DUBAI, 3nd February, 2017 (WAM)--Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, has issued a statement on the occasion of 20th National Environment Day, which is observed annually on February 4.
He thanked the UAE leadership for taking special interest in the country’s efforts to preserve the environment.
"The UAE has implemented a wide variety of policies and measures to promote sustainability of production and consumption to maximise our contribution to the global efforts to achieve sustainable development, Dr. Al Zeyoudi said.
Following is the full text of the statement:
On the occasion of the 20th National Environment Day that is being held this year under the theme ‘Sustainable Production and Consumption’, I express my profound gratitude to the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his patronage of the National Environment Day, and his continued support for environmental protection and sustainable development in the UAE.
I also thank Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Members of the Federal Supreme Council, Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates for their special interest in the country’s efforts to preserve the environment.
The production and consumption patterns have been gaining massive importance on the national and global levels. Irrational production and consumption of resources over the past decades are among the main reasons behind environmental degradation in today's world. These factors have caused or contributed to the escalation of several environmental problems, most notably climate change. The success of the drive for sustainable development depends to a large extent on transforming the current production and consumption patterns to sustainable ones.
This topic garnered international attention with the emergence of the first negative effects on public health, resources and ecosystems. Since then, international climate conferences have repeatedly stressed the need for sustainable production and consumption.
As early as 1992, the United Nations Conference on Environment and Development in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, held production patterns under systematic scrutiny. Following up on its efforts were the World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, South Africa, in 2002 and the United Nations Conference on Sustainable Development (Rio+20) in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, in 2012. Responsible consumption and production is Goal 12 of the 17 UN Sustainable Development Goals, adopted in September 2015.
Population growth and a surge in income levels due to the economic boom the UAE witnessed in the past four decades have given rise to non-sustainable production and consumption patterns. These are among the main challenges we face in our efforts to conserve our resources and ecosystems today. Their negative impact is apparent in many areas, such as high ecological footprint per capita, high water, energy and food consumption rate, as well as high waste production and carbon emissions rate.
In the recent past, the UAE has implemented a wide variety of policies and measures to promote sustainability of production and consumption to maximize our contribution to the global efforts to achieve sustainable development.
The most prominent among them is the UAE Energy Strategy for 2050 that aims to diversify the country’s energy sources. Its objectives involve bringing the share of clean energy in the national energy mix up to half by 2050, increasing energy efficiency at institutional and individual levels by 40 percent, and reducing greenhouse gas emissions related to energy production by 70 percent.
Other policies include the UAE Green Growth Strategy that focuses on transforming our national economy into a low-carbon green economy. This includes adopting a sustainable approach to architecture and transport, enhancing the efficiency of resource consumption, especially energy and water, as well as implementing carbon capture and storage (CCS) technologies. Applying climate-smart agricultural practices, preserving biodiversity, and raising awareness on the economic, social and environmental risks of non-sustainable production and consumption are also integral parts of the strategy.
The National Innovation Strategy and the UAE Strategy for the Future will significantly enhance our ability to adopt sustainable production and consumption patterns.
Although it is too soon for us to see the full impact of the policies and measures, there are many signs that testify to their efficiency, especially at the production level. For example, the country’s ecological footprint per capita decreased from about 12 global hectares in 2006 to less than 8 global hectares in 2014, while its carbon footprint went from about nine global hectares to less than six global hectares during the same period. Even though electricity and water consumption has gone up in the past few years, the increase is consistent with the growth of the economy and population.
In addition, the private sector is showing increasing interest in adopting sustainability measures and investing in sustainable projects. Further indications include the expansion of the recycling industry and higher awareness of sustainability issues across the country.
As a government, we continue to work relentlessly towards reducing the negative effects of production and consumption through keeping the balance between growth and preservation of resources and providing high-quality healthy and environment-friendly products. However, if excessive consumption of our resources continues, our efforts to achieve sustainable development may hit an obstacle that will be very difficult to surmount.
In the UAE, we believe that sustainable production and consumption is an essential part of national responsibility for institutions and individuals alike. The consumer society is increasingly gaining importance in this regard, as it dictates production trends and influences producer responsibility. Ultimately, consumption is an individual choice that depends on a combination of factors, such as desire – often influenced by advertising, purchasing power and awareness.
I hope that the National Environment Day will inspire fundamental changes among members of society, both in attitudes and in behavior. In closing, I want to reassure each and every one of you that responsible and rational consumption does not diminish economic and social well-being in any way. Rather, making sustainability a way of life can add to enhancing the quality of life on our planet.