The UAE has developed a unique scientific tool that assesses how changes in the electricity and water sector might affect Abu Dhabi's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions up to the year 2030. The tool has been developed by the partners in the Al Basma Al Beeiyah (Ecological Footprint) initiative to support sustainable policy-making by providing decision-makers with analysis on how different policies can help lower the UAE's Ecological Footprint.
When faced with the issue of its high per capita Footprint, the UAE is taking positive action. There is no better time than today to highlight the urgency for science-based policy work in the UAE. The country needs to understand and measure the impact of it's development in order to implement policies that can effectively tackle the Footprint.
The move has been welcomed by Dr Mathis Wackernagel, President of the Global Footprint Network, who said that: "In contrast to many other countries, the UAE is not fearful of change, but is confident that it can manage and adapt to new realities. We are excited about our partnership with the UAE government and its agencies, and our collective effort to develop tools to help build a prosperous, resilient economy for the 21st Century."
A statement issued jointly by the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), and the Emirates Wildlife Society in association with World Wide Fund for Nature, (EWS-WWF), said that the tool, developed by researchers from the Masdar Institute and EWS-WWF, compares a baseline CO2 emissions scenario with alternative, lower carbon footprint scenarios. It does this by assessing the effectiveness of different policies to tackle supply and demand of electricity and water. Eventually the tool will convert CO2 emissions into Ecological Footprint terms and it will also shed light on the impact of these policies on the UAE's overall Footprint. However, before implementing these policies, the Initiative recommends that socio-economic assessments are conducted on the different scenarios. Ultimately the aim is to generate useful, relevant and robust scientific analysis that government leaders can use to develop targeted policies that can help make the UAE economy more sustainable.
Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS-WWF, commented on this achievement: "The development of this scenario modelling tool involved extensive collaboration and consultation with several government institutions, which provided us with input, data and expertise. "While the tool shows that real footprint reductions are possible, it can only guide effective policy development and will require continued collaboration between government entities, NGOs and academia." The statement noted that the Ecological Footprint indicator relates directly to natural resource consumption patterns, and in the UAE, the household, business/industry and government sectors are responsible for 57%, 30% and 12% of the Footprint respectively.
Over the last two years, the Initiative has helped to raise awareness and promote sustainable consumption in these sectors. It has done this by developing an animation, website (www.ecologicalfootprint.heroesoftheuae.ae), educational materials, awareness and outreach activities and a sustainable lifestyle campaign (Heroes of the UAE), co-developed by EWS-WWF and EAD. The Initiative has also translated the Living Planet Report 2010 into Arabic and developed a complementary insert that highlights its achievements.
Majid Al Mansouri, the Secretary General of EAD, commented: "EAD's initiatives encourage residents to play a role in positive environmental change. Issues such as excess energy and water use play a factor in carbon emissions and climate change, which effectively contribute to the overall Ecological Footprint. Government, private and non-governmental organisations, as well as UAE society, need to come together to ensure that we are protecting our environment for future generations and promoting sustainable development." In addition to the Al Basma Al Beeyiah Initiative, the UAE is also undertaking a number of ambitious initiatives, such as Masdar, development of green building codes, a growing public transport system, and a push towards renewable energy and demand-side management. These steps are helping to transition the UAE into a leading nation in sustainable development and science.
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