervention required to safeguard our natural habitat, including our mangroves that act as natural carbon sinks.
The Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund too is an innovative philanthropy providing small grants to conservation projects for the world’s most threatened species, while the Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme, launched in 2007, encourages the resettlement of the Arabian Oryx.
More holistically, under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed, the UAE has laid the groundwork and created all the necessary tools for us to contribute intellectually, socially, and morally as dutiful global citizens.
UAE can lead the way on COP28
Over the past months, I have held several diplomatic meetings in Washington, D.C. From my conversations, it was clear that His Highness’s ethos has resonated deeply and is helping to fuel a growing sense that at COP28 UAE, we can deliver a milestone ‘COP of Action’ and a ‘COP for All’, explicitly for climate-vulnerable countries.
When His Highness spoke to me before one such visit to the US, he did not dwell on the obstacles to a global consensus on climate change but focused on the principles that can and will make progress possible.
He spoke eloquently and passionately to me about ‘duty’ and ‘courage’ – their importance as values and the role each plays in providing leadership. He inspires us not to be overly concerned about the outcomes, but about the values that will help us achieve them.
As we accelerate momentum towards COP28, we do so with confidence and courage. Led and inspired by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, we understand our responsibilities and are resolved to leave a positive footprint on the world.
Let us continue to deliver on our duty to lead, with the courage to dare, confident that together we can achieve global progress on climate change.