Private sector engagement to attain SDGs invaluable: Report

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DUBAI, 18th August, 2019 (WAM) -- Government and private sector collaboration is key to overcoming challenges and driving further sustainable development in the UAE, a report by the Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Authority, FCSA, revealed on Wednesday.

Enitled, 'Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the UAE - Private Sector Contribution', the report, produced in collaboration with Oliver Wyman, noted how sustainable development is a priority agenda topic for countries worldwide, and that in order for governments to succeed in attaining the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals, SDGs, private sector engagement is an "invaluable" measure to achieve visions and goals.

According to the report, the UAE's development priorities are aligned with the concept of global sustainable development. Along with its 'UAE Vision 2021' and 'UAE Centennial 2071', the country formed the National Committee on SDGs in 2017, facilitating the SDG's prioritisation, alignment and integration, as well as monitoring and reporting on developments throughout the UAE. A year later, the committee launched two advisory councils that act as sounding boards for future policy development.

Of the two councils, the report noted the Private Sector Advisory Council, PSAC, which provides a platform for regular dialogue between the private sector and the National Committee on SDGs, engaging in UAE-specific thematic priorities related to UN SDGs.

Abdullah Lootah, FCSA Director-General and Vice Chair of the National Committee on SDGs, said that the "UAE seeks to respond to the ongoing transformation of a world economy that is increasingly placing a premium on sustainable development and on securing a better future for all."

The report went on to highlight the current state of SDGs in the UAE, noting that the UAE ranks 60th among 156 countries in terms of achieving SDGs. The report quoted the 2018 SDGs Index and Dashboards Report as saying that the UAE improved 17 ranks compared to 2017, and in 2018 achieved an index score of 69, meaning that it is 69 percent of the way to achieving the best outcome across SDGs.

Highlighting the country's strongest SDGs, the report notes the UAE scored 100 percent in SDG1, which calls for an end to poverty in all its manifestations by 2030. The FCSA report said that the country does not face challenges from poverty, and that it "supports the implementation of SDG 1 at an international level through humanitarian work via different aid agencies" such as the Emirates Red Crescent, ERC.

As for SDG 16 on peace, justice and strong institutions, the UAE scored 93 percent, because "of its high government efficiency, established property rights, and 100 percent rate of child registration," the report added. It went on to highlight the UAE's efforts in achieving SDG 17, which calls to strengthen the means of implementation and revitalise the global partnership for sustainable development, noting that in 2018 the UAE maintained its ranks as the world's largest donor of ODA for the fifth consecutive year.

The report also went to highlight the UAE's "fastest areas of progress", noting that the country's efforts to achieve SDG 11 on sustainable cities and communities and SDG 15 concerning life on land. According to the private sector contribution report, the UAE improved its SDG 11 and SDG 15 scores by 117 percent and 97 percent respectively.

It went on to stress that to rank among the top-10 countries in the SDG Index, "the UAE will need to improve its overall score by 10 basis points to reach 80 percent."

The report said that such progress could be attained by 2023, by ensuring an annual improvement of 10 percent in the SDGs in which the UAE scores below 50 percent. These include, SDG 6 (clean water), SDG 12 (responsible consumption and production) and SDG 13 (climate action).

'Achieving the Sustainable Development Goals in the UAE' went on to highlight case studies of countries - Singapore, Malta, Indonesia, Luxembourg, South Korea, and Bahrain - demonstrating progress in water sustainability, sustainable consumption and production, and climate action. It went on to recommend seven key lessons learnt for the UAE public and private sector collaboration to ensure progress. The lessons include shared responsibility, establishing effective governance and processes, data collection and reporting, enabling infrastructure, deploying cutting-edge technology, increasing awareness and international collaboration.

Some major UAE private sector players have played an impact on attaining SDGs, the report revealed. Emaar Group, for example, was able to promote responsible usage of water resources via its water management programme launched in 2016. According to the report, Emaar aims to obtain a 20 percent reduction in water consumption by 2021, noting that in 2018 Emaar's water savings filled over 44 Olympic pools.

First Abu Dhabi Bank was also highlighted in the report, among other private sector contributors, noting the bank's corporate sustainability initiatives, including the financing of two solar plants that will offset over seven million tons of carbon annually.

Joint campaigns, data sharing and communication were among the key recommendations to address key challenges faced by the report, which concluded that the UAE is keen on enabling an environment where private sector companies are provided with the necessary information, guidance, regulations and infrastructure, to carry out initiatives for the overall sustainable development of the country and the world.

WAM/Nour Salman/Tariq alfaham