Setting an example
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It is ironic that some of the largest contributors to environmental degradation continue to live in denial mode.
Even as Rio+20 Summit took centrestage, debates on sustainable development were haunted by the report of a group of scientists who had earlier in the year presented theories on why the caution against climate change is too much ado, arguing that the planet is not warming.
So it has been with Rio+20. The global meeting, aimed at resolving differences that continue to be unaddressed even after two decades, left few happy. While the global leaders agreed on the need to eradicate poverty and restore the health of the environment, in the face of national interests taking an upper hand, a clear policy for sustainable growth still seems a distant reality.
Perhaps it is in this context that the level of global engagement achieved by the UAE delegation at Rio+20 attains significance. Addressing the Summit, Shaikha Lubna Al Qasimi, UAE Minister of Foreign Trade, was unequivocal on the importance that the nation places on sustainable development.
She presented compelling proof-points on how the UAE has set a clear roadmap towards a sustainable future, and underlined the country’s support to the process of developing Sustainable Development Goals that complement the Millennium Development Goals.
The UAE has also welcomed the formal recognition of the Sustainable Energy for All Initiative, the realisation on the important role that education and empowerment plays in promoting sustainable development, and the attention being placed on water issues.
To further engage the global community on issues of relevance, the UAE will host the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week one of the most comprehensive global forums on sustainable development. The ADSW will feature the Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency; the World Future Energy Summit; the International Renewable Energy Conference in Abu Dhabi; the International Water Summit and the Awards Ceremony for the Zayed Future Energy Prize. At Rio+20 Summit, the UAE also signed an agreement to convert the Global Green Growth Institute into an international organisation with 17 members, with an office in Abu Dhabi.
The thought leadership demonstrated by the UAE in powering the sustainability dialogue is a matter of pride. That a young nation can put forth tangible recommendations to support the global community is in itself an achievement. Even more commendable is the clear policies and tangible action that the UAE undertakes proving that as a nation, we talk the talk and walk the walk.