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

The country's proactive approach to shaping a better future has made the world sit up and take notice

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park. Pawan Singh / The National
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This column is part of a series of exclusive insights ahead of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, being held from January 11-18, 2020.

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 has shouldered the responsibility of advancing a sustainable development paradigm that leaves no one behind

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