Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment. Image Credit: Supplied

Dubai: A high-level UAE council has approved as many as 22 policies to boost the implementation of the circular economy model in the country, it was announced on Sunday.

The policies focus on four main sectors that form the pillar of the economic model: manufacturing, food, infrastructure, and transport.

The UAE Circular Economy Council, which convened its second meeting of 2022 under Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, also identified at least 16 circular economy activities that open up opportunities for businesses, such as upcycling textile waste into new products, developing automated AI-enabled waste management solutions, and remanufacturing electronic waste.

“With the cabinet’s approval of the UAE Circular Economy Policy in January 2021, we have embarked on an ambitious and important mission to transition from a linear model to a circular economy approach. Our current linear economy consumes valuable materials and resources without being able to benefit from them after use, which represents waste in the modern concept of sustainability. Our approach seeks to protect our environment and to ensure the long-term economic and social prosperity of our country,” Almheiri said.

“Many key stakeholders in the UAE have already started to embrace circular economy principles. We at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and at the Ministry of Economy have been engaging with them and others to gain valuable information and insights about ways of facilitating the transition to a circular economy.”

The minister noted that 45 per cent of global greenhouse gas (GHG) emissions result from producing cars, clothes, food, and other products used every day, which demonstrates the great potential that lies in the circular economy, which can complement the emission reduction and mitigate the current climate crisis.

Approved in January 2021, the UAE Circular Economy Policy identifies the optimal approach to the country’s transition to a circular economy. Its objectives include building a sustainable economy, promoting efficient use of natural resources, encouraging the private sector to shift to cleaner industrial production methods that involve the use of artificial intelligence (AI) and other 4IR technologies, and adopting sustainable consumption and production patterns that reduce environmental stress while meeting the basic needs of the population.

The UAE Circular Economy Council comprises 17 representatives of relevant federal and local government entities, private sector businesses, and international organisations.

Sunday’s meeting drew the participation of representatives of various government and private sector entities from across the UAE. These included Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy; Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of State for Foreign Trade; Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy, and Teleworking Applications; Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, CEO of Alliances for Global Sustainability; Omar Suwaina Al Suwaidi, Under-Secretary of the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology; Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

For his part, minister Abdullah Al Marri, who also heads the council’s Circular Economy Policies Committee, noted that the committee recently held intensive workshops and meetings with the government and private sectors as well as international partners.

“These policies will contribute to addressing all challenges the private sector is facing in its shift to a circular economy and support the country’s green development drive. The initiatives align with the directives of our wise leadership to fast-track the country’s transition to a circular economy as one of the sustainability, flexibility, and growth drivers of the new economic model as per the Principles of the 50.”

The participants also included Dawood Al Hajri, Director-General of Dubai Municipality; Abdulrahman Al Nuaimi, Director-General of the Municipality and Planning Department in Ajman; Essa Al Hashmi, Assistant Under-Secretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment; Yousif Al Ali, Assistant Under-Secretary for Electricity, Water and Future Energy at the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure; Khaled Al Huraimel, CEO of Bee’ah; Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director-General of Emirates Nature-WWF; and Ibrahim Al-Zu’bi, Chief Sustainability Officer at Majid Al Futtaim Holding.