UAE can lead way in boosting Blue Economy
The UAE, with its strategic location and innovation strategies, can lead the way in developing a sustainable blue economy for the world, officials said as the three-day World Ocean Summit, the first in the Middle East, began in Abu Dhabi on Tuesday. Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said the UAE strives to protect the environment, boost the blue economy, set legislations, and find solutions to challenges in the ocean.
“We have legislation to protect marine biodiversity. We are now focusing on nurturing innovation to ensure sustainability and boost the blue economy. We are determined to improve efforts to conserve marine life and conduct research into best practices to deal with climate change and various challenges, including the reduction in the number of fish in the oceans and the rising temperature of oceans and seas,” Al Zeyoudi said in his opening address. The blue economy refers to the ‘sustainable use of ocean resources for economic growth, livelihoods and jobs’. According to the minister, the UAE’s leadership has always aimed to find the balance between development and the conservation of the environment and natural resources. After all, the majority of the UAE’s population either lives in coastal areas or relies on the waters for their livelihoods.
“Up to 40 per cent of global shipments go through the UAE waters. Up to 80 per cent of oil shipments and 30 per cent of fish are hunted in the oceans around this region,” Al Zeyoudi said.
Rashed Al Blooshi, the acting undersecretary at the Department of Economic Development-Abu Dhabi, said the UAE can position itself as a hub to all the nations, owing to its strategic location.
“About 42 per cent of the UAE population somehow lives near the sea; 68 per cent of the UAE’s jobs are related to services and functions of the seas, and 30 per cent of jobs in the country are related to areas close to the sea,” Al Blooshi said in a panel discussion on the blue economy.
“The UAE is also a country that has access to 2.4 billion of the world population, so there is a huge potential for the UAE to expand in those areas. We are talking about countries that want to expand its infrastructure around the sea,” he said. Al Blooshi added that considering this strength, the country has put laws, regulations and penalties in place. As the world drives its innovation and development agenda forward, the officials said it must also tackle issues in the ocean and threats to the marine ecosystem. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, managing director of the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi, pointed out issues – such as habitat loss, pollution and small-scale fisheries -that needed to be addressed at local and regional levels.
“Global warming is accelerating faster than first estimated. This region is particularly vulnerable to climate change. Our seas are already the warmest. The species that live in the seas already exist in the threshold of their biological abilities to survive.
“The health of our sea is intrinsically linked to our water security. More than 98 per cent of our potable water is directly linked to the quality of our marine water quality through desalination,” said Al Mubarak.
Ministry’s Ecotourism app brings youth closer to nature
Addressing the ‘Youth Circle’ at the summit, Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, urged the youngsters to use the ministry’s e-book and smart application that can let them explore “nature’s best”.