Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi issues its latest annual report

ABU DHABI, 17th April, 2023 (WAM) -- The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has issued its 2022 Annual Report, highlighting the Agency’s key achievements.

For the fourth consecutive year, the report was issued digitally and showcased how EAD fulfils its mandate of protecting Abu Dhabi’s environment to create a sustainable future for upcoming generations. As part of its mission, the Agency monitors and conserves land, water, and air quality, encourages the safeguarding of natural resources, as well to the mitigation of climate change and all its disastrous effects.

In the foreword of the report, H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of EAD, said, “In 2022, EAD asserted its leadership and succeeded in strengthening the national and global position of Abu Dhabi and its active role in preserving the environment and protecting species. The Agency's programmes were shortlisted by the United Nations Environment Programme on its list of top ten global initiatives to restore and rehabilitate environmental eco-systems, further reinforcing the uniqueness and distinction of our ambitious environmental programmes and initiatives that have become worldwide models of excellence."

Positive climate action

Sheikh Hamdan added, “It was also a decisive year of positive climate action, during which EAD intensified its efforts to support the vision and aspirations of the UAE government, and, thanks to its pioneering leadership role in Abu Dhabi, reduced the effects of climate change which further contributes to achieving the goals of the strategic climate neutrality by 2050 initiative.”

He further stated, “In 2022, EAD strengthened cooperation with relevant partners at the national and local levels across both the government and private sectors, with the aims of preserving the environment, combatting climate change, developing clear plans to reduce emissions for specific sectors, reducing pollutants, and monitoring air quality in inaccessible areas of concern. Those efforts included the preparation of a comprehensive policy aimed at reducing greenhouse gas emissions and enhancing the flexibility of adaptation to climate change in Abu Dhabi – taking into account social, economic, and cultural incentives – while achieving a balance between the needs of society and preserving the environment”.

He concluded, “Thanks to a specialised team of climate action experts and elite negotiators, the Agency was able to play an effective role during its participation at COP27, highlighting the pioneering efforts led by Abu Dhabi in fighting climate change, in addition to sharing knowledge with organisations and experts from all over the world to achieve positive results during the conference. Our participation also enhanced our knowledge of international best practices in the implementation of climate mitigation actions and helped us learn from other countries experiences while sharing our own experiences in this field – all of which will enable us to achieve the forward-looking vision of our wise leadership and ensure our country’s readiness to host COP28 in 2023.”

Exemplary projects

Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of EAD, said in the foreword of the report, “The year 2022 was marked by several achievements that helped realise EAD's vision, as it was full of exemplary projects that laid the foundations for achieving even greater success. During the first quarter of the year, we launched the Environmental Centennial 2071 – a comprehensive, joint environmental vision for Abu Dhabi over the next 50 years. The vision reflects our commitment to becoming the pre-eminent environmental preservation organisation, and confirms our sustainability leadership, which has long been recognised around the world. The Environmental Centennial was inspired by the UAE Centennial 2071 initiative, which aspires to make the UAE the best country in the world by the 100th anniversary of the Union’s founding. And we at EAD will work around the clock to ensure the realisation of this ambitious goal.”

He elaborated, “We have already begun to take decisive and tangible steps to implement projects in support of Environmental Centennial 2071, and we have a dedicated team to ensure that we are advancing the strategic goals set out in this vision. We are moving in the right direction and are well on track to providing a safe and clean environment, and ensuring the sustainability of our resources for future generations.”

Influential voice in international dialogue

Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Member of the Board of Directors of EAD, said in the foreword, “Every year, I feel proud when I look at what we have achieved at EAD. In 2022, we continued our efforts to make a noticeable difference in the state of the environment in Abu Dhabi, ensuring a sustainable environment for future generations.”

She added, “We have taken great strides in several directions towards combating climate change – from planting mangroves with drones to honouring industrial facilities that are actively reducing their emissions, thereby reducing the proportion of pollutants. We also look forward to strengthening our leading role in COP28, which will be hosted by the UAE in 2023.”

She further noted, “We also look forward to having an influential voice in the international dialogue, which constantly seeks to find innovative, practical, and realistic solutions that enable us to reduce the catastrophic effects of climate change. By building partnerships and promoting mutual cooperation, transparency, and accountability, we will all be able to help address the impacts of climate change around the world. This goal represents one of our main priorities at EAD, and as an authority specialised in environmental affairs in Abu Dhabi, we will work towards building a sustainable future that responds to the aspirations of the present and meets the expectations of future generations.”

Pioneering examples in sustainable development

Commenting on the achievements made by EAD over the past year, Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, said, “The year 2022 was yet another year full of achievements and successes by EAD, as we launched and implemented several projects and programmes that reinforced Abu Dhabi's pioneering role in preserving the environment at the local, regional and global levels – in line with the UAE’s ambitious vision for sustainable development, and building on its significant successes that continue to resonate around the world.”

She stated, “The leading role played by the UAE in the fields of innovation, environmental preservation, and sustainability has undoubtedly been achieved thanks to the directives and support of our wise leadership, represented by President His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who has a clear and enlightened vision that embodies the ambitions, hopes, and aspirations of the Emirati people. The UAE has always been regarded around the world as a pioneering example in the achievement of sustainable development goals, especially in the field of environmental protection.”

She added, “I would also like to express my gratitude to Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, whose enlightened guidance enabled the Agency to successfully implement its vision of providing “a healthy, well-protected and sustainable environment that enhances the quality of life.”

