UAE has made 'great strides' in protecting the environment

October 22, 2019

The UAE has made great strides in setting strategic objectives to protect the environment and conserve natural resources, while achieving robust economic and social development, experts said at the Water, Energy, Technology and Environment Exhibition (Wetex 2019).

Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and President of the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa), inaugurated the 21st edition of the event alongside the fourth Dubai Solar Show. Dewa is organising the exhibition under the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai; and under the umbrella of the sixth Green Week. The event will run from October 21-23, 2019, at the Dubai International Convention and Exhibition Centre, with 2,350 exhibitors from 55 countries, under theme 'At the Forefront of Sustainability'.

Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, vice chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and MD and CEO of Dewa, noted that Dewa, in cooperation with several partners, has launched many initiatives and programmes to ensure the rational consumption of resources, as well as to encourage society members to adopt a more energy conscious and responsible lifestyle.

'These initiatives support the aim to transform Dubai into a global centre of clean energy and green economy. Dewa's rationalisation programmes and initiatives over the past 10 years have achieved significant savings in the consumption of electricity and water within the target groups. Between 2009 and 2018, customers saved over 2 terawatt-hours (TW/h) of electricity and 7.4 billion gallons of water, equivalent to Dh1.2 billion. These savings contributed to the reduction of one million tonnes of carbon emissions. Dewa seeks to enhance these savings and continue its intensive efforts to achieve sustainable development to build a sustainable future for us and generations to come,' he said.

'The UAE benefits from strong, visionary leadership that has helped balance the economic requirements of the country with the need for sustainable development,' said Norm Gilsdorf, president, Honeywell, High Growth Regions, Middle East, Russia and Customs Union. 'Through strategic frameworks such as UAE Vision 2021 and, more recently, the UAE Energy Strategy 2050, the UAE has been able to drive its sustainability vision forward thanks to clear goals and objectives that the both the public and private sectors can align to.'

Globally, he noted that there has been a very clear shift towards a more sustainable way of thinking across both the public and private sectors. By being more sustainable, organisations can create more long-term value for all their stakeholders, in addition to creating a positive environmental impact for future generations.

'In the GCC region, we will continue to see strong leadership and increased investment by governments to improve sustainability, rationalise water and electricity usage, and increase energy efficiency. The UAE Energy Strategy 2050, for example, aims to reduce energy use in the country by both individuals and businesses by 40 per cent. Regional governments will also continue to refine their energy mixes to reduce domestic oil consumption, and include more renewable and clean energy sources to meet economic and environmental requirements,' Gilsdorf predicted.

Faris Saeed, CEO of Diamond Developers, the company behind The Sustainable City, noted that the UAE has been a leader in sustainability since its very beginning. 'The UAE's founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan, had always been a protector and guardian of the environment for the future Emirati generations. The UAE Vision 2021, 2030, and 2071 demonstrate the continuity of the sustainability mindset in the UAE. Sustainability awareness is also becoming more and more widespread in both the public and private sectors. We are also seeing more interest in sustainability and renewable education at schools and universities, which is very encouraging.'

Sharjah Sustainable City, the outcome of a strategic partnership between the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Diamond Developers, is a Dh2 billion project spread across 7.2 million square feet. The smart homes in the city are being built to offer up to 100 per cent savings on electricity bills and a 50 per cent reduction on water bills. The city is powered entirely by renewable energy produced by solar panels, and smart systems will be used to reduce water consumption.

Saeed noted that solar energy will continue to be the predominant source of renewable energy in the UAE due to its location, climate, and abundance of sunshine. 'Other sources of renewable technology also have the potential to grow further such as waste to energy and bio gas.'

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