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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2019
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Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2019

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It is vital for the global community to commit to working together to address the challenges of climate change and accelerate sustainable development, UAE ministers and senior business leaders said today ahead of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

ADSW 2019, one of the world’s largest sustainability gatherings, takes place in the UAE capital from 12-19 January and explores the major social, economic and environmental trends impacting the sector on the theme ‘Industry Convergence: Accelerating Sustainable Development’.

Held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, the global platform hosts heads of state, government ministers, policymakers, industry experts, innovators and future sustainability leaders.

Speaking at the press conference to launch the landmark event today, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “Every year at ADSW, the UAE joins forces with the rest of the world to accelerate the pace of sustainable development. Platforms such as this one enable the country to keep pace with the increased global uptake for innovative climate technologies, and lead the way to a cleaner and better tomorrow.”

He added: “This year, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment is proud to present the second edition of the Climate Innovation Exchange (CLIX) initiative that facilitates seamless sourcing, funding and monetisation of pioneering climate solutions.”

The 9th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) takes place on 11-13 January and ADSW 2019 ends with the two-day Festival at Masdar City on 18-19 January.

“Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is one of the world’s preeminent gatherings of policy, industry and academic leaders that aims to identify a common pathway to a more equitable, low-carbon and sustainable economic future,” said Adnan Z. Amin, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency. “The Assembly, IRENA’s ultimate decision-making body that brings together 180 countries, takes place each year at ADSW – a reflection of its significance as a leading global platform for policy dialogue and a catalyst for action.”

“Accelerating renewable energy deployment is central to sustainable development and represents the most cost-effective, economically attractive and socially beneficial path to meeting our climate objectives,” continued Amin. “IRENA is committed to highlighting this message at ADSW and beyond.”  

This year’s edition of ADSW will explore how digitalisation and innovative technologies are converging to provide new opportunities and solutions to drive economic growth, sustainable development and prosperity.

To align more closely with the UAE Vision 2021 and the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), ADSW has widened its scope beyond renewable energy. ADSW 2019 will address global sustainability challenges and opportunities on the six pillars of Energy and Climate Change, Water, Future Mobility, Space, Biotechnology and Tech for Good. The topics of Youth and Digitalisation will inform each of these pillars and the programmes running throughout ADSW.

ADSW’s anchor event, WFES (World Future Energy Summit), will feature more than 850 exhibiting companies from 40 countries. As part of WFES, the inaugural Future Summit is being held on 15-16 January, bringing together leaders from government, the non-profit community, institutional investors and the private sector to debate accelerating the transition to a sustainable society. Confirmed speakers include heads of state alongside a host of UAE and foreign government dignitaries and global business leaders.

HE Mohammad Juma Bin Jarsh Al Falasi, Undersecretary, Department of Energy (DoE), Abu Dhabi, said: “Sustainability is one of the main pillars of our strategy aimed at optimising the contribution of our natural resources to the energy supply in the UAE. We are keen to enhance the level of integration among all stakeholders, and ensure that we have the right strategy and regulations in place to minimise the consumption of oil & gas, and to benefit from renewable sources, particularly solar. We plan to deploy appropriate technology for each phase of energy production, to enhance the efficiency of the energy sector while minimising carbon emissions.”

Commenting on Masdar’s role as host of ADSW and the event’s expanded mandate, Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, said: “At Masdar, we regard investing in renewable energy and sustainable real estate as good business. Hosting ADSW, on the other hand, is our proud duty to the UAE. It is a collaborative effort and a platform for multilateral dialogue. It is thanks to the commitment of the UAE leadership, our patron His Highness the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, our shareholder Mubadala, the investment of our strategic partners and sponsors, and the engagement of the media and the local UAE community, that ADSW has become one of the world’s largest sustainability gatherings.

“More and more industries, including many youthful start-ups, are committing themselves to taking action on sustainability, enabled by the transformative potential of digital technology. Masdar is proud to be Abu Dhabi’s global renewable energy leader, but bringing about sustainable development is not the job of the renewables sector alone. Only by making a commitment, together, can we realise tangible progress on mitigating climate change.”

A new addition this year is the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum (ADSFF), designed to focus on increasing the adoption of sustainable financing and directing capital towards activities with positive economic, social and environmental impacts. 

The Forum will convene top global institutional investors, regulators, academics and key influencers to share insights on the sustainable finance industry in the region, while also setting the stage for Abu Dhabi Global Market to unveil its plans to create a robust and global sustainable finance hub.

Richard Teng, CEO, Financial Services Regulatory Authority, Abu Dhabi Global Market, said: “Abu Dhabi Global Market is pleased to host and curate the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum as part of the eminent Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. As a leading international financial centre, ADGM recognises the importance of driving sustainable financing and investments and working with key local and international stakeholders to facilitate initiatives that deliver long-term benefits for the well-being of society and the economy.

“The Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum provides a platform that brings together and creates open dialogues among governments, innovators, service providers, investors and industry professionals on sustainable investment and long-term economic growth. We believe that Abu Dhabi and the UAE provide a conducive and attractive environment for investors and institutions to raise and deploy capital, and adequately manage their risks exposure to achieve their business objectives and growth in a sustainable and responsible manner.” 

Last year, a record 38,000 people representing 175 countries attended ADSW, including 180 ministers and 300 high-level speakers. Commercial projects worth US$15 billion were announced during the week.

The Youth 4 Sustainability Hub (Y4S) will provide a platform for students, young professionals, innovators and entrepreneurs to become more educated about the future of the sustainability industry. It will also feature Future Skills 2030: an engaging and interactive mentorship opportunity for students and young professionals to network with industry experts, and gain key skills to pursue a career in sustainability.

As part of the Hub, CLIX (the Climate Innovations Exchange) will again connect youth, entrepreneurs, innovators and investors to enable partnerships that will power climate change solutions through knowledge, innovation and funding. In 2018, the 27 finalists exhibited their inventions, resulting in nearly half the finalists receiving funding pledges from investors, totalling more than US$17.5 million.

This year, the expanded CLIX programme has received a record 811 applications from across 83 counties in categories including Sustainability in Space, Future of Energy, and Future of Food & Agriculture.

Following the ADSW Opening Ceremony on 14 January, the Zayed Sustainability Prize, which also adopted an expanded mandate earlier this year, will recognise winners in the Global High Schools category and the four new categories of Health, Food, Energy and Water.

Meanwhile, the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) platform will host its annual Forum on 16 January under the theme ‘The Role of Women in Advancing the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs)’. Launched on the sidelines of the 70th United Nations General Assembly in September 2015, the WiSER initiative aims to educate, engage and empower women with the right skills to participate and lead across all sustainability sectors.

To stimulate further debate and action beyond ADSW 2019, the global #WeAreCommitted campaign is being launched involving UAE ministers, international industry leaders and members of the local community. Besides promoting the sustainability pledges of opinion formers, the campaign invites members of the public to highlight their own commitments to adopt a more sustainable lifestyle, while promoting respect for the right of all communities to enjoy cleaner land, air and water in 2019, the Year of Tolerance in the UAE.

Bringing ADSW 2019 to a close will be The Festival at Masdar City, promising a weekend of family entertainment encouraging environmental awareness. Activities will focus on seven thematic zones – the Energy Cluster, Sustainability Cluster, Water and Agriculture Cluster, Urban Community, Market Place, Main Stage, and Masdar Park.

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