Environment chiefs in Abu Dhabi have reflected on a year of landmark achievements and laid out a road map for sustainability for years to come.
The Environment Agency Abu Dhabi released its annual report for 2021 on Friday, charting its efforts to preserve biodiversity, combat climate change, monitor quality standards for air, water, sea and soil, and protect wildlife and marine species.
The report highlights the agency's launch of the largest coral reef rehabilitation project in the region last year, which led to the rehabilitation of 1 million pieces of coral reef in the capital.
Another 2021 success story was the release of 150 turtles — the largest regionally — back into their natural habitat, and the announcement of a Marine Conservation and Fisheries Research Vessel, which will study fish stocks and marine biodiversity, considered the most advanced and developed in the Middle East.
Four new species were identified for the first time across the world, with another eight registered for the first time in the Emirates and another eight in Abu Dhabi.
The number of fish sustainably caught in Abu Dhabi’s waters also continued its encouraging surge in 2021.
An index measuring sustainable exploitation ― which is the amount of fishing that does not have a negative impact on marine ecosystems ― rose from 8.9 per cent in 2018 to 62.3 per cent in 2021.
A 22 per cent increase was recorded in number of Arabian Oryx in the reserve in Al Dhafra Region.
Other important work during the course of the year included the monitoring of rare blue holes in the waters of Al Dhafra and 76 falcons being freed to spread their wings in Uzbekistan under the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme.
Last year also saw the launch of the Mangrove Rehabilitation Project’s second phase, using drone-planting technology to sow mangrove seeds, which aims to plant more than 35,000 mangrove seeds in Mirfa lagoon.
Agency looks to the future with optimism
Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed, chairman of the Board of Directors of EAD, said the UAE's Founding Father's commitment to nature had made the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan the country's “first environmentalist".
He pledged the EAD would continue to build on the foundations laid down for them in the decades ahead.
“In line with the vision of our wise leadership, we too at the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi also have a vision for the next 50 years and will continue working, as we develop, at how we can create the perfect balance between the socio-economic growth of Abu Dhabi and conserving the environment for our future generations,” he said.
He spoke of two key developments in 2021 which served to support the country's progressive green agenda.
He hailed the launch of the Net Zero by 2050 initiative by Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.
The plan will mean Dh600 billion being invested in clean and renewable energy sources in the next three decades.
Sheikh Hamdan also praised the country's planned hosting of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change in 2023, known as Cop28.
“We are delighted to see the UAE take a leadership role in the dialogue on climate change on Emirati soil, and we at EAD will play a pivotal role in participating in mitigating this global threat and challenge,” he said.
Mohamed Al Bowardi, vice chairman of EAD, said the agency would continue to play an integral role in the country's development journey and help to safeguard the planet for generations to come.
“At the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi we aim to be part of the UAE’s dynamic future and the year 2021 was an extremely successful one for us at EAD as we are part of the nation’s success,” he said.
“We will always align ourselves with the vision of our government, transforming it into a reality on the ground in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to ensure that we leave for posterity a clean and healthy environment to sustainably enjoy.”