UAE: 25th National Environment Day to unveil Climate Action Now theme

The country is gearing up for a slew of events as it is all set to host COP-28 next year.

Nawal Al Ruwaihi, the Head of Education and Awareness at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE). Supplied photo
Nawal Al Ruwaihi, the Head of Education and Awareness at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE). Supplied photo

Joydeep Sengupta

Published: Thu 3 Feb 2022, 5:42 PM

Last updated: Fri 4 Feb 2022, 6:45 AM

The UAE, a young nation, will celebrate its 25th National Environment Day on Friday (February 4).

Khaleej Times spoke with Nawal Al Ruwaihi, the Head of Education and Awareness at the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), to get a sense of how the country is planning to celebrate the momentous occasion as it is all set to host Conference of Parties (COP-28) next year.

Edited excerpts from an exclusive interview with Al Ruwaihi:

How will the MOCCAE mark the 25th National Environment Day on Friday?

This year’s edition of National Environment Day takes place under the theme “Climate Action Now”. The activities will continue for four months — from February 4 to June 5 – that coincides with the National Environment Day to the World Environment Day.

On this important occasion, we renew our commitment to addressing the environmental challenges facing our planet, highlight the ongoing attention our wise leadership pays to environmental work and outline the achievements of the various authorities concerned with protecting the environment. We also use this opportunity to raise public awareness about environmental issues and encourage community participation in tackling them.

How has the National Environment Day evolved through the years?

We have celebrated National Environment Day on February 4 since 1998, coinciding with the date of establishing the Federal Environment Agency, the first integrated government entity concerned with environmental affairs at a nationwide level. The entity was abolished in 2009 and transferred its mandates to MOCCAE.

Each year was dedicated to a different theme until 2011, when the celebrations took on the form of three-year cycles centred around one theme. In 2020, the event reverted to adopting a new theme every year. The themes have spanned a wide range of topics related to the environment, climate and sustainability – from “Clean Air for a Better Environment’ to ‘Vibrant Desert”.

Where does the UAE’s commitment to environmental protection stem from?

Environmental sustainability is at the core of our culture and tradition, entrenched by our ancestors, who devised means to live in harmony with nature.

The founding father of the UAE, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, known as “The Man of the Environment”, once said: “We cherish our environment because it is an integral part of our country, our history, and our heritage. On land and in the sea, our forefathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so only because they recognised the need to conserve it, to take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.”

This wisdom has been at the heart of the UAE’s relationship with the environment since the country’s inception, and continues to shape its future vision.

What are the policy frameworks that have been formulated to enhance sustainability, economic diversification, ecosystem and biodiversity conservation, climate change mitigation and adaptation, and responsible resource consumption?

We’ve adopted multiple long-term national strategies to achieve these goals. These include the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030, the UAE General Environmental Policy 2021, the National Climate Change Plan of the UAE 2017-2050, the National Climate Change Adaptation Program, the UAE Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative, the UAE Green Growth Strategy, the UAE Circular Economy Policy 2021-2031, the National Biodiversity Strategy and Action Plan, and the National Wildlife Sustainability Programme.

These documents guide our transition to a climate-resilient green economy while managing greenhouse gas emissions, minimising climate risks, and increasing climate change adaptation capabilities through strong engagement of the private sector and other key stakeholders.

What is next for the MOCCAE on the environmental front?

This week, we are celebrating the milestone 50th addition to our network of protected areas – Al Wathba Desert Dunes Protected Area. Protected areas play a key role in conserving biodiversity and preserving our environment for future generations.

In addition, preparations are underway for the Food, Agriculture and Livelihoods Week at Expo 2020 Dubai from February 17 to 23, followed by the Water Week – Expo’s final themed week – from March 20 to 26. These events provide an ideal platform to explore sustainable solutions to the greatest challenges facing the world.

We are also gearing up to host the inaugural Middle East and North Africa (MENA) Climate Week at the Expo that will bring together stakeholders from across the region to advance collective climate action.

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