From Sea Heroes to Green Architecture: 6 ways UAE is building a sustainable future

The country has aimed to be Net Zero by 2050

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Nasreen Abdulla

Published: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 6:43 PM

Last updated: Sun 4 Jun 2023, 11:26 PM

From protecting its coastlines to building energy efficient buildings, the UAE is taking collective action towards a sustainable future.

On Sunday, the country launched a new campaign to highlight success stories in sustainability in a bid to get more people to contribute to UAE’s efforts in climate action.

The move aims to encourage members of the local community to engage with and support climate action-related strategies. UAE is hoping that the more people join in the initiative, it will generate a positive impact and create an environmentally aware community.

Here are six initiatives the country is taking to get to net zero:

1. Green Architecture: Some of the UAE’s most iconic buildings are also some of its most sustainable. In 2010, the UAE Cabinet approved the Green Building and Sustainable Building standards to be applied across the country. The project is expected to save Dh10 billion by 2030 and reduce around 30 per cent of carbon emissions. In addition to this, several private companies have been investing in making buildings energy efficient. At a recent, property development company Aldar revealed that they had invested Dh 70 million in upgrading the fittings of their old properties to increase their energy efficiency.

2. Sea Heroes: With an approximately 1,318km coastline, the UAE has several sustainable practices to protect its coastal and marine ecosystems which are vital for its future. One of the initiatives is Jaywun, a 50-metre marine research vessel that monitors the marine environment of the UAE that aims to assess the effects of the climate change and provide a reliable scientific platform that meets the needs of marine research in the UAE. The country also has 16 marine protected areas.

3. Climate Makers: There are several members of the UAE community who are undertaking innovative climate and environmental initiatives to build a sustainable future. While the country has decided to appoint ADNOC Group CEO Dr Sultan Al Jaber as president designate of COP28 and Minister of State for Youth Shamma Al Mazrui as the Youth Climate Champion. Meanwhile managing director of Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, Razan Al Mubarak, is the UN Climate Change High-Level Champion. Earlier this year, Dubai Press Club and UAE-based social enterprise Goumbook, launched a podcast featuring interviews with individuals who have made exceptional contributions to the sustainability and climate action movement in the UAE and beyond.

4. Made Sustainable: Several homegrown businesses and products are contributing to the UAE’s sustainable future. For example, homegrown foodtech startup Switch Foods announced the successful launch of Abu Dhabi’s first state-of-the-art exclusive plant-based meat production facility earlier this year. Also, the number of companies at Masdar City Free Zone increased 26 percent in 2020 with more than 900 sustainability-focused innovation and technology companies located there.

5. Sustainable Tourism: Operating a sustainable tourism model is crucial to the country’s future vision – and it benefits everyone. As part of its mandate, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) launched a multi-phase national project named ‘The UAE’s Natural Wonders’ to promote ecotourism across the seven emirates.

In its initial phase that includes raising awareness about the country’s 43 nature reserves, MOCCAE has compiled an extensive collection of information materials, photographs and videos.

6. The Reserve: Through collaborative initiatives and innovative solutions, the UAE is protecting its delicate and unique natural ecosystems. By 2020 there were 49 nature reserves in the country. Reserves that have been listed as wetlands of international importance within the framework of Ramsar Convention increased from 2 nature reserves in 2010 into ten in 2019. There are 13 terrestrial reserves as well as six marine protected areas as part of the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network.


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