Climate change is moving faster than “we are”, a regional expert has warned. Laila Mustafa Abdul Latif, director-general at Emirates Nature – WWF, said during a recent trip to Greenland, she was astonished to hear large chunks breaking away from ice sheets and crashing into the oceans close to the poles.
“Crossing the 1.5-degree threshold can unleash far more severe climate change impact. We have seven years left to prevent irreversible climate change,” she said while addressing the Climate Future Week (CFW) that kicked off in Dubai on Tuesday.
At COP21 in 2015, the world agreed to limit global warming to 1.5°C compared to pre-industrial levels by 2050. To remain on target, emissions must be halved by 2030, which means the world has only seven years to get the job done. COP28, which will take place in UAE this year, is an opportunity for the world to rethink, reboot, and refocus the climate agenda.
During another session at the CFW, Najib Saab, secretary-general of the Arab Forum for Environment & Development (AFED), said the region must step up to manage resources.
“It's not only about stopping pollution, but also about a region with limited natural resources,” he said. “We live in a region which has a scarcity in many main resources, especially water and arable land. We also have a harsh environment, fast population growth, and we are extremely sensitive to climate change.”
Najib, whose organisation has been producing annual reports on the state of Arab world for the last 15 years, said the main challenges were water, land degradation, air pollution and sea level rise. “If the Arab world doesn't manage their resources well, then they are in big danger of ecological bankruptcy,” he said.
Taking place at the Museum of the Future (MOTF), the CFW brings together experts and scientists from across various fields for five days of conversations, discussions and dialogue about climate change.
Bringing together plenary sessions, a climate change film festival and a photography exhibition, the CFW focuses on giving a 360-degree view on climate change. “We didn’t want just another event,” said Maitha Mazreoi, head of Programming at the MOTF. “Of course, we wanted experts but also, we wanted stories of the people. So, we have farmers, gardeners, writers, poets and more.”
To reach out to more people, the MOTF team made the event free and open to the public so that more people would engage. According to Maitha, she enjoyed putting the event together despite time constraints and challenges. “The event was brought forward from when it was initially planned,” she said. “But every participant was accommodating and went out of their way (to be here). It showed how much they wanted to talk about the environment. This gives me hope that the world will manage to come together despite all its differences to fight climate change.”
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