Environmental Successes and Challenges in the United Arab Emirates

Environmental Successes and Challenges in the United Arab Emirates

  • 4 June 2013

Many people think of Abu Dhabi as an Emirate with vast oil wealth. However, it is also blessed with natural resources encompassing environmental wealth and beauty. The Emirate is home to islands, beaches, deserts, and the diverse species that thrive in these pristine marine and terrestrial environments. The deserts contain special habitats and areas where unique animals and plants live. Fisherman, farmers, falconers, family members, boat enthusiasts, and tourists enjoy these natural areas in a number of ways.

Each of these environmental settings has both economic value and other intrinsic benefits. For example, the mangrove areas along the coast provide habitats for fish hatcheries, which benefit the fishing trade and individuals who enjoy recreational fishing. Mangroves also provide protection from coastal erosion and storms, and can even help clean and circulate the water over time.

Threats to the value of Abu Dhabi’s environmental assets include rapid industrialization, climate change, population growth, increases in waste and pollution, etc. For example, air quality can be affected by the high energy use needed to power development and support a higher standard of living. The marine environment can be altered due to higher pollutant and heat loads. Solid waste, when not managed properly, can lead to polluted soil, groundwater, and marine water. Groundwater depletion is another environmental impact that can occur with rapid development.

Abu Dhabi Emirate pursues active measures to protect its environment and counteract these threats. Specifically, the Emirate protects human health and the natural environment in ways that are essential to a sustainable economy. For example, the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has established a robust environmental permitting/inspection/compliance system, conducts ongoing monitoring of the environment, and prepares detailed reports on the state of the environment.

Abu Dhabi aspires to create a world class environmental governance program. One characteristic of such a program is a research function that can support science- or evidence-based decision making.This is a growing area in the Emirate, with decisions now being made with the full consideration of potential environmental impacts and improvements. This paper examines the current environmental challenges and opportunities Abu Dhabi faces, the responses that are being implemented now, and those that can be considered by the Emirate to protect and preserve its rich natural heritage and safeguard the health and wellbeing of its people.

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Tuesday 4 June 2013

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Tuesday 4 June 2013

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