Ministry of Environment and Water kicks off 19th National Environment Day celebrations

Al AIN, 28th January, 2016 (WAM) — Under the patronage of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE’s nationwide celebrations of the 19th National Environment Day officially kicked off today.

Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water, made this announcement at a press conference at the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre, SZDLC, at Al Ain Zoo’s UAE World Desert. The press conference was attended by more than 50 representatives from various municipalities, environmental organisations, and government and private entities.

On the occasion, Bin Fahad said: “I would like to express my deepest gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan for his support. We extend our appreciation to the wise leadership for the state’s steadfast and continuous support towards the development and preservation of the environment.”

“I would also like to take this occasion to express my deepest thanks and appreciation to Vice President and Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, and to their Highnesses, Members of the Supreme Council, for their full interest and concern for the environment. Their support has helped reinforce the UAE’s position as one of the leading countries in terms of environmental protection initiatives in accordance with the regional and international standards.”

Bin Fahad noted that the National Environment Day, which began 19 years ago and falls every February 4 of the year, is fundamental in raising interest and public awareness on pressing environmental issues. The annual commemoration has bolstered ongoing efforts to protect the environment, which is an essential component of UAE Vision 2021, UAE National Agenda, and environmental strategies of federal and local government authorities. The UAE’s environmental awareness jumped from 63 per cent in 2014 to 68 per cent in 2015, according to the Ministry’s annual survey.

Dr. Bin Fahad added that this year marks the conclusion of the three-year campaign cycle designed for the occasion under the slogan ‘The Green Economy: Innovation & Sustainability.’ The first year of the campaign focused on the aspects of green economy, the first element of the program’s logo. It involved defining and outlining social and environmental advantages as we well as setting terms for green development according to the UAE strategy.

During its second year, the focus was on innovation, the second element of the logo, to coincide with the National Year of Innovation and the National Strategy for Innovation initiatives. Programs were developed to emphasize innovation and its important role it plays in the country’s efforts to shift green economy from a traditional economic framework. This is an essential component of UAE Vision 2021, which aims to develop a national economy driven by knowledge and innovation.

This year, Dr. Bin Fahad said efforts will be on sustainability, the third element of the logo, as the main component of green economy. His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan cited sustainability during his speech in last year’s National Environment Day celebration. His Highness said: “Green and sustainable management of the economy aims to conserve natural resources, preserve heritage, ensure the well-being, health and stability of each individual, and safeguard the basic rights of future generations by protecting them from waste and attrition.”

The Environment Minister also announced that this year’s programme will feature the launch of the ‘Sustainability is a Lifestyle’ initiative developed under the national strategy program to increase environmental education and awareness. The initiative aims to serve as the general framework for all local environmental awareness programs, encourage the adoption of a sustainable lifestyle through interaction, and increase the government and private sectors’ role in instilling positive cultural and environmental behaviors.

To be implemented until 2020, the initiative will raise awareness in society and business community, implement best industry practices to ensure high quality of life, encourage improved consumption patterns to ensure sustainability of resources, and reduce the negative impact human activities on natural resources.

The Ministry of Environment and Water, different municipalities, and other local environmental bodies will organise around 60 various activities and events throughout the year as part of the celebrations.