01 SEP 2020

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week: a shining example of the UAE tackling global challenges

In a world dominated by self-interest and an endless chase of quick wins, where quid pro quo is the rule rather than the exception, voluntary acts that are intended to serve the greater good tend to raise eyebrows.

In this context, the UAE’s proactive approach to shaping a better future has made the world sit up and take notice. After all, why would a country that can comfortably rely on its oil revenues deploy clean energy solutions and become an active advocate of sustainability at home and abroad?

The answer is simple. It stems from the values that the founding fathers of the UAE, led by the late Sheikh Zayed, instilled in their people from the early days of the federation. They taught us that working for the benefit of the human race is the ultimate achievement to which anyone can aspire.

Our leadership today upholds this legacy and has shouldered the responsibility of advancing a sustainable development paradigm that leaves no one behind.

One way of doing so is to create platforms that promote sustainability across the board, such as the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).

Over the course of 11 years, ADSW has carved a niche for itself as a dynamic sustainability solution-focused global platform that serves as a springboard for green innovations and mega projects.

Our last event drew a record 38,000 people representing 170 countries, including heads of state, ministers, investors and experts. Commercial projects valued at $11 billion were announced during the week, indicating that ADSW has become one of the world’s largest and most influential sustainability gatherings.

Events such as the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) Assembly, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, the Future Sustainability Summit and the World Future Energy Summit strongly advocate global action towards renewable energy solutions. And through the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, ADSW promotes investments in sustainability ventures and raises awareness about responsible and sustainable production and consumption patterns.

The highlight of the week is the Zayed Sustainability Prize, that invites the world’s most sustainable innovators to compete for a cash prize and honours to translate their environment-friendly concepts into reality. The prize has a solid track record of supporting innovative solutions that have benefited millions over the past decade.

For its part, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment hosts the Climate Innovations Exchange (Clix) every year during ADSW. Clix offers young start-ups and innovators from across the globe a platform to present their solutions to environmental challenges and facilitates partnerships between start-ups and investors. Its inaugural edition last year featured 27 innovations and investors expressed their intent to fund projects to the tune of $17.5 million in the first year. In 2019, the number of innovations surged to 41 and investment intent saw a corresponding increase to $53.9 million.

ADSW presents to the world a shining example of the UAE’s active involvement in tackling the challenges faced by the international community – an approach that reflects the visionary mindset of our leaders.

Recognising that global concerns can only be addressed through concerted action, the UAE has committed to generating the momentum needed to build a sustainable future for all. We invite the world to participate in ADSW 2020 from January 11 to 20, and to join us in empowering humanity to leapfrog into a new era of sustainability.

 

Dr Thani Al Zeyoudi is the UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment

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09 DEC 2021

UAE Leadership in the Energy Transition and Commitment to Net Zero

By Cornelius Matthes, Chief Executive Officer, Dii Desert Energy

With the recent announcement to commit to net-zero by 2050, the UAE once again shows leadership in the energy transition. This is the first gulf state to do so and for a major oil & gas producer, the challenges to reach this objective are of course considerable. The interesting next step to watch is how this translates into a roadmap to execute, particularly for this decade.

Indeed, what will be achieved by this decade counts most, as many effects of climate change will not be possible to reverse. 2030 is the crucial date and the good thing is that the UAE in the past have shown to deliver and even over deliver, e.g. with groundbreaking solar projects at the world's lowest prices. Some of the world’s largest solar parks are already operational today in Dubai and Abu Dhabi, making the UAE one of the global centers of the energy transition.

With COP 28 now to take place in the UAE in 2023, very positive news came out of Glasgow. Again, a lot is expected to happen until then. But most importantly, we saw the other GCC countries like Saudi Arabia and Bahrain actually already followed suit, committing to net zero by 2060 respectively, with Saudi Aramco doing the same by 2050. All really exciting news with hopefully more to come soon, including a clear roadmap for this decade.

Cornelius Matthes
Chief Executive Officer
Dii Desert Energy

 
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08 DEC 2021

Need to Know: World Soil Day

By United Nations

Naturally saline soils may support rich ecosystems, but natural processes such as droughts and human activities, especially improper irrigation, can increase how many salts are in soils, a process that is called salinization. Soil salinization breaks down our soils and reduces their ability to help our food grow.

Soil salinization and sodification are major soil degradation processes threatening ecosystem and are recognized as being among the most important problems at a global level for agricultural production, food security and sustainability in arid and semi-arid regions.

