OPN Sustainability
The UAE has left indelible marks as the first Arab nation to champion the cause of climate action Image Credit: Gulf News

In the year 2023, the UAE stands with a sense of pride, firmly positioned within the Year of Sustainability. This yearlong theme serves as a potent testament to the UAE’s unwavering commitment to the preservation of the environment and the reinforcement of national strategies aimed at the sustainable utilisation of natural resources.

This vision, deeply rooted in the legacy of the nation’s founding father, Late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, reflects a profound dedication to principles that have transcended time.

As the UAE embarks on this milestone year, it unveils a narrative that intricately weaves sustainability into its developmental fabric, an enduring commitment steadfastly aligned with its future vision.

The trajectory embarked upon by the UAE illustrates a well-thought-out progression, a trajectory that underscores the carefully crafted visions and strategic acumen that define Emirati development.

With inclusivity and progress as its guiding ethos, a legacy shaped by pioneering minds, the UAE has left indelible marks as the inaugural Arab nation to champion the cause of climate action.

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An audacious endeavour

At the forefront of its accomplishments lies a remarkable feat — the diversification of clean energy sources, coupled harmoniously with the establishment of sustainable urban centers, judicious water resource management, the augmentation of biodiversity, transformative industrial processes, ecologically viable transportation systems, circular economy implementation, energy efficiency enhancement, and robust food security strategies.

Of notable significance is the UAE’s leadership in spearheading climate action, epitomised by its ambitious undertaking to achieve climate neutrality.

This audacious endeavour is exemplified by the initiative to cultivate mangroves, with an ambitious goal of planting 100 million by the year 2023, leveraging cutting-edge drone technology to restore these crucial ecosystems.

This groundbreaking initiative not only finds its place among the top 12 global innovations targeted at addressing the challenges posed by climate change but also reflects the UAE’s unwavering commitment.

This commitment is further emphasised by its substantial investments in carbon-free energy sources, with the emblematic Barakah nuclear power plant at the forefront of this paradigm shift.

A view of the Barakah plant units 1 and 2 Image Credit: Supplied

Creating sustainable urban environments

Moreover, the nation has fostered an ecosystem of environmental and specialised awards, fostering an environment conducive to innovation at both local and international levels.

Consequently, the UAE’s ascendancy in this arena has firmly positioned it as a global front-runner — a nexus for the export and re-export of green technologies. This strategic stance ensures the convergence of enduring economic growth and responsible environmental stewardship, a duality that underpins its global leadership status.

An embodiment of the UAE’s commitment to sustainable living and innovation is the Masdar City, nestled within Abu Dhabi. A testament to the nation’s dedication to green research and development, Masdar City stands as a beacon of what’s achievable in creating sustainable urban environments.

Hand in hand with this, a comprehensive suite of strategies, policies, laws, and legislation has been meticulously crafted to align with the principle of sustainability across sectors.

Image Credit: Screengrab from the video

Environmental stewardship and progress

Fast forward to COP28, slated for November 2023 — an event that serves as a resounding call for global collaboration, underpinning the imperative to halve carbon emissions by 2030.

This momentous gathering offers a platform to showcase the UAE’s strides in climate sustainability, sharing a model that reverberates universally, cultivating resilience in the face of climate challenges.

The gravity of this international occasion implores media and other influential voices to elevate its significance, engaging global communities and younger generations in their roles as guardians of the environment.

Stepping into its role as the host of COP28, the UAE anticipates a chance to champion its advancements, invigorate others to embrace sustainable urban practices, and unwaveringly pursue its goals within this realm. In doing so, the UAE casts a spotlight upon its enduring legacy of environmental stewardship and progress.

Alya Hassan Al Yassi is an Emirati researcher and strategic media expert