H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), praised the great support and attention that President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan continually offers to the Agency.
He stated that this significant level of support helped EAD achieve prominent results during the Year of Sustainability in addressing important environmental issues locally and globally, and assisted the Agency in implementing its strategic initiatives and projects as it works towards achieving its vision, mission and goals of preserving the environment and ensuring the sustainability of its natural resources and biological diversity, ensuring a healthy environment for all.
Sheikh Hamdan made the comments as he chaired a meeting of EAD's Board of Directors. Held at the Nakheel Palace, the meeting was conducted in the presence of Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of EAD's Board of Directors; Maryam bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Al Muhairi, Head of the International Affairs Office at the Presidential Court, and Dr Mugheer Khamis Al Khaili, Chairman of the Department of Community Development.
Also in attendance were Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD, Ahmed Matar Al Dhaheri, Director of the Office of the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Dr. Sheikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD.
During the meeting, Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed also praised the important role EAD played in the UAE’s hosting of the Conference of the Parties (COP28) at Expo Dubai towards the end of last year. He noted the Agency’s successful participation in many important initiatives in the field of natural habitat preservation and environmental protection through its participation in more than 170 events.
He added the Agency’s focus on implementing a range of projects and programmes reinforces its commitment to working to confront the repercussions of climate change and its implementation of Abu Dhabi Climate Change Strategy, and achieving the goals of the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.
In addition to building local and global partnerships during the conference – with six cooperation frameworks agreed at COP28 – the Agency also signed 18 memoranda of understanding during the past year in the field of environmental protection and scientific research that will comprehensively address environmental challenges.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed also reviewed the Agency’s preparations to host the 12th session of the World Environmental Education Congress (WEEC) in the UAE from January 28th to February 2nd 2024 at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Center (ADNEC), with 69 countries from around the world set to participate.
Held under the theme ‘Connecting People, Creating Tomorrow’, the event is considered one of the most important global forums that brings together environmental education experts and represents a transformative movement in environmental education for a more sustainable future.
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed praised the results achieved in 50 annual Key Performance Indicators during 2023, covering various environmental sectors, including waste, marine water quality, air quality, soil quality, biodiversity, sustainable fishing and groundwater. The results contributed to EAD winning 17 local and international awards during the year 2023.
The meeting also reviewed the performance of capital projects implemented by EAD during last year, which include the establishment of the Plant Genetic Resource Centre, the sea cages for fish farming in Delma and the seed preservation centre project that will be established in Al Dhafra Region and is considered the first of its kind in the region.
The meeting reviewed the most prominent achievements by EAD in the biodiversity sector, including the achievements achieved by the marine research ship ‘Jaywun’, which is considered the country’s first and the most advanced and developed in the region, as it recently received the Future Fit Seal award, granted by the UAE Government Development and Future Office. Since its launch, the ship has travelled 30,000 kilometres during 4,000 operational hours, during which 2,900 samples were collected. Since its launch, the vessel has recorded 15,000 visitors to date.
Over the past year, the Agency succeeded in avoiding the use of 245 million plastic bags since the ban was introduced in June 2022, which is equivalent to 90 per cent of the plastic bag waste that was consumed before the ban. As part of the ‘Mission to Zero’ campaign, EAD launched a challenge for government organisations to reduce their consumption of single-use plastic materials. The Agency also launched a reverse vending machine initiative, collecting 1,000 tonnes of plastic bottles and installing 70 bottle recovery machines and 26 smart bins in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
As part of the project, EAD is also establishing a “network to monitor odours in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi”, enabling EAD to monitor air pollution and odours, and to follow up on causational factors throughout the emirate. Ten sensors and two mobile stations were installed last year, and 40 additional devices will be installed during 2024.
The Board discussed EAD’s achievements in the field of environmental awareness, following the Agency’s launch of Naha – an interactive digital platform aimed at youth and wider society to enhance environmental participation efforts. Eight hundred and eighty-two users are registered on the e-Green earning platform, which covers 27 educational subjects and is considered the region’s first environmental e-learning tool.
The Agency’s efforts also contributed to a significant increase in the number of schools participating in the Sustainable Schools Initiative (SSI), rising from 84 schools in 2022 to 460 schools in 2023, while the number of universities participating in the Sustainable Campus Initiative (SCI) reached 28 universities.