The UAE has a very practical approach towards sustainability, according to Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change. The minister commended country leaders for forging a new approach towards sustainability. “What distinguishes the UAE is that our approach is rooted in reality and is practical. We are an economy based on oil. However, we are no longer fully dependent on oil, thanks to the vision of our leaders.”
She was addressing a group of delegates at the 12th edition of the International Government Communication Forum (IGCF) that began on September 13 at the Sharjah Expo Center in the presence of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad AlQasimi, Member of the Supreme Council and Ruler of Sharjah.
Almheiri pointed out how UAE has become a leader in solar energy. “The UAE will triple the production of solar energy by 2030. We intend to increase it to six times of what it is now in the coming years.”
According to a recent report published by the Energy Institute Statistical Review of World Energy, the UAE has been ranked amongst the top world leaders in solar energy use.
She asked people to be environmentally conscious in all their important decisions. “I call upon you all to adopt sustainability as your lifestyle,” she said, speaking in Sharjah on Wednesday. “Sustainability should be the guide to choosing what to eat, wear and study.”
According to Almheiri, the visionary moves of UAE leaders have set the country on the path to an environmentally friendly future. “The Al Barakah nuclear plant will be completed soon, and it will reduce carbon emissions by 21 million tonnes annually,” she said. “The UAE is the first country in the region to sign the Paris agreement.”
She added that the leaders also realise that sustainability is a joint responsibility. “Four billion dollars have been invested in Africa for renewable energy,” she said. “The UAE has also invested Dh13 billion in smart farming to help fight global hunger. We are spearheading the Mangroves Alliance for Climate in partnership with Indonesia to promote mangroves as a nature-based solution to climate change.”
She also explained how the UAE is in the process of creating the world’s largest artificial reef off the east coast of Fujairah, spread over 300,000sq m. The country is also protecting biological diversity and working to preserve and protect 1500 endangered species, including houbara birds, falcons and the oryx.
Almheiri stressed that ensuring food security was an important factor of sustainability. “I will never forget the feeling I had when the His Highness (Sheikh Sultan) gave me a handful of wheat harvested here,” she said. “This was a project in an arid area, and see the harvest come to fruition was an unforgettable experience.”
In March this year, farmers harvested their first wheat produce at a 400-hectare farm in Sharjah. Free of harmful chemicals, pesticides and genetically modified seeds, the wheat grown in the UAE had the highest percentage of protein as compared to wheat in other parts of the world.
“We are also harvesting fish, fruits and vegetables, all of which are distinguished by the harvest quality,” she said.
Almheiri added that the country was ready for the COP28. “More that 140 international leaders will attend the event that will see more than 70,000 guests,” she said. “It is going to be a significant event because we will make plans to protect the earth through some concrete steps.”
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