Since 1972, World Environment Day has been hosted by a different city every year on a distinct theme, under the aegis of the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP). This year, the host country is Barbados, the theme is Small Islands and Climate Change, and the official slogan is Raise Your Voice, Not The Sea Level.
The day epitomises the efforts of innumerable individuals and organisations around the world engaged in combating environmental damage and repairing the ecological fabric.
The UN Under-Secretary-General Achim Steiner commended the UAE’s formidable steps towards environmental education, capacity building and sustainable development, among other things, as it played host to the inaugural global conference on Partnership for Action on Green Economy in March. He lauded all efforts towards the UAE’s Vision 2021 and Green Growth Strategy. UNEP also signed an agreement with the UAE to strengthen collaboration on urgent environmental issues.
The country also hosted Abu Dhabi Ascent last month, a two-day preparatory meeting for the UN Climate Summit in September. “In addition to ensuring that future generations enjoy sustainable energy, we must also safeguard our water and food supplies,” Dr Sultan Ahmad Al Jaber, the UAE’s Minister of State, told Gulf News in an earlier interview.
Increasingly recognised as a pioneer in clean energy and other green initiatives, the UAE’s efforts exist in multiple forms.
While construction of Dubai Sustainable City is well under way, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality has introduced 150 new natural gas-powered vehicles to its fleet. Othman Mohammad Sharif Fulathi, Director of Facilities and Security, Abu Dhabi City Municipality, says, “These vehicles are fitted with a GPS tracking system with a view to reduce consumption and ensure the optimal use of vehicles.”
Furthermore, 20 stations providing compressed natural gas and nine conversion workshops are to be launched by next year.
Dubai follows suit as it plans to cut its projected power and water use by 30 per cent by 2030. A report by Dubai’s Supreme Council of Energy states that about 30,000 of the emirate’s 130,000 buildings could be subjects for efficiency improvements at a total cost of about Dh3 billion.
The Emirates Environmental Group celebrates World Environment Day by recognising local efforts towards protecting the environment. It awarded winners of recycling campaigns for aluminium cans, paper, plastic, toners, glass, mobile phones and tetrapac beverage cartons at an event yesterday.
Meanwhile, the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi has recently adopted conservation drones for conservation planning of flamingos at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, while Green Hope UAE has planted more than 500 saplings in the past six months as part of its campaign against land degradation.
“As responsible members of society, we must do our bit for the environment,” says Kehkashan Basu, the 13-year-old founder of Green Hope UAE and UNEP’s youngest Global Co-ordinator for children and youth.
The UAE committed to global sustainability efforts at the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth at The Hague in April. Dr Rashid Ahmad Bin Fahd, the UAE’s Minister of Environment and Water, said, “We must ensure the sustainability of resources and make them viable tools for development, and this will require the forging of partnerships at multiple levels.”