Target-driven Strategy Vital to Shrink UAE’s Footprint

DUBAI — The United Arab Emirates needs target-driven policies to reduce its ecological footprint after it ranked the highest per capita in a global environment report card issued on Wednesday, according to officials and environmentalists.

By Zoe Sinclair

  • Follow us on
  • google-news
  • whatsapp
  • telegram

Published: Fri 31 Oct 2008, 12:24 AM

Last updated: Sun 5 Apr 2015, 7:40 PM

The World Wildlife Fund(WWF) Living Planet Report 2008, which evaluates a country’s impact on the planet by accounting for factors such as carbon emissions and resource consumption, found the average UAE resident needs 9.5 global hectares to support the lifestyle, or about 4.5 planet earths.

This is the highest per capita ecological footprint worldwide and comes after the country’s top ranking two years ago.

However, Minister of Environment and Water Dr Rashid bin Fahad said the country was taking initiatives to curb its toll on the environment.

“The UAE is taking the right steps to reduce its carbon footprint through initiatives like Masdar, development of green building codes, public transport, hybrid vehicles and Metro by Dubai RTA, development of a zero gas flaring policy by ADNOC and carbon capture and storage initiatives by ADNOC and Masdar. Public awareness campaigns and education programmes will also need to be developed,” Bin Fahad said.

“Furthermore, reduction in demand of natural resources and improvement of efficiency across all sectors - recycling, reusing, energy efficiency etc. - and diversification of energy supply by using more low-carbon technologies are some of the areas that we believe will influence our carbon footprint,” he suggested.

Dubai Municipality’s Director of Environment Hamdan Al Shaer pointed out that the country only demanded 0.32 per cent of global resources.

However, he said any significant reduction in the per capita ranking in time for the 2010 Living Planet Report could only be reduced through policies which set targets.

“The change required is mainly in the lifestyle. It can’t happen in two years. It takes steady negotiation with stakeholders to reduce the footprint,” Hamdan said.

“We need to make a Metro - but we need to make people use the Metro, too.”

Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of Emirates Wildlife Society-WWF, cautioned that the ranking had to be considered in the context of UAE’s rapid development which had provided economic growth and a high-end lifestyle for its residents.

“The options for residents to live more sustainably have not come on line yet,” Al Mubarak said.

“You’ve got Masdar and the Metro and green buildings… but we need additional initiatives that individuals, the private sector and government can take up.”

Al Basama Al Beeiya, partner of EWS-WWF, was established after the 2006 report to verify the data and collate statistics to better inform policy in future.

Mubarak said the organisation, at the end of the first phase, recommended the establishment of a federal statistics database and a carbon emissions inventory.

The project would now concentrate on the country’s carbon emissions - 80 per cent of its ecological footprint, to provide policy and objectives for reducing emissions in different sectors.


More news from