At the end of September an interactive multi-media exhibit, Eco Future, opened at Manarat Al Saadiyat in Abu Dhabi. The family-oriented exhibit presents children and their families with the opportunity to engage with environmental issues, with an emphasis on urban planning, and to see how the decisions they make today might impact the future.
In 2007, the UAE became the third country in the word, after Switzerland and Japan, to work with WWF on an Ecological Footprint Initiative. The project measures a nation’s environmental impact. And the WWF judged the UAE to be the world’s most environmentally wasteful country on the planet 12 years running, a rank it only recently lost to Qatar and Kuwait earlier in 2012. If all of the world’s inhabitants lived like citizens of the UAE, we would require 5.4 planets in order to sustain the human population. But recent years have seen the beginnings of several promising initiatives to reduce carbon emissions and promote sustainability across the UAE.
“In order to hit the targets and create a future that is comfortable, we need to reduce carbon emissions by 80 to 90 per cent,” said Dr Rob Cooke, the technical coordinator for the Emirates Green Building Council (EGBC), a group dedicated to the promotion of sustainable construction in the UAE. “Put simply, we need to halve demand, double efficiency and halve carbon.”
Dubai and Abu Dhabi are starting to address the public’s reliance on private vehicles and subsided fuel prices with their Metro and the Abu Dhabi Department of Transport surface transport master plan. Water is another huge environmental issue facing the UAE.
Consider, for example, the 6.5 million litres of drinking water used daily to irrigate just one of the capital’s golf courses. Abu Dhabi residents consume a per capita average of 550 litres of water every day. That is three times the UN benchmark of 180 litres per day, according to the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi. There is a growing awareness throughout the region, and many Arab activists are stepping up to confront these challenges. Hopefully the Eco Future exhibit will inspire even more youth to think about the future of their region, and of the world.
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