UAE among the first countries in region to prioritise environmental protection, climate change: Mohammed bin Rashid

UAE among the first countries in region to prioritise environmental protection, climate change: Mohammed bin Rashid
UAE among the first countries in region to prioritise environmental protection, climate change: Mohammed bin Rashid

(WAM) — His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, said, “The UAE is among the first countries in the region to prioritise environmental protection and climate change, by adopting green policies and launching leading initiatives in this vital sector.”

“Plans that protect ecosystems must be strengthened, and we must preserve our resources, reinforce biodiversity and achieve the highest levels of productivity,” he added.

His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid made this statement during a meeting with a team from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment to discuss the ministry’s strategy, as part of a comprehensive government action plan for the post-COVID-19 era, which was attended by H.H. Sheikh Mansour bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Presidential Affair, and Mohammed bin Abdullah Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs.

“Increasing food diversity, ensuring the safety of food products and achieving local self-sufficiency should be prioritised by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment for the post-COVID-19 period. Local food products should be supported as a key element in the food security system and a contributor to the consolidation of the sustainable development process,” His Highness Sheikh Mohammed stated.

“The green economy will be among the vital industries in the country, and it is necessary while drafting our future plans to combine protecting the environment, achieving economic sustainability and ensuring community prosperity. Our mission is to smartly invest in our natural resources and protect the environment,” he added.

“We must expand our regional and international partnership networks based on a joint vision aimed at reducing the economic and social effects of climate change, preserving the planet’s resources, and diversifying sources of energy,” he further added, noting that the global coronavirus crisis has taught everyone that countries share one fate and one future, and, therefore, cannot work alone to protect the planet.

Dr. Abdullah bin Mohammed Belhaif Al Nuaimi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, presented the ministry’s future strategy and the key portfolios it plans to address while praising the efforts of the UAE’s leadership and its keenness to support national institutions and cadres in achieving overall sustainable development.

The ministry is working according to a joint methodology with all relevant authorities in both the public and private sectors to achieve the country’s relevant strategic objectives, he explained, noting that the ministry is aware of the importance of developing a sector characterised by flexibility and the capacity to fulfil the needs of the community, by benefitting from knowledge, technologies and good practices.

“Despite the challenges faced by the country’s food production sector, including climate change and limited water resources, we are confident that utilising advanced technologies and good practices will enable us to overcome these issues and create better development opportunities,” he said.

“Upon the directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed, we conducted a series of field visits, in cooperation with our partners from local departments, to border ports and food laboratories, as well as to farmers and fishermen, to explore the challenges faced by the food production sector and assess opportunities for improvements, as well as to reinforce our plans and efforts aimed at promoting local food products, ensuring their safety and supporting farmers and fishermen,” he added.

“During our visits to many farms around the country, we witnessed advanced and sustainable agricultural practices and high-quality products, which is promising in terms of our capacity to develop this sector and reinforce the competitiveness of our local products,” he further added.

“Part of the ministry’s future strategy is to ensure food diversity and local self-sufficiency according to highest standards of safety and security, as well as to enhance the country’s competitiveness and promote its food products, to consolidate its position as a key centre of the commercial food trade,” Al Nuaimi further said.

He also pointed out that the ministry is cooperating with its partners to achieve sustainable local production enabled by technology for the entire value chain, by supporting and marketing local agricultural products, advancing the capacities of producers and reinforcing their ties with sales outlets, supporting programmes aimed at encouraging small and medium-sized enterprises, SME, attracting more investments, and encouraging the involvement of the private sector in food production.

The UAE has a wide variety of wildlife and marine life and has numerous ecosystems, Al Nuaimi stressed, noting that preserving biodiversity and protecting endangered species are some of the country’s top environmental priorities, so, therefore, the ministry drafted a national biodiversity strategy and the “UAE Smart Map of Natural Capital,” as well as identified alien and invasive species that threaten local biodiversity.

During his presentation, Al Nuaimi explained that the marine environment is among the most important and richest natural systems on economic and environmental levels, adding that the ministry has accomplished many related achievements, including the launch of the National Climate Change Plan, which is the first of its kind in the region. He also spoke about a federal draft law on climate change and a national programme to counter climate change.

Air quality is also a priority of the UAE, due to its health, economic and environmental effects, he further said, stressing that the UAE began monitoring air quality in 2007 through 54 monitoring stations located around the country.

He then addressed the waste management issue, stating that the ministry is currently focussing on reducing waste generation and converting waste into an economic resource, through recycling and conversion into energy.

“We aim to raise the percentage of treated municipal solid waste to 75 percent,” he said in conclusion.