The UAE's environment minister has urged international leaders not to neglect the threat posed by climate change as they seek to revive economies hit hard by the Covid-19 pandemic.
Abdullah Al Nuaimi, who was appointed Minister of Climate Change and Environment following a Cabinet reshuffle last month, stressed the importance of safeguarding natural resources during challenging times.
Mr Al Nuaimi delivered the key message during an environmental conference in Bahrain addressing the effects of Covid-19 across West Asia.
The conference was organised by the regional office of the UN Environment Programme (Unep).
It aimed to assess the effects of the pandemic on the region and develop policies to drive a sustainable recovery.
"Covid-19 has triggered an economic downturn on a global scale," said Mr Al Nuaimi.
"Countries around the world are currently shaping their recovery plans, and we urge them to align their post-Covid-19 economic activities with the environmental protection priority, because climate change still is the most important existential threat to humanity.
"Any plans of economic recovery must factor in the green economy as its cornerstone."
He said the public health crisis had highlighted weaknesses in global food supply chains.
"For that reason, food security and safety are now at the forefront of the UAE’s priorities and a key focus area for the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment," he said.
Mr Al Nuaimi said green policies remain central to the UAE's vision for the future, citing the launch of the Arab world's first nuclear power plant, Barakah, along with the country's solar power strategy.
"The UAE stayed on course and maintained the timeline of projects that increase the share of clean energy in the mix," he said.
"These projects include awarding the contract of the 2gw solar plant project in Abu Dhabi to a consortium, and the milestone induction of the first peaceful nuclear reactor in the Arab world."
Delegates at the meeting included Dr Mohammed bin Daina, vice president of the UN Environment Assembly and chief executive of the Supreme Council for Environment in Bahrain, Inger Andersen, undersecretary general and executive director of Unep, and Sami Dimassi, director and regional representative of the agency's West Asia Office.