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The presence of the Middle East and North Africa region on the global sustainability agenda continues to grow. The region is witnessing significant momentum in accelerating climate action and strengthening bridges of international cooperation to mitigate the repercussions of climate change. This can be seen from the hosting of the 27th Conference of the Parties (COP 27) in November 2022 in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, and preparations of the UAE to host COP 28 in Dubai Expo City in November 2023, which will accelerate the pace of climate action to combat climate change and global warming. Choosing the two countries to host COP 27 and COP 28 marks the beginning of a series of regional events that will last for 18 months, placing the Arab world at the centre of global activities in mitigating climate change.
The two conferences highlight the region’s role in the sustainability agenda by adopting effective strategies to adapt to climate change and mitigate its effects. The two conferences are also of particular importance for supporting climate financing for developing countries and supporting energy transition sustainably and equitably for all relevant parties, consolidating constructive partnerships between the public and private sectors. They also enable bridging the gap between ̒the South and the North ̓ and between the developing and developed countries. This helps to find innovative green solutions to the challenges posed by climate change, ensuring long-term economic and social benefits for the region and the world and achieving a more sustainable future for all.
COP27 has provided many meaningful opportunities for the UAE’s investments, making COP28 essential for expanding economic growth and prosperity with lowered emissions. The UAE will also benefit from its track record in reducing emissions, its global leadership in the clean and renewable energy sector, as well as its good relations, that consolidate the bonds of communication and dialogue; and mobilize efforts to transform climate action into opportunities for economic development and diversification. Moreover, it aims to support the implementation of the outputs of the previous COPs to achieve the Paris Agreement and raise awareness in society on their role that can bring about a positive effect in reducing their carbon footprint. This aligns with the wise leadership’s vision to make COP28 the most successful global environmental conference.
COP28 is also an important platform to highlight the UAE’s journey toward achieving comprehensive sustainable development, the foundations of which were laid by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. This is turn, is supported by the wise directives of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE; and His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, to ensure a balance between economic growth and the sustainability of natural and environmental resources. This journey has resulted in the country assuming a leading global position in diversifying energy sources, through massive clean energy projects, the largest and most efficient solar power plants, in addition to being the first country in the region to use nuclear energy for peaceful purposes to generate electric power. Oil and gas in the UAE are also among the least carbon-intensive in the world. The UAE is the first country in the region to ratify the Paris Agreement and to announce a strategic initiative to achieve Net Zero by 2050. The UAE also hosts the headquarters of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA). The UAE has invested more than US$50 billion in clean energy projects in 70 countries including 40 developing nations and recently announced the UAE-US Partnership to Accelerate the Transition to Clean Energy (PACE). The project will catalyze US$100 billion in financing, investment, and other support and will deploy 100 gigawatts of clean energy globally.
To further spearhead the transition towards a green economy, the UAE Cabinet, Chaired by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, approved the UAE to join the Global Alliance for Green Economy, announced by the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO) during the World Green Economy Summit 2022. The Alliance will play a pivotal role in promoting climate action, food security, and climate resilient development. WGEO called for supporting this global alliance to accelerate the transition towards a green economy, achieve the goals of sustainable development, and the implementation of the Paris Agreement by harnessing financing, technology, capacity building, and other factors that contribute to enabling a green economy.
In Dubai, we have developed major projects and strategic initiatives implemented by the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) to achieve the goals of the Dubai Clean Energy Strategy 2050 and the Dubai Net Zero Carbon Emissions Strategy 2050 to provide 100% of Dubai’s total production capacity from clean energy sources by 2050. Among the most prominent of these projects is the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park, the world’s largest single-site solar park using the Independent Power Producer (IPP) model, with a production capacity of 5,000 megawatts by 2030. DEWA is also implementing several leading projects to diversify clean energy sources. These include multiple clean and renewable energy sources and technologies such as PV panels, CSP, and green hydrogen production using solar power, which is the first of its kind in the MENA region to produce hydrogen using solar energy. DEWA is also working on pumped-storage water technology using clean energy in Hatta, the first of its kind in the GCC region. DEWA has also implemented several projects to increase energy efficiency.
Furthermore, in 2022, the first-ever MENA Week was hosted by the UAE Government, represented by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), the World Green Economy Organization (WGEO), and DEWA, in collaboration with the UNFCCC, which accelerated the momentum towards COP 27.
In the UAE, we do not rest on our laurels. We continue our relentless efforts to achieve carbon neutrality and support the transition to a green economy. We look forward to COP28 in the UAE to make a tangible impact on climate neutrality, reduce greenhouse gas emissions, consolidate our positive contribution to climate change, transform challenges into opportunities, and anticipate and shape a brighter future for all humans.