The Emirati delegation participating in a high-level political forum on the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), held at the United Nations (UN) headquarters in New York, has presented the UAE’s second voluntary national review report, which included a briefing on the country's local and international efforts to accelerate the achievement of the Sustainable Development Goals.

Reem bint Ibrahim Al Hashemy, Minister of State for International Cooperation and Chairperson of the National Committee on SDGs, said the UAE, guided by the vision of its wise leadership, is enhancing its stature as an effective player in achieving the Sustainable Development Goals through joint action and cooperation with other countries, adding that its voluntary national review report underscores its efforts to promote local and international strategic partnerships.

"The UAE's commitment to playing a leading international role was proven during the COVID-19 pandemic, when it accelerated its efforts to provide medical aid, vaccines and logistical support," she said.

The vision of the UAE’s leadership, which prioritises global partnerships, was demonstrated by hosting 11 sustainability weeks during Expo 2020 Dubai, the global event which witnessed unprecedented success with the gathering of over 192 countries in a smart, sustainable and multi-cultural city, receiving over 24 million visitors.

Lana Zaki Nusseibeh, Assistant Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation for Political Affairs and Permanent Representative of the UAE to the UN, highlighted the UAE’s critical and influential international role in promoting the SDGs, through the partnerships and projects it has launched worldwide.

She also pointed out that the UAE has adopted the principles of regional and global partnerships and cooperation in its global efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, especially as international communities have cooperated to ensure their recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic.

"Health diplomacy over the two past years has become a foreign policy priority. Since 2020, the UAE has provided vaccines and medical and food aid to other countries, through partnerships with the World Health Organisation (WHO) and the World Food Programme (WFP)," she said.

Abdullah Nasser Lootah, Director-General of the Prime Minister's Office at the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and Deputy Chairman of the National Committee on SDGs, presented the UAE’s second voluntary national review report at the annual UN forum.

He began by explaining the key initiatives and policies aimed at achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the UAE and the rest of the world.

"What differentiates our meeting today is the fact that it is being held at the UN headquarters, presenting to the world the UAE’s contributions to supporting the national and international efforts to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, by highlighting the key policies and initiatives carried out both locally and globally," he said, stressing that the global partnerships launched by the UAE to help communities and countries around the world, as well as the international education, aid and logistical programmes it launched throughout the COVID-19 pandemic, including those aimed at eradicating hunger, addressing poverty, providing adequate health and ensuring good education, are in line with the Sustainable Development Goals.

The report also addressed the work of the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs, which includes 15 federal authorities, as well as the key role of the government’s strategic partners in policy making in the area of sustainability, along with the work of various advisory councils, including the Private Sector Advisory Council on Sustainable Development Goals, which links the public and private sectors and supports their efforts to draft policies and launch private initiatives.

The report also addressed the establishment of the Global Councils on Sustainable Development Goals, which is a multi-specialist international network that includes over 200 experts and decision-makers and aims to ensure the implementation of Sustainable Development Goals. This entity suggests policies and projects those that will help achieve the SDGs in the UAE and throughout the world. The report also addressed the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), a major annual event that promotes global sustainability and gathers leaders and decision-makers from 170 countries.

Additionally, the report addressed the country’s climate action efforts, as part of the UAE Net-Zero 2050 strategic initiative launched in 2021, which aims to reach zero emissions by 2050. The UAE is the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region to launch such an initiative, and has widely invested in renewable energy solutions worldwide.

The report highlighted several national and international projects and initiatives that promote the Sustainable Development Goals in human communities, including the launch of the "UN Big Data Platform on SDGs," which meets the needs of the Middle East and North Africa region and strengthens the role of the UAE as a global technology and data hub serving Sustainable Development Goals. In terms of SDG 4, the report pointed out that the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives launched the Digital School project, which aims to empower deprived and vulnerable communities by registering 1 million students worldwide by 2025.

The report highlighted the UAE’s leadership in gender balance, as it considers women’s empowerment a national priority, in addition to highlighting the country’s blue economy strategy.

Saeed Mohammad Al Eter Al Dhanhani, Chairman of the UAE Government Media Office and Assistant Secretary-General of the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives, said the UAE Government, upon the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, is keen to lead the world in launching initiatives that serve human communities and enable them to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Global Initiatives has allocated AED7 billion for humanitarian action over the past five years, he added, noting that during this period, humanitarian aid accounted for AED2.1 billion, making a positive change to the lives of 91 million people in 97 countries.

"Over 22 million students participated in this year’s edition of the Arab Reading Challenge. At the Digital School, its overall spending amounted to AED253 million in 2021, benefitting over 48.4 million people around the world, due to the belief of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, that shaping a better future lies in drafting strategic plans based on science and knowledge, with clear and accurate objectives," Al Dhanhani said.

In terms of health and medical aid, the Noor Dubai Foundation’s spending on dozens of medical initiatives amounted to AED51.2 million in 2021, while in terms of community empowerment, nearly AED88.7 million was spent to benefit some 2.1 million people, he added.