“We must continue to work towards a cleaner and greener future” says Saeed Al Abbar

The UAE’s efforts to promote sustainable development have been dynamic, but we must continue to work towards a cleaner and greener future.

The UAE is a regional pioneer when it comes to embracing sustainable development as a national priority. During recent years, the nation has set impressive benchmarks that highlight the leadership’s commitment to nurture the environment and resources for a cleaner and greener future for our coming generations.

Importantly, the UAE’s efforts at promoting sustainable development have been dynamic and constantly evolving. This means the government sets priorities based on actual needs and by building on the achievements that we have made over the years.

For example, one of the forerunner strategies of the UAE in sustainable development is encapsulated in the ‘green vision for sustainable development’ vision announced by Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, UAE Vice President & Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in 2012.

Further, in 2014, the nation unveiled the UAE Vision 2021, setting a seven-year roadmap for sustainable growth that complemented the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy 2030 and Abu Dhabi Vision 2030. Very clear priorities have been set in all these strategies that include diversifying the energy mix to include renewable energy sources and demand-side management.

This is further articulated in the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050, announced in 2015, whereby Dubai seeks to be a global hub for clean energy and green economy. Emirates Green Building Council has been resolutely working to support all concerned stakeholders to help achieve the nation’s green priorities. Since our founding in 2006, when sustainable development was yet to become a watchword, as it is today, we have diligently worked towards raising awareness and encouraging tangible action across the building industry supply chain. In tune with the national priorities set by our leadership, Emirates Green Building Council has also implemented new initiatives that help build a greener future.

And in this journey, we focus unwaveringly on the role that buildings can play in limiting the impact on the environment and contributing to the health and well-being of the population. That is why we champion the need to promote retrofitting of buildings, which is listed as a priority in the Dubai Integrated Energy Strategy.

Buildings in the UAE have a high carbon footprint. It is estimated that nearly 80% of the electricity generated in the country is used by the existing buildings.

While commendable steps have been made in developing green buildings, including some path-breaking LEED and Estidama-certified projects having become a reality, we believe that the retrofitting of existing buildings need to also be prioritised.

Saeed Al Abbar is the Chairman of the Emirates Green Building Council