Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week to push climate change to top of national agenda

Abu Dhabi will attract hundreds of global leaders and diplomats to discuss the most pressing environmental concerns facing the planet

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A call to arms from global leaders to get behind sustainability goals and turn the tide against climate change will feature strongly in Abu Dhabi next week.

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which starts on Sunday, will focus this year on youth, with students and young professionals offered opportunities to achieve the nation’s environmental goals.

Commercial projects worth US$15 billion (Dh55b) were announced during last year's Sustainability Week, attended by 175 nations and more than 38,000 visitors.

Events in 2019 will take place across the capital at Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre and Masdar City.

“Accelerating renewable energy deployment is central to sustainable development and represents the most cost-effective, economically attractive and socially beneficial path to meeting our climate objectives,” said Adnan Z Amin, director-general of the International Renewable Energy Agency.

The US's withdrawal from the 2015 Paris Agreement on climate change dealt a hammer blow to global sustainability targets.

That has forced other nations to increase efforts to achieve successful environmental programmes, particularly those likely to be heavily impacted by increasing average temperatures like the UAE.

According to the IRENA report Global Energy Transformation: A Roadmap to 2050, renewable energy needs to be scaled up at least six times faster for the world to start meeting the goals set out in the agreement.

“Sustainability is one of the main pillars of our strategy aimed at optimising the contribution of our natural resources to the energy supply in the UAE,” said Mohammad Juma Bin Jarsh Al Falasi, undersecretary of the Department of Energy, Abu Dhabi.

This year, the Youth 4 Sustainability Hub will educate young entrepreneurs about the wide ranging opportunities offered in the renewable energy industry.

Mentoring programme Future Skills 2030 will partner young people with industry experts to improve sustainability skills and offer new careers.

“More and more industries, including many youthful start-ups, are committing themselves to taking action on sustainability, enabled by the transformative potential of digital technology,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, chief executive of Masdar.

“Only by making a commitment, together, can we realise tangible progress on mitigating climate change.”


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Another new addition is the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, focusing on increasing the adoption of sustainable financing for activities with positive economic, social and environmental impacts.

Projects due to be profiled next week include a process that cost-effectively transforms wood chips and bio-crops into a clean, renewable coal substitute.

Other innovations are an efficient process to use industrial waste heat as a power source, energy producing vegetable oils and antimicrobials and widespread community water refill stations to reduce plastic use.

From Monday, the Eco-Waste Forum will present From Waste to Art, an exhibition of artworks made of recycled waste by Greek artist Nikos Floros.

The forum will also feature a dedicated corner for universities to introduce their innovations in waste recycling.

A week of environmentally focused events ends with the two-day Festival at Masdar City on January 18-19.