Abu Dhabi’s efforts to protect marine life get UN recognition

The emirate's coastline is home to an array of marine life, including 500 species of fish, seven species of marine reptiles, three species of dolphins


Waheed Abbas

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Photo: Twitter
Photo: Twitter

Published: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 12:17 PM

Last updated: Wed 14 Dec 2022, 2:24 PM

Abu Dhabi's efforts to protect coastlines, marine life as well as restore coral, mangrove and seagrass have received UN recognition and been named one of the 10 pioneering efforts to revive the natural world.

The UAE capital’s efforts were honoured as World Restoration Flagship Initiative by the United Nations Environment Programme which means the steps taken by Abu Dhabi are now eligible to receive United Nations support, funding or technical expertise.

In March 2022, the UN asked countries to nominate World Restoration Flagships to honour the most ambitious and impactful global initiatives to rebuild degraded ecosystems. Governments were invited to present their most inspiring efforts by March 31, 2022.

Abu Dhabi’s recognition came during the UN Biodiversity Conference in Montreal, Canada.

Abu Dhabi's coastline is home to an array of marine life, including 500 species of fish, seven species of marine reptiles, three species of dolphins, one species of finless porpoise and the dugong, the world’s only exclusively marine mammal that is herbivorous.

To counter the impact of urban development, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi along with its partners, conservationists and communities are planting mangrove trees, transplanting healthy coral and creating nurseries for seagrass, reviving the coast and creating a haven for marine life.


Abdulla Al Remeithi, Director - Integrated Environmental Policy and Planning, Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, said during The Journey to Net Zero forum hosted by Khaleej Times in November that the UAE capital will plant one million mangrove trees in its efforts to achieve net zero target and the emirate also counts on the role of the private sector to meet the target.

“That is considered crucial for the dugong. Once seen regularly across tropical and sub-tropical waters from East Africa to Vanuatu, the mammal is now considered vulnerable to extinction. When Abu Dhabi’s seagrass restoration is completed, 3,000 dugongs – and over 4,000 green turtles – are expected to use the habitat for foraging and reproduction,” said the UN Environment Programme.

“Human activity is tragically pushing many marine animals, like the dugong, towards extinction. Abu Dhabi’s efforts to restore coastal habitats are a clear sign that it’s not too late reverse course and give nature a second chance. This example showcases that is possible to live in harmony with nature and that’s what these World Restoration Flagships demonstrate,” said Inger Andersen, executive director, UN Environment Programme.

“Abu Dhabi’s coastal and marine areas are an important biodiversity hotspot. We saw the challenges facing our critical coastal and marine habitats and we are delighted our resulting restoration efforts are being recognised by the UN,” said Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, the secretary general of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi.

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