Thursday, September 17, 2015

Green means a sustainable future

The Emirate of Sharjah is leading the region with projects that will build the foundations for a greener and sustainable future and develop Sharjah into the Environmental Capital of the Middle East. 

As part of the emirate's strong commitment and concern for the environment, authorities are proactively encouraging and instilling responsible environment practices and a culture of respect for the environment among its residents and citizens, said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre.

Sheikh Sultan emphasised that in line with the vision and guidelines of H.H. Dr. Sheikh Sultan bin Mohammed Al Qasimi, Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah has always followed a tradition of respect for nature and ecological resources.

"As an emirate that boasts one of the most diverse and ecologically rich landscapes in the region, with a long coastline and picturesque beaches along the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf, rich flora and fauna, precious environment resources such as the mangroves of Kalba and the largest number of parks, wildlife and natural reserves in the country, Sharjah is conscious of its responsibility to protect its environment and natural resources," said Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed.

"Sharjah has undertaken a number of historic and ground-breaking initiatives in the past few years to ensure its residents embrace best and healthy environment practices, policies that are in accordance with internationally recognised conventions and guidelines by the United Nations for sustainable development and progress for all", he added.

The communities in Sharjah are encouraged to adopt an environmentally sustainable lifestyle through various awareness and education initiatives. Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the UAE, and also has the highest development rate. All development activities in Sharjah are mandated to follow sustainable development practices.

In an effort to protect the environment in the midst of rapid growth and development in the emirate, the Sharjah Government and Bee'ah have been very proactive towards activities that promote environmental protection and awareness. The Government has pushed for increases in the greenery areas in the emirate that will not only provide recreational areas for families, but will also help reduce the environmental footprint.

The launching of the much acclaimed Bee'ah initiative in 2007 by the emirate was a huge step in this quest for a healthier environment. Bee'ah is dedicated to providing sustainable solutions in environmental and resource management through integrated waste management, renewable energy, facilities management and sustainable development. It also offers environmental consulting and research by providing education and awareness about environmental preservation.

Despite the massive economic development, industrialisation and considerable electricity consumption in the country, the UAE remains within the ‘green zone' in ecological terms, according to the World Health Organisation guidelines.

A WHO report for the Eastern Mediterranean, Regional Strategy for Health and Environment 2014-2019, has noted that "...the UAE has a very low mortality rate resulting from environmental consequences such as air pollution compared to other countries in the region."

The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water's Air Quality Department also asserts that the country's particulate matter of 2.5 levels do not exceed WHO guidelines. This is a result of the importance the country attaches to improving air quality by achieving 90 percent of the WHO Air Quality guidelines as a target by 2021.

The Gulf Ecosystem Research Centre, which was jointly established by Bee'ah and the American University of Sharjah, AUS, to promote environmental research within the region, runs and manages the Air Quality Monitoring Systems project. Researchers at the centre collect data of gas emissions and particles and analyse the results gathered from the Air Quality Monitoring System through a control room and servers located in both the Bee'ah Headquarters and on AUS's campus.

An additional supportive initiative by the emirate is supervised by the Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah, which aims to preserve the precious ecological and wildlife resources in the emirate. –end-

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