Dubai: The World Environment Day on June 5 saw several entities in the UAE take steps to raise awareness about sustainability issues and launch initiatives to solve them.
This time, the annual occasion comes in the UAE’s Year of Sustainability, announced earlier by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan.
On Monday, Sheikh Mohamed wrote on his Twitter page: “On World Environment Day, the importance of collective efforts to address the challenges of climate change remains as critical as ever. The UAE is committed to championing and fostering international collaboration to preserve our environment & ensure a sustainable future for all.”
His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, also shared an inspirational message on Twitter, saying: “On the World Environment Day, we call for combined efforts, potential and resources to protect our planet, environment, and diversity of nature. This is a general call for all institutions and countries. Because the future of our generations depends on our decisions today.”
In the capital, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and ADNOC Distribution announced the launch of a recycling initiative with rewards, in line with the theme of the Day, #BeatPlasticPollution. The ‘Reverse Vending Machine’ (RVM) initiative supports Abu Dhabi’s Single Use Plastic Policy and the UAE’s broader sustainability objectives, the agency said.
The RVMs installed at ADNOC Distribution retail service stations provide customers with a convenient way to deposit used plastic bottles and aluminium cans. The RVMs will offer incentives for consumers to motivate them to do more for the environment. EAD said the initiative aligns with its ‘Mission to Zero’ campaign, striving for zero plastic, zero waste, zero emissions, and zero harm to biodiversity.
Free bike rides
In Dubai, the Roads and Transport Authority (RTA) and Careem partnered to offer free Careem BIKE rides at 186 docking stations across the emirate on June 10, in celebration of the World Environment Day.
Customers can enjoy unlimited trips for up to 45 minutes each. To avail of the free rides, customers can select ‘BIKE’ in the Careem app, choose the ‘One Day’ pass, and use the code ‘FREE’ for 24-hour access. Card details will be required but no charges will be applied.
Meanwhile, the civic bodies in Abu Dhabi and Dubai marked the day with the distribution of saplings and encouraged community participation in tree planting.
Abu Dhabi City Municipality said it distributed saplings, roses, and agricultural seedlings to encourage the community to actively participate in planting and beautifying the region with trees. Workshops and other educational initiatives were organised in collaboration with partners to raise environmental awareness. Expert insights on climate change were provided to students and residents at Al Shahama Municipality Centre and Rabdan Park.
A workshop held in Musaffah Industrial Area targeted workers, emphasising the importance of a cleanliness and encouraging engagement in agriculture and green spaces in the industrial area.
Dubai Municipality also organised a series of events to raise environmental awareness and distributed aloe vera seedlings to its employees to promote the preservation of environmental resources, based on the slogan ‘Let’s make Dubai more sustainable every day’. The aloe vera plant was chosen because it is one of the plants that consumes small amounts of water, as it can be irrigated only once every 14 days, the civic body said.
The Municipality also launched an awareness film on World Environment Day, which will be shown across all the cinemas in malls. This is intended to raise public awareness regarding the significance of preserving biodiversity, natural reserves, and natural resources. Additionally, workshops and campaigns promoted green habits among youth, employees, and students.
Plastic from seaweed
Also in Dubai, the Museum of the Future highlighted how it embodies the UAE’s commitment to global sustainability. Partnering with Dubai Municipality, the museum is pioneering sustainable solutions for construction and food provision. The ‘Tomorrow Today’ exhibition showcases collaborations and technologies that pave the way to a greener world.
One of the exhibition’s most extraordinary highlights is the pioneering development of biodegradable plastic derived from seaweed. This revolutionary material, poised to enter the market within the next five to 10 years, presents a game-changing alternative to traditional plastics, the museum stated.
“Harnessing the power of nature, this eco-friendly solution suggests replacing everyday essentials such as shampoo bottles and cooking containers with biodegradable alternatives, combatting the global plastic pollution crisis and safeguarding our planet’s fragile ecosystems,” it added.
Going beyond showcasing sustainability the museum actively integrates it into its operations, promoting plastic-free packaging, reusable shopping bags, and accessible water fountains. The exhibition also explores visionary innovations in construction, utilizing coconut fiber waste, mycelium, and 3D printing with sustainable materials to create resource-efficient and socially inclusive cities.
Message from space
UAE astronaut Sultan Al Neyadi, who is on the longest Arab space mission onboard the International Space Station (ISS), meanwhile shared a time-lapse video of the Earth as seen from over 400km above the planet.
“Behold the beauty that is our planet. Let us take care of it. On #WorldEnvironmentDay, sharing with you a time-lapse of Earth from the ISS,” Al Neyadi tweeted.
Also on Monday, Emirates Environmental Group honoured sustainability champions during the 26th edition of Emirates Recycling Awards.
The ceremony was held at Dubai Knowledge Park in the presence of Sheikh Salem bin Sultan bin Saqr Al Qasimi, Member of the Executive Council of the Government of Ras Al Khaimah, Chairman of the Department of Civil Aviation in Ras Al Khaimah and an honorary member of the group.
The ceremony witnessed awarding the top waste collectors in all major projects and campaigns launched by the group. There were three categories of awards for each type of collected waste, for families and individuals, academic institutions and companies.
Habiba Al Marashi, Co-founder and Chairperson of Emirates Environmental Group, said: “This year marks a significant milestone as we celebrate the 50th anniversary of World Environment Day. According to United Nations reports, the global production of plastic exceeds 400 million tonnes annually. It is alarming that less than 10 per cent of this plastic is recycled and it is estimated that 19 to 23 million tonnes end up polluting our lakes, rivers and oceans every year. Irresponsible disposal of plastics harms human health, biodiversity and ecosystems from mountain tops to ocean depths.”
Sheikh Salem said: “As we celebrate the heroes today in the Year of Sustainability, the importance of waste recycling takes centre stage, which the group seeks to imbibe in the culture of the society. Waste management is indeed a necessity of our era, as it plays an important role in preserving the environment, reducing pollution and promoting the concept of a circular economy.”