Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, director-general of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, sharing details of the new award on Tuesday at a briefing in the UAE capital Image Credit: Supplied

Abu Dhabi: Abu Dhabi launched a new award yesterday to recognise individuals and organisations championing environmental sustainability and conservation. The Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Environmental Award will honour its first set of winners for three main categories at COP28 later this year, award organisers the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) announced.

“The UAE’s keenness to protect the environment represents an original trend stemming from its belief in the importance of the Environment in achieving sustainable development. Today, we are launching this award to stimulate excellence and creativity among individuals and organisations in the fields of preserving and protecting the environment, encouraging initiative and leadership, and enhancing interest in environmental work and regulatory compliance,” said Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and chairman of the EAD board of directors.

Image Credit: Supplied

Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD director-general, said the award aims to enhance the image of Abu Dhabi by highlighting initiatives that contribute to environmental protection and resource sustainability.

“The award provides a motivational framework to enhance interest in environmental work, which will help raise the level of public awareness about its importance, and [drive] positive changes with regard to environmental compliance,” Dr Al Dhaheri said.

“Caring for the planet is no longer a luxury, and preserving its natural balance and biological diversity has become the [focus] of decision makers, scientists and activists,” she added.

Multiple categories

In its first edition, the award includes three main categories.

• The Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Medal will honour individuals who have achieved excellence in environmental work, including fishermen, farmers, well owners and falconers who are optimal users of natural resources, as well as environmental initiators and environmental influencers.

• The Environmental Research Award will recognise the best scientific research that promotes solutions to current and future environmental problems and challenges. This category will separately award researchers and research institutions.

• The Environmental Performance Award will focus on best practices and pioneering activities in the field of environmental and sustainable development among private institutions and industrial facilities.

Nomination period

Nominations for the award will open on May 28. Both self and third-party nominations will be accepted, the EAD said. Winners will be honoured at COP28 with a medal or a trophy, and a financial prize. The EAD will also publish the winners’ initiatives and success stories in a bid to share their learnings and encourage others.

Osama Abu Saleem, advisor for the secretary-general’s office at the EAD, said the award is expected to become a biannual recognition. The exact value of the prize in each category will be disclosed in the near future.

In this inaugural edition, the awards will be limited to entities and organisations based in Abu Dhabi.

As the emirate’s environment sector regulator, the EAD has launched a number of sustainability initiatives, including Abu Dhabi’s Single-Use Plastic Policy to curb the use of disposable plastics, the Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative to preserve and expand carbon-storing mangrove forests, and the BAADR smartphone app to promote positive individual behaviours.

The criteria for the awards were developed in cooperation with EFQM to take advantage of the organisation’s experience in developing diagnostic tools – the result of which was the creation of the Environmental diagnostic tool.

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Russell Longmuir, EFQM CEO, said: “EFQM are extremely honoured and excited to work with EAD to create this prestigious Award. For more than 30 years, EFQM has been encouraging organisations globally to focus on their impact on society, sustainability and the environment through our EFQM Model and its suite of assessment tools.”

Isra’a Mobideen, EFQM Middle East Regional Director, said: “Launching this award with EAD confirms EFQM's commitment to creating a better future for all. As the year 2023 is declared as the Year of Sustainability by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, we are very proud to support his vision and contribute to the global aim of preserving the environment and achieving a sustainable future. EFQM has been embedding environmental principles into its Management Model for over 30 years.”