Salt-affected soils have serious impacts on soil functions, such as in the decrease in agricultural productivity, water quality, soil biodiversity, and soil erosion. Salt-affected soils have a decreased ability to act as a buffer and filter against pollutants. Salt-affected soils reduce both the ability of crops to take up water and the availability of micronutrients. They also concentrate ions that are toxic to plants and may degrade the soil structure. It is estimated that there are more than 833 million hectares of salt-affected soils around the globe (8.7 percent of the planet).

World Soil Day 2021 (#WorldSoilDay) and its campaign "Halt soil salinization, boost soil productivity" aims to raise awareness of the importance of maintaining healthy ecosystems and human well-being by addressing the growing challenges in soil management, fighting soil salinization, increasing soil awareness and encouraging societies to improve soil health.

 

About World Soil Day

World Soil Day (WSD), held each year on December 5, is the United Nations Observance that celebrates healthy soils for a food-secure future.

An international day to celebrate Soil was recommended by the International Union of Soil Sciences (IUSS) in 2002. Under the leadership of the Kingdom of Thailand and within the framework of the Global Soil Partnership, the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) has supported the formal establishment of WSD as a global awareness raising platform. The FAO Conference unanimously endorsed World Soil Day in June 2013 and requested its official adoption at the 68th UN General Assembly. In December 2013, the UN General Assembly designated December 5, 2014 as the first official World Soil Day.

Below are 10 key facts about soil:

•  Soil is a living resource, home to more than a quarter (25%) of our planet’s biodiversity.

•  Up to 90% of living organisms live or spent part of their lifecycle in soils, yet we know only 1% of this hidden universe.

•  Soil biodiversity is an essential component of soil health. Healthy soils produces more nutritious and safer food: 95% of our food comes from soils.

•  Soils organisms help soils store carbon and reduce GHG emissions.

•  Soil biodiversity contributes to the remediation of soil pollution by breaking down contaminants.

•  Soils are vast, vital pharmacies, with almost all of the antibiotics that we take to help us fight infections having been made using soil micro-organisms?

•  In just 3 inches of soil, there are 13 quadrillion living organisms, weighing 100 million tonnes.

•  There are more organisms in one gram of healthy soils than there are people on Earth.

•  An earthworm can digest its own weight in soil every 24 hours: 50% of the planet soil passes through the gut of earthworms each year.

•  Soil organisms process 25,000 kg of organic matter in a surface area equivalent to a soccer field, which is the weight of 25 cars.

 
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05 OCT 2021

Need to Know: 10 key facts about World Food Day

By United Nations & the Food and Agriculture Organization

A sustainable agri-food system is one in which a variety of sufficient, nutritious and safe foods is available at an affordable price to everyone, and nobody is hungry or suffers from any form of malnutrition. The shelves are stocked at the local market or food store, but less food is wasted and the food supply chain is more resilient to shocks such as extreme weather, price spikes or pandemics, all while limiting, rather than worsening, environmental degradation or climate change.

In fact, sustainable agri-food systems deliver food security and nutrition for all, without compromising the economic, social and environmental bases, for generations to come. They lead to better production, better nutrition, a better environment and a better life for all.

World Food Day takes place on October 16 , and is one of the most celebrated days of the UN calendar, with hundreds of events and outreach activities taking place across 150 countries. See below for 10 key facts around global food issues.

  • More than 3 billion people (almost 40 percent of the world’s population) cannot afford a healthy diet.
  • Almost 2 billion people are overweight or obese due to a poor diet and sedentary lifestyle.
  • Related healthcare costs could exceed US$1.3 trillion by 2030.
  • The world’s agri-food systems currently employ 1 billion people, more than any other sector.
  • Smallholder farmers produce more than 33 percent of the world’s food.
  • The world’s food systems currently account for more than 33 percent of global anthropogenic greenhouse gas emissions.
  • Approximately 14 percent of food produced for human consumption is lost each year before it reaches the wholesale market, and another 17 percent is wasted at consumer level.
  • 10 percent of people are affected by unsafe food supplies contaminated by bacteria, viruses, parasites or chemical substances.
  • Today, just nine plant species account for 66 percent of total crop production, despite the fact that there are at least 30, 000 edible plants.
  • Our future food systems need to provide affordable and healthy diets for all and decent livelihoods for food system workers, while preserving natural resources and tackling challenges such as climate change.