26 DEC 2019
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week: How the UAE’s Voluntary Approach Drives Sustainability
By His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment
In a world dominated by self-interest and an endless chase of quick wins, where quid pro quo is the rule rather than the exception, voluntary acts that are exclusively intended to serve the greater good tend to raise more than a few eyebrows.
In this context, the UAE’s proactive approach to shaping a better future for all has made the world sit up and take notice. After all, why would a country that can comfortably rely on its oil revenues endeavor to deploy clean energy solutions and innovation and become an active sustainability advocate at home and abroad?
The answer is simple. This approach stems from the values that the founding fathers of the UAE, led by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, instilled in their people from the early days of the federation. They taught us that working for the benefit of the human race is the ultimate achievement to which anyone can aspire.
Our leadership today continues to uphold this legacy and voluntarily shoulders the responsibility of advancing an inclusive sustainable development paradigm that leaves no one behind.
One way of doing so is to create platforms that promote sustainability across the board, such as the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).
Over the course of 11 years, ADSW has carved a niche for itself as a dynamic sustainability solution-focused global platform that serves as a springboard for green innovations and mega projects.
ADSW 2019 drew the participation of a record 38,000 people representing 170 countries, including heads of state, ministers, investors and experts. Commercial projects valued at US$11 billion were announced during the week, clearly indicating that ADSW has today become one of the world’s largest and most influential sustainability gatherings.
As part of a meticulously planned agenda, events such as the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) Assembly, the Atlantic Council Global Energy Forum, the Future Sustainability Summit, and the World Future Energy Summit accelerate the global uptake of renewable energy solutions. And through the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, ADSW promotes investments in sustainability ventures and raises awareness about responsible and sustainable production and consumption patterns.
The highlight of the week is the Zayed Sustainability Prize, which invites the world’s most sustainable innovators to compete for a cash prize and honors to translate their environment-friendly concepts into reality. The Prize has a solid record of supporting innovative solutions that have benefitted millions of lives over the past decade.
For its part, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment hosts the Climate Innovations Exchange (CLIX) every year during ADSW. CLIX offers young start-ups and innovators from across the globe a platform to present their solutions to environmental challenges, and facilitates partnerships between start-ups and investors. Its inaugural edition in 2018 featured 27 innovations, and investors expressed their intent to fund projects to the tune of US$17.5 million in the first year. In 2019, the number of innovations surged to 41, and investment intent saw a corresponding increase to US$53.9 million.
ADSW presents to the world a shining example of the UAE’s active involvement in tackling the challenges faced by the international community – an approach that reflects the visionary mindset of our leaders.
Recognizing that global concerns can only be addressed through concerted action, the UAE has committed to generating the momentum needed to build a sustainable future for all. We invite the world to participate in ADSW 2020 and join us in empowering humanity to leapfrog into a new era of sustainability.