Today, the curtain goes up on Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), the ninth such gathering and an event that last year alone brought together more than 38,000 delegates from almost half of the nations around the world — a critically important forum in promoting sustainability globally and the largest environmentally themed gathering in the region.

Importantly, ADSW provides the backdrop to include the World Future Energy Summit, the anchor event, hosting more than 600 companies from some 40 countries. It’s the setting for the eighth session of the Irena Assembly, where government officials from more than 150 countries will gather to set the global renewable energy agenda; it is the forum for the sixth International Water Summit, in partnership with Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority; and hosts the fifth EcoWASTE exhibition and conference in partnership with Tadweer, the Centre of Waste Management in Abu Dhabi.

With so many important strands, ADSW provides a critical opportunity to further our understanding of all the complex and major social, economic and environmental trends that are shaping sustainable development, insuring that policies, governance, procedures and practices are in place, and changing our habits now to ensure the long-term viability of this planet.

The reality is that we live in a moment where the future of our planet is in the balance as never before, and our actions and choices in adapting and implementing sustainable choices will have an immediate and profound effect on our environment. The window for change is small, and ADSW provides a key platform to ensure that governments, agencies, companies and individuals are working in tandem to make greener choices, adopting sustainable practices and making a positive difference now.

The mantra of the environmental movement has always been to think globally and act locally. ADSW provides an ideal platform for this, but also provides a looking glass to assess trends globally, put sustainable methodologies, habits and thinking into practices, and assess global developments and macro planning. The event is pivotal in laying out strategies that will be effective in addressing climate change now.

The theme of this year’s gathering is Industry Convergence: Accelerating Sustainable Development — one that allows delegates to explore how industries are responding to the digital transformation underway in the global economy. That in turn is giving rise to new opportunities to address global sustainability challenges with best practices and policies, action plans and agendas that will have an immediate and long-term positive effect on our planet’s health and sustainability.

Make no mistake, ADSW is a critically important gathering coming at a critically important time, and the lessons learnt now must stand the future in good stead too.