ABU DHABI, 20th August, 2017 (WAM) — The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, has just released its annual report for 2016 in English and Arabic. The report includes an introduction from His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD, and highlights the agency’s efforts to protect and enhance air quality, groundwater, marine water quality, soil and the biodiversity of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.
One of the key achievements in 2016 was the issuance of a law on the crucial issue of groundwater use in Abu Dhabi. The law will assist EAD in managing demand and supply to preserve this resource for the future, as it is essential to the security, cultural heritage and environment of the UAE.
In addition, EAD’s well inventory project has made tremendous progress. Once complete, EAD will have a very comprehensive view of the status of groundwater reserves and abstraction rates from which the organisation can make informed policy decisions including a metering protocol.
In 2016, EAD participated in the UAE delegation that signed the Paris Climate Agreement at the United Nations Headquarters in New York. This is a key agreement that represents a major, unified step in the UAE’s efforts to curb global warming.
With regards to the declining state of fisheries stocks, EAD, in partnership with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, MoCCaE, began a detailed census of current demersal fish stocks in the Arabian Gulf, with the aim of protecting them and encouraging the fastest possible return of the stocks to sustainable levels.
EAD also continued its pioneering programme