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Green Expectations: The UAE’s path to a sustainable future

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Sustainable development is especially important for the United Arab Emirates, which has experienced rapid economic growth and modernization in recent decades. The UAE has become one of the world’s major oil producers, and its economy has diversified into tourism, finance, real estate and other fields.

However, this growth has also brought with it major environmental challenges such as carbon emissions and water scarcity. The UAE’s efforts to promote sustainable development are not only critical to its future development, but also to the world and its efforts to combat climate change.

The UAE has set ambitious targets to reduce its carbon footprint, increase renewable energy production and increase water efficiency. For example, the government aims to source 50% of its energy from clean sources by 2050 and reduce water consumption by 21% by 2030. The country’s ambitions also include raising awareness of climate change issues through initiatives such as declaring 2023 the year of sustainable development. .

As part of the marketing campaign, the government has launched a “green” education program and plans to hold environmental-themed events and exhibitions. They will also encourage partnerships between private and public organizations to promote sustainable practices and encourage green technology innovation through subsidies and incentives.

The 28th UN Climate Change Conference, also known as COP28, is the UAE’s best opportunity to showcase its sustainable development achievements and introduce its global energy transition and decarbonization plans.

The event, which will take place in Dubai Expo City from 20 November to 12 December, will bring together climate change experts and government representatives from around the world to discuss strategies to meet the goals of the Paris Agreement, an agreement between 196 countries climate treaty adopted in 2009. 2015 COP21 and the United Nations 17 sustainable development goals, including sustainable cities and communities, climate action, responsible consumption and production.

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The UAE involves young people, the generation most affected by climate change.

As host, the UAE will highlight its efforts to transform its economy into one driven by clean and renewable energy, as well as technological advancements and climate-friendly solutions. One of the key initiatives in this regard is the UAE’s Smart City Strategy.

Launched in 2014, the policy aims to create innovative cities by harnessing technology and data to improve efficiency, improve quality of life and reduce resource consumption.

The development of Masdar City, Abu Dhabi’s zero-carbon city, and the installation of solar panels on public buildings exemplify what the plan hopes to achieve. The country has also invested in intelligent transportation systems, including electric vehicles and intelligent transportation systems, to reduce carbon emissions.

Abu Dhabi and Abu Dhabi rank among the most liveable cities in the Middle East and Africa, according to the Economist Intelligence Unit Liveability Index, with Abu Dhabi named the most liveable city in the region for the second year in a row. Sustainability plays an important role in these rankings, which also consider infrastructure and amenities, transport systems, healthcare facilities and education systems.

Engaging and empowering young people is another pillar of the UAE’s platform to achieve its long-term sustainable development goals. By engaging young people in decision-making, education and supporting their initiatives, the UAE seeks to develop a generation that is knowledgeable, motivated and actively involved in shaping a sustainable future. The UAE recognizes the importance of involving young people in such initiatives.

The government actively encourages youth participation in environmental and sustainable development projects. Various youth-led organizations such as the UAE Youth Council and the UAE Youth Climate Strategy have been established to engage young people in decision-making processes related to sustainable development.

Government’s focus on sustainable development

The government’s focus on sustainable development also extends to the aviation industry. Emirates has announced a commitment of US$200 million over three years to fund research and development projects aimed at reducing the impact of fossil fuels on commercial aviation. The airline claims their commitment is the largest commitment any airline has ever made to sustainability.

These expenditures will be overseen by the UAE Environmental Sustainability Executive Steering Group and supported by technical experts. Emirates intends to invest the funds exclusively in advanced fuel and energy solutions. According to Etihad Airways’ annual Sustainability Report, between 2019 and 2022, Etihad has reduced its CO2 emissions per tonne-kilometre of revenue by 26%. The airline achieves this by aligning itself with the industry roadmap, engaging with the UAE industrial ecosystem and developing a targeted strategic roadmap.

The concept of sustainable development refers to the ability to meet the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs. Sustainable development is about finding a balance between economic, social and environmental issues, and as climate change in one part of the world affects others, it requires global cooperation and youth empowerment.

The UAE has made significant progress in prioritizing sustainable development and promoting renewable energy. With ambitious goals, collaborative efforts and hosting major conferences, the UAE is leading by example to create a greener future for future generations.

Dr. Kristian Alexander is a Senior Researcher and Director of the International Security and Terrorism Program at Trend Research and Consulting in Dubai, UAE



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