COP28: A Beacon of Sustainability
The UAE showcases its commitment to sustainable growth, innovation, and climate leadership
People attend the UAE Climate Tech Forum in Abu Dhabi. This year's conference — COP28— holds immense importance as it marks the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement's implementation, evaluating the world's progress towards achieving climate goals. — AFP
The stage is set for a momentous event in the fight against climate change. From November 30 to December 12, the 28th meeting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) will convene in Expo 2020, Dubai, alongside several other significant gatherings. This year's conference holds immense importance as it marks the conclusion of the first Global Stocktake of the Paris Agreement's implementation, evaluating the world's progress towards achieving climate goals. The Global Stocktake, occurring midway through the implementation of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development and its SDGs, including Goal 13 (climate action), provides a critical opportunity for nations to reflect on their progress and recalibrate strategies for a sustainable future.
At the historic COP21 in 2015, nations committed to limit global warming to 1.5°C above pre-industrial levels by 2050. However, to stay on track, the daunting challenge of halving emissions by 2030 must be addressed. With just seven years remaining, the urgency to accelerate climate action has never been greater.
Leading the way at COP28 is Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, the COP28 President-Designate and UAE's Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and Special Envoy for Climate Change. Alongside the UNFCCC Executive Secretary, the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion, and the UAE Youth Climate Champion, Dr Al Jaber aims to build consensus and prioritise transformative efforts to combat climate change.
During his address at the Ministerial on Climate Action in Brussels, organised by the environment ministers of the European Union, Canada, and China recently, Dr Al Jaber emphasised the need to question outdated financial models and dismantle barriers within industries and governments that hinder the transition towards a low-carbon economy.
“We are at the midway point between Paris and 2030, but we are nowhere near close enough to our destination. We have to face facts. The incremental steps taken so far to address the climate crisis are not meeting the urgency of the moment,” he said. “Today I am calling on all of us to disrupt business as usual, unite around decisive action and achieve game-changing results.”
According to Dr Al Jaber, the UAE has set the stage for collective action, bringing together global leaders, scientists, and activists to rethink our approach to climate change. It is a prime opportunity to reboot and refocus the climate agenda, inspiring innovative solutions and forging partnerships that can shape a greener and more resilient world.
Reimagining a greener agenda
The UAE has firmly established itself as a global pioneer in infrastructure development, industrial growth, and innovation towards achieving sustainable development. With a range of federal and local strategies in place, the UAE is wholeheartedly committed to shaping a more sustainable future. Key among these sustainability initiatives are the UAE Vision 2021, the UAE Centennial 2071, and the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, which sets an ambitious target of 50 per cent clean energy for the country. These initiatives have already laid the groundwork for several sustainable development goals and serve as guiding principles for upcoming projects.
The United Nations climate change conference (COP28) will take place at the Expo City in Dubai from November 30 until December 12 to evolve a comprehensive plan to address the challenges posed by environmental issues.
In a recent development, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, approved a total of 78 environmental initiatives during a UAE Cabinet meeting in preparation for hosting COP28.
Discussing the long-term implications of COP28 on the sustainable growth of the UAE, Lal Bhatia, Chairman of Hilshaw Group, expresses his belief that COP28 has the potential to catapult the UAE's growth trajectory and propel it towards a future centered around sustainability.
"Considering the loss of sustainability and sustainability development during Covid-19, this year's gathering of world leaders will be no gentle nudge. It's a huge but rewarding challenge to be at the forefront of carbon capture tech - a race where there's no second place. It's a mandate for every brick laid, every road built to be sustainable. COP28 is ushering in a new era of green-revolution, forcing a seismic shift to growth that puts people and planet first. UAE isn't shying away – it's strapping in, ready for the ride," said Bhatia.
Lal Bhatia, Chairman of Hilshaw Group.
Promoting sustainable tourism
The UAE has reiterated its steadfast commitment to promoting sustainable tourism growth. At the G20 Tourism Ministers' Meeting in Goa, India, Abdullah bin Touq Al Marri, Minister of Economy and Head of the Emirates Tourism Council, emphasised the UAE's dedication to actively supporting global efforts in advancing sustainable tourism. Al Marri highlighted the importance of collaborative endeavours and proactive measures to drive the regional and global tourism sector, aligning with the comprehensive economic and social development goals outlined in the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals.
