ABU DHABI - The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) recently held a workshop in the presence of representative stakeholders from institutions and government agencies to consult on the Abu Dhabi Biodiversity Protection Policy.
The workshop aimed to present the proposed policy and help organise and promote the sustainable use of biodiversity resources. The longer-term goal is to preserve and develop Abu Dhabi's natural and cultural heritage in line with the UAE's General Environmental Policy issued in 2021.
During the virtual workshop, the policy's objectives and key principles proposed for biodiversity protection were reviewed. Also discussed were the policy's vision and its alignment with national and international goals, and ways to ensure continuity of the vital functions of terrestrial and marine ecosystems – one of the main precursors for human health and well-being.
Ahmed Al Hashemi, Executive Director, Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at EAD, said, "Biodiversity in Abu Dhabi is unique, with more than 3,700 species recorded. To meet the pressures faced by the natural environment, it was necessary to develop a policy in order to respond to the main threats facing local biodiversity and achieve our objectives across the entire Emirate of Abu Dhabi."
He added that the policy focuses on protecting natural habitats, ensuring that new species do not become extinct, while aiming to increase the Urban Biodiversity Index, and the percentage of protected areas in the Emirate.
"By setting a policy for biodiversity in Abu Dhabi, we seek to update and develop the response plans set by the Agency in cooperation with its partners by creating an approved action plan to protect terrestrial and marine habitats. This is required to preserve local wildlife, taking into account the latest evidence provided by The Abu Dhabi Red List of Species and the Abu Dhabi Red List of Ecosystems," Al Hashemi noted.
Al Hashemi indicated that through the policy, Abu Dhabi's actions towards implementing the post-2020 global biodiversity framework will be clarified within the UAE's commitment to the UN Convention on Biological Diversity. The policy will also strengthen communication and cooperation with relevant authorities in both public and private sectors, focusing on the importance of local biodiversity in Abu Dhabi and the principles that must be followed to protect and preserve it for current and future generations.
The workshop was attended by 36 participants from 18 government organisations, including the Department of Municipalities and Transport, the Department of Community Development, the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City, the Municipality of Al Ain, the Municipality of Al Dhafra Region, the Department of Health, Nawah Energy Company, the Department of Culture and Tourism, Musanada, the Department of Economic Development, the UAE University, Zayed University, Abu Dhabi Sewerage Services Company, Abu Dhabi Ports, Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, Abu Dhabi Housing Authority, and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC).
At the end of the workshop, several proposals were received, including a focus on efforts to engage the local community through awareness programmes and environmental volunteer initiatives. Additional proposals include field visits by community champions in each region to promote the value of biodiversity within the local community, and the importance of involving students and youth in environmental preservation through programmes targeting schools and universities.