To effectively combat climate change, we need to change the way we build cities, regulate land use and stimulate new green agricultural revolution, and produce clean energy, among other concrete measures, world leaders said during the sixth World Green Economy Summit (WGES) in Dubai on Sunday.
The summit derives its agenda from His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai’s forward-thinking directives to balance economic growth with the sustainability of natural and environmental resources. It saw the coming of minds of world leaders, former heads of states, government officials, private sector, entrepreneurs and students to discuss concrete steps to take against climate change.
Organised by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (Dewa) and World Green Economy Organisation (WGEO), this year’s summit focuses on three key pillars: Sustainable Development Mechanisms; International Cooperation to support the Green Economy System; and Adoption of Green Innovative Solutions.
Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai, Minister of Finance and President of Dewa, inaugurated the summit on Sunday. The opening ceremony was attended by Azali Assoumani, President of the Comoros, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Vice Chairman of the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy and Chairman of WGES, Ban Ki-moon, Former Secretary-General of the United Nations; François Hollande, Former President of France; Felipe Calderón, Former President of Mexico; Julia Gillard, Former Prime Minister of Australia, and Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary of the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), Dr Thani Bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Mariam Bint Mohammed Saeed Hareb Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food Security, and other ministers, senior officials, from different countries.
Calderon, former President of Mexico during his keynote address, said the whole world has experienced the evils of climate change as droughts, hurricanes and floods wreak havoc in many countries and claim lives and damage the global economy. But there are always solutions.
“If we continue to open up new opportunities for transformative change in coming years, then it is possible to make some smart choices and some brave decisions,” Calderon said, adding three key systems should be changed.
“Firstly, we need to change the cities we built. We need to make space for over one billion people who will come to live in the cities in the next 12 years. Second, regulate the lands and stimulate the new green agricultural revolution. By doing so, we will be able to provide income, food and better quality of life for the poorest families in the world. Thirdly, we must produce energy with cleaner technologies and to use that energy in a more efficient way, create new business opportunities and jobs.”
Many of these key changes are already being done in the UAE with the last point—producing energy with cleaner technologies—getting the biggest boost recently.
Al Tayer during his keynote address said the UAE has “succeeded in taking effective measures to address environmental challenges and climate change” by launching pioneering clean energy projects, especially solar power.
“Recently, the world’s biggest solar photovoltaic plant of 1,177MW Noor Abu Dhabi at Sweihan in Abu Dhabi was commissioned on the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model. Dubai continues its work by building the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum (MBR) Solar Park to achieve the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050. This will be the largest single-site solar park in the world, which will have a capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030, generated from a range of photovoltaic and concentrated solar power technologies,” Al Tayer said.
“Under the guidance of our wise leadership, we are sparing no effort to make Dubai a global hub for green economy and a sustainable economy, a role model in clean energy by leveraging on the Fourth Industrial Revolution to use innovative disruptive technologies,” he added.
Apart from the projects in Dubai, Dewa is also constructing the region’s first Pumped-Storage hydroelectric power plant on Hatta Dam, using solar power for pumping and storage.
Green Hydrogen Project
“The plant will store up to 1500 megawatt hours. This is in addition to the Green Hydrogen Project, the first solar-powered green hydrogen electrolysis facility in the Middle East and North Africa (Mena) region. This project uses clean energy to produce green hydrogen that will be stored and deployed for different uses.”
Former Secretary-General of the UN, Ban Ki Moon, during his keynote thanked the organisers of the summit for advancing green growth of the international community.
“We have always strived towards sustainable growth which has been our top agenda and forums as WGES help energise, address and maximise the multi-stakeholder partnership,” he said.
“The rock of the forum this year is to discuss sustainable issues, which will serve as an important step in securing sustainable security for generations to come. So now is the time for action,” he added.
For his part, Azali Assoumani, President of the Comoros, said his country is contributing to the fight against climate change through concrete actions as well but everyone needs to work together.
“Comoros has committed to increasing its protected areas estate tenfold from our current base,” he said. “The systemic crises that all of us face today cannot be addressed in isolation because one is related to another. If our problems are interconnected, it must be then, that solutions also require us to connect with each other and collaborate.”