Sheikh Zayed laid groundwork for environmental protection

40 years of the UAE: Sheikh Zayed, the UAE's founding father, set the stage for Abu Dhabi's environmental sustainability efforts.

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Long before environmental protection and sustainability were the buzz words they are today, Sheikh Zayed, the founding President of the UAE, was creating the framework for Abu Dhabi's green institutions.

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He was interested in modern agriculture and water management from his early days in Government, but observers point to the late 1970s as the start of building environmental institutions here. It all started with the establishment of the National Avian Research Center in Sweihan.

The centre was established with the mission of breeding and releasing into the wild the endangered houbara bustard, inspired by Sheikh Zayed's passion for hunting and wildlife.

"Out of that he found the need to create a special organisation for the environment," said Majid Al Mansouri, a member of the executive committee of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), which currently has the task of managing and protecting the emirate's natural resources.

In 1996, the Environment Research and Wildlife Development Agency was founded. In 2005, it was restructured into EAD, which along with wildlife conservation issues, now also manages pollution control, fisheries, climate change studies, environmental permitting and sustainability.

"What I am amazed at is how Sheikh Zayed's passion for wildlife lead to the formation of full-blown environmental regulation in Abu Dhabi and the UAE," said Razan Al Mubarak, EAD's Secretary General.