She highlighted, “Among the most important projects of the last 12 months was the implementation of our Single-Use Plastic Policy, which included a ban on the use of single-use plastic bags in Abu Dhabi. The initiative was held in cooperation with major retail outlets that welcomed this approach and provided the support necessary to achieve its goals. Through this project, we managed to reduce the daily consumption of plastic bags by more than half a million. In line with the vision of the UAE government, we are on our way to implementing a complete ban on all single-use plastic bags across the country by 2024.”

Milestone initiatives

One of EAD’s most outstanding achievements was the launch of the Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative in February 2022 during a meeting of H.H. Sheikh Khaled bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Council; and His Royal Highness Prince William, at Jubail Island in Abu Dhabi. The Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative was established to provide a platform for the development of innovative mangrove planting solutions while helping mitigate the effects of climate change and raising awareness of mangroves’ importance and the need to restore them.

Another key milestone of 2022 was the launch of ‘Abu Dhabi Environmental Centennial 2071’ – a shared, comprehensive environmental vision for the Emirate for the next 50 years, that outlines EAD’s commitment to make Abu Dhabi a world leader in environmental conservation. This vision is aligned with the UAE’s government’s pledge to be the best country in the world by the 100th anniversary of the union in 2071.

The Agency also made significant progress in its commitment to declare Abu Dhabi free of single-use plastic products, by imposing a ban on single-use plastic bags on June 1st. Following the launch of the initiative, the Agency reported a significant reduction in the consumption of single-use plastic bags, with consumers switching to sustainable and reusable bags to reduce their environmental footprint. The ban was implemented in close cooperation with the largest retailers in Abu Dhabi and data collected from EAD’s retail partners revealed that since the beginning of the ban, the number of single-use plastic shopping bags dropped by more than 90 percent, resulting in a daily use reduction of half a million bags since June 1st.

Furthermore, in 2022, more than 30 million plastic bottles were recovered, in comparison to 7.25 million bottles the previous year, and more than 850,000 bottles are collected every week. To help build awareness around the challenges of plastic pollution, EAD disseminated a guide titled ‘Becoming Free of Single-Use Products: A Guide for Abu Dhabi Government’ to all government agencies, reaching more than 3,000 government employees. Additionally, 15 awareness sessions were organised, targeting different categories of youth and community groups, as well as members of the private, industrial, and commercial sectors, with a total of 3,550 people participating.

Inspirational missions

To support the Single-Use Plastic Policy, EAD set an aspirational, long-term target to achieve zero consumption of single-use plastics, while generating zero waste and zero carbon emissions, with zero impact on biodiversity through a public-facing campaign known as ‘Mission to Zero.’ The campaign was composed of various offline and online activations targeting all community members, government departments and businesses, retailers, restaurants, and especially, the youth.

Another important highlight was His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan inaugurating the Al Wathba Fossil Dunes Protected Area. The area is the first of its kind in the UAE, one of the first in West Asia, and comprises more than 1,700 fossil dunes, spread over 7 square kilometres.

In 2022 EAD launched two mobile phone applications: BAADR, and Abu Dhabi Nature. BAADR, sponsored by Borouge, rewards Abu Dhabi residents and citizens for completing different actions that will help protect the environment across the emirate. Abu Dhabi Nature is a free tool that helps educate the public on more than 4,000 species of animals and plants in Abu Dhabi. One of the app’s key features, Citizen Science, allows users to submit photographs or videos of any species they may in spot in wild ecosystems.

Also, in 2022, EAD and ENGIE announced the success of the “Blue Carbon” Environmental and Social Responsibility project’s second phase, run in partnership with Distant Imagery. The programme garnered attention for its highly innovative, drone-based mangrove planting technology, with more than 35,000 mangrove seeds planted at Mirfa Lagoon in Abu Dhabi.

Conservation projects

As part of the Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Arabian Oryx Reintroduction Programme, regarded as one of the world's most successful conservation projects, EAD successfully transferred 20 Arabian Oryx to Shumari Wildlife Reserve in Jordan. The Agency continued the world’s largest mammal reintroduction programme by also successfully translocating 20 Scimitar-Horned Oryx and 25 Addax to Chad’s Ouadi Rime-Ouadi Achim Game Reserve. The success of the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme continued with the release of 71 falcons into the wilds of Kazakhstan. The programme has successfully returned 2,159 falcons to their natural habitats since its establishment in 1995.

In addition, EAD rescued over 250 turtles with the support of The National Aquarium through the Wildlife Rescue Programme. Moreover, for the third consecutive year, EAD recorded a remarkable improvement in the sustainable fishing index, which increased from 8.9 percent in 2018 to 62.3 percent by the end of 2021. In regard to biodiversity, EAD discovered a new Eagle Ray Species (Aetomylaeus wafickii) in Abu Dhabi Waters which was added to the global list.

Eco-labelling, awards and recognitions

Another prominent achievement in 2022 was the launch of EAD’s ‘Green Industries’ Environmental Labelling Programme, created according to the best international eco-labelling practices while taking into consideration the nature of the industrial sector in Abu Dhabi. The programme aims to build mutually supportive collaborations to enhance the contribution of industrial facilities in the field of environmental protection.

In terms of awards and recognition, EAD won the Quality Choice Prize in the Gold Category from the European Society for Quality Research. The Agency was awarded for its quality management and extensive programme implementation and is the first environmental organisation in MENA to receive this prestigious global award. The Agency was granted LEED Certification by the U.S. Green Building Council thanks to its outstanding efforts in managing sustainable, healthy, and environmentally friendly buildings.