Private sector companies discuss sustainability at Dubai seminar

Fifty representatives of private companies gather in Dubai for a seminar on sustainability reporting.

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DUBAI // Fifty representatives of private companies from across the UAE gathered in Dubai last week for a seminar on sustainability reporting.

The event was held at the offices of Dubai Customs and organised by the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG). The seminar was organised in association with the UN Global Compact, an organisation which encourages the private sector to adopt sustainability practices, for which the EEG is the focal point in the region.

A total of 87 companies from the GCC are members of the UN GlobalCompact and of those, 43 are from the UAE, said Habiba Al Marashi, chairperson of the EEG. To be members, companies must take voluntary actions to improve performance in areas such as the environment and employee rights, and must also evaluate and report their performance on an annual basis.

"It is a genuine responsibility and commitment," said Mrs Al Marashi. "It is not something that should be taken lightly."

For companies, participation in the scheme means "you have reached a level of maturity that you want to do more than the law requires you to do", she said.

While the scheme can help companies improve their performance and measure their progress against others, it also gives businesses prestige and credibility, allowing them to stand among the world's most trusted private companies.

Delegates at the seminar heard from representatives of UAE-based water technologies company, Metito, and from Dubai Customs, which released its sustainability report for 2012. Dubai Customs' water and energy consumption for the year cost Dh1.38 million and Dh6.5million respectively. It has taken up recycling and various community initiatives, according to its report.

Among the participants was Sandrine Le Biavant, division manager - consulting at facilities management company, Farnek, who said she and a colleague had found the workshop valuable.

"We wanted to learn more about best practices and how to implement them," she said. "It was very useful...I learned a lot."