Action plan to increase environment awareness

ABU DHABI - The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) is drafting an action plan to increase both environmental awareness and pro-environmental behaviour in the country.


Silvia Radan

Published: Sat 14 Jun 2008, 2:01 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 6:29 PM

Jaber Al Jaberi, EAD's Director of Environment Policy Section, said last week EAD and the Ministry of Environment discussed drafting of the plan that would be enforced on a national scale.

The move is prompted by a recent survey done by EAD that showed an alarming discrepancy between environmental awareness and behaviour among individuals and organisations throughout the emirate.

Among fishermen, for example, 70.8 per cent knew what was harmful for the environment, specially the marine environment, but only 55.1 per cent did something about it.

As much as 70 per cent of falconers interviewed did not believe that trading in endangered species had a negative impact on the environment and while 63.9 per cent were aware of the environmental issues, in general, and in their field, in particular, only 48.3 per cent were taking any measures for protection and conservation.

In total, EAD interviewed 2,263 subjects, split in 18 groups, from Abu Dhabi, Al Ain and Al Gharbia (Western Region), and the results revealed that though 49 per cent of them were aware of the environmental issues, only 44 per cent adopted eco-friendly measures.

The questionnaire included general topics as well as special questions for specific groups. The sample public survey covered school and university students, as well as individual men and women, both UAE nationals and expatriates living here for at least four years.

The highest level of environmental awareness was found among the youth, while young children were the least aware. Also, women proved to be more environmentally-aware than men, but that did not necessarily change their behaviour.

"For example, they knew wasteful energy consumption was not good, but they still left the light or air-conditioning on when they didn't need it. Or, if they switched off the lights, they would spend a long time under the shower," pointed out Maisa Al Nuwais, EAD's Director of Environmental Awareness Section.

The survey also included the functional sample - fisherman, farmers, wildlife traders/CITES, hotels, hospitals, retail chains, corporate and industries - and the influence sample - media, teachers and preachers.

"The most shocking outcome of the survey was that water was the least concern of people here," revealed Al Nuwais.

Only 42.8 per cent of interviewees were aware of water-related environmental concerns, while only 40.6 per cent took some measures for reducing water consumption. "This is quite a dangerous trend, specially since EAD has water among its top priorities," added Al Nuwais.

What people were most concerned about was energy 61.6 per cent, waste 52.4 per cent and pollution 50.8 per cent.

"In fact, what I found surprising in this survey is that the majority of our subjects relate environment to pollution, not water, waste or any other topic, just pollution," Al Nuwais pointed out.

The Western communities living in the emirate had the highest level of environmental awareness, followed by UAE nationals and Asian expatriates, while the lowest awareness level was among the other Arab communities.

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