DUBAI, The UAE celebrates the 22nd National Environment Day, observed annually on February 4th, under the theme "Sustainable Production and Consumption" for the third consecutive year to continue efforts to promote sustainable production and consumption patterns in the UAE.
In a statement marking the occasion, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, expressed his deepest gratitude to the UAE President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his patronage of the National Environment Day, and his continued support for environmental protection and sustainable development in the UAE.
He also thanked His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, and Members of the Federal Supreme Council, Their Highnesses the Rulers of the Emirates, for their special interest in the country's efforts to preserve the environment.
He said: "Celebrating the National Environment Day in the Year of Tolerance adds considerable value to the occasion. The principle of tolerance is not restricted to human interaction and includes in its scope the peaceful coexistence between people and their surrounding environment. To ensure we live in harmony with the environment, we must follow the steps of the founding father of the UAE,the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, in embracing wholeheartedly sustainable production and consumption patterns."
He added: "Before sustainable development was mainstreamed, Sheikh Zayed knew the importance of using environmental resources sustainably on everyday basis and preserving them for future generations. He realized that unsustainable consumption patterns amplify the existing environmental challenges."
Dr Al Zeyoudi indicated that population growth and a surge in income levels due to the economic boom the UAE witnessed in the past four decades have given rise to unsustainable production and consumption patterns. These are among the main challenges the UAE faces in its efforts to conserve its resources and ecosystems today. Their negative impact is apparent in many areas, such as high ecological footprint per capita, high water, energy and food consumption rates, as well as high waste production and carbon emissions rate.
Dr Al Zeyoudi added: "To address these challenges, the UAE has implemented multiple policies and measures to promote sustainability of production and consumption. Most notably, the UAE has set ambitious clean energy targets of 27 percent by 2021 and 50 percent by 2050. Other policies include the UAE Green Growth Strategy that focuses on transforming our national economy into a low-carbon green economy. This includes adopting a sustainable approach to architecture and transport, enhancing the efficiency of resource consumption, especially energy and water. And raising public awareness of the economic, social and environmental risks of unsustainable production and consumption is also an integral part of the country's efforts to reduce its ecological footprint."
The Minister stressed that although it is too soon to see the full impact of the policies and measures, there are many signs that testify to their efficiency. There is a significant decrease in per capita waste generation rate, from 2.06kg to 1.8kg per person per day, and the country's ecological footprint per capita also decreased from about 12 global hectares in 2006 to less than 8 global hectares in 2014. In addition, there is a wide-spread interest from the public sector to adopt and invest in sustainability solutions.
He added: "In the UAE, we believe that sustainable production and consumption is an essential part of national responsibility for institutions and individuals alike. The consumer society is increasingly gaining importance in this regard, as it dictates production trends and influences producer responsibility. Ultimately, consumption is an individual choice that depends on a combination of factors, such as desire � often influenced by advertising, purchasing power and awareness. As for government authorities, we continue to work relentlessly towards reducing the negative effects of production and consumption patterns and transforming them to sustainable ones that contribute to realizing sustainable development in the country, in line with UAE Vision 2021."
Dr Al Zeyoudi concluded: "I urge people to consider our natural resources as a national heritage that we live with today and later pass on to future generations. We are confident that the collaboration between the government and the corporate and civic communities will have a substantial influence on stimulating more sustainable production and consumption patterns."
Source: Emirates News Agency