Has UAE always been an early adopter of sustainable practices?
English scholar and economist Thomas Malthus in the late 1790s raised warnings through an essay against population and economic growth outstripping the resources available to humankind, making us immensely susceptible to a resource-strapped future where fewer resources and rising commodity costs will compromise the quality of life.
The essay played a key role in bringing sustainable economic development under the limelight. But, according to Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, the Permanent Representative of the UAE to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), it wasn’t until the 1980s that the term “sustainability” entered the discourse of business.
Moreover, the UN Sustainable Development Goals were not adopted until 2015.
However, in 2023, thanks to the commendable work of a handful of people, the concept of sustainability is integral to everyday life.
Sustainable practices have always been at the heart of the Emirates’ development plans. “2023 is the Year Of Sustainability in the UAE,” President Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan announced last month, adding “as host of COP28”, the nation “will continue to support action and innovation in the field of sustainability.”
In the Middle East, the Emirates is the first country to sign and ratify the landmark 2015 Paris Agreement, and also the first to announce a Net Zero by 2050 Strategic Initiative. The country is now home to three of the world’s largest and lowest-cost solar plants.
The UAE’s reputation as a responsible and trusted international partner to countries across the world, and substantial investments in renewable energy projects and active involvement in major sustainability initiatives, both domestically and overseas, underscore the significance of hosting the climate talks in the country.