During the meeting, Al Marri underscored the significance of sustainable tourism policies that protect natural resources, preserve cultural heritage, and encourage sustainable development in tourist destinations.
In his speech at the meeting, Al Marri said: “In the present era, the development of the tourism sector heavily relies on sustainability, given the prevailing environmental and social circumstances. It has become crucial to raise awareness about the significance of sustainable tourism through the implementation of legislation and policies that safeguard natural resources and cultural heritage and encourage sustainable development in tourist destinations. The implementation of sustainable tourism strategies on both regional and global scales provides adequate support in the transformation of tourist destinations into environmentally conscious and sustainable entities.”
According to Saad Maniar, Senior Partner at Crowe UAE, the UAE has made significant efforts to reinforce its commitment to sustainability in various sectors.
"We are all aware of the Dubai Strategy of Clean Energy by 2050. The strategy aims to provide 75 per cent of Dubai's energy from clean sources by 2050. It includes targets for solar power generation, clean transportation, and energy-efficient buildings. Also, Masdar City in Abu Dhabi aims to be a zero-carbon, zero-waste community, utilising renewable energy and implementing sustainable design principles," Maniar emphasised.
Saad Maniar, Senior Partner at Crowe UAE.
He further said the UAE has invested heavily in renewable energy projects.
"The UAE is home to the world's largest single-site solar energy project, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, which aims to provide clean energy to hundreds of thousands of homes. Also, the UAE has nuclear power plants to diversify its energy sources."
Outlining path ahead
With its unwavering commitment and visionary leadership, the UAE is setting an exemplary path towards promoting sustainable development. Embracing sustainability across various sectors, including infrastructure and tourism, the UAE is actively contributing to a greener and more prosperous future. The nation's dedication to several other sectors is evident through initiatives like the Dubai 2040 Urban Master Plan. This comprehensive plan outlines a strategic layout that focuses on enhancing people's happiness and quality of life. Over the next 20 years, Dubai aims to reinforce its position as a global destination for citizens, residents, and visitors. The plan incorporates sustainable housing complexes built to the highest planning standards, integrating green spaces, commercial centres and recreational facilities to enhance human well-being.
The UAE's commitment to sustainability extends beyond its infrastructure. At the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, an influential event promoting research and knowledge sharing on balancing economic growth with environmental action, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of State for Foreign Trade, emphasised the importance of prioritising sustainability in economic and policy agendas. He said: “While the UAE is reinforcing our status as a global trade hub, it is imperative that we sustainably continue our growth to align with our nation’s development goals. We recognise the need to achieve sustainable development and develop integrated measures to fulfil economic, social and environmental objectives. The ministry’s participation at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week affirms our commitment to focusing its efforts to effectively implement its sustainable development strategies by leveraging all possible mechanisms to make sure that our policies are met.”
UAE’s collaborative stepstowards COP28
In a strategic move to enhance climate action coordination, key UAE government bodies in advanced technology and space sectors have forged a partnership ahead of COP28. The Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MoIAT), UAE Space Agency (UAESA), and COP28, represented by the Office of the UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, have inked an agreement aimed at mobilising support from local and global technology and space sectors for COP28.
The collaboration's primary objective is to encourage technology and space organisations to share their contributions to climate efforts at COP28's Technology and Innovation Hub.
Sarah Al Amiri, Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, emphasised the pivotal role of advanced technology and space sectors in driving innovation and supporting climate action. This collaboration intends to rally stakeholders from various sectors, including SMEs and startups, to showcase their climate technologies and innovations at COP28's Technology and Innovation Hub.
Ambassador Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General and Special Representative of COP28 emphasised the importance of technological solutions in expediting the energy transition, enhancing early warning systems, supporting localised adaptation, and strengthening resilience at various levels.
DUBAI READY to HOST COP28
The United Nations climate change conference (COP28) will take place at the Expo City in Dubai from November 30 until December 12 to evolve a comprehensive plan to address the challenges posed by environmental issues. The two-week long event will be participated in by heads of state, ministers, leading corporate companies and environment experts to suggest practical measures to contain damage control and resolve climate issues.