How some countries in the Middle East are working towards a sustainable future

How some countries in the Middle East are working towards a sustainable future
Published: 12 November 2019 - 2:01 p.m.
By: Baset Asaba

With the world moving forward toward a more sustainable green environment, many organizations have taken it upon themselves to spread awareness and take careful steady steps toward a greener future. And with the Fridaysforfuture initiative taking the younger generation by a storm—with millions of students from Australia, Japan, Southeast Asia and into Europe, Africa and the Middle East taking to the streets in peaceful marches demanding faster action against climate change—more countries are hearing the message loud and clear.

According to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), renewable energy could supply four-fifths of the world’s electricity by 2050, massively cutting carbon emissions and helping to mitigate climate change. With renewables coming to the forefront of a global transition more conscious of the environment, many countries in MENA have started to take initiative.

The UAE has one of the highest solar exposure rates in the world, encouraging green energy investments and technology projects focusing on renewable energy development and climate change.

Setting goals for a more sustainable future by promoting the use of clean energy, Dubai has backed a number of institutional and governmental initiatives. The Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 aims to place the country at the forefront of a low-carbon economy by getting 50% of its power output from clean energy sources by 2050, with about 7% of this achieved by 2020.

In Abu Dhabi, a “pearl” rating system for all new developments was implemented in compliance with its Estidama vision to ensure that all future projects are established in a sustainable manner. Abu Dhabi sustainability week has been an action-oriented global platform for accelerating the development and promotion of clean energy projects since 2008.

With more organizations working in line with UAE’s sustainable vision, Masdar Abu Dhabi, a pioneering developer of clean energy power projects, has been working on achieving commercially-viable solutions in energy, water, urban development and clean technologies in the UAE and across the world. The company has invested more than $2.7 billion in clean energy developments in the UAE since 2006. Developed by the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company, the Masdar City project is one of the world's most sustainable low-carbon urban communities. The city mainly relies on solar energy and other renewable energy sources, and it’s considered a pioneering vision of an environmentally conscious city.

Egypt, aided by the United Nations Development Program, has been working to mitigate the risks of climate change and environmental concerns in the country, through decreasing energy waste and energy consumption with energy-efficient lighting systems.

According to Egypt’s Renewable Energy Report, Egypt intends to increase the supply of electricity generated from renewable sources to 20% by 2022 and 42% by 2035. More local initiatives have also been taken in the country to decrease the use of plastic. Following the “Enough Plastic Bags” initiative, launched by the Ministry of Environment and funded by the EU in 2017, Egypt’s Red Sea governorate decided to ban all disposable plastics, starting from June 2019, to protect wildlife, marine life, and endangered species, all of which have been severely affected by plastic. In addition to that, a ban on single-use plastics in Egypt was proposed in the Egyptian parliament in June to limit the use of plastic, aiming to enhance a go-green environment, according to the Egypt Independent.

Saudi Arabia has also been moving towards supporting renewable energy and sustainability projects. In October, the Kingdom announced allocating monetary loans worth around $319 million for local companies venturing into the renewable energy sector, through the Mutjadeda program launched by the Saudi Industrial Development Fund for renewable energy projects. In 2017, the Kingdom established the Renewable Energy Project Development Office to deliver the goals of the national renewable energy program, a focused initiative aiming to enhance the renewable energy industry, under Vision 2030 and the King Salman Renewable Energy Initiative.

As more countries take charge to tackle the threats of climate change looming over the world, we must all increase our efforts to take steps towards a more sustainable green future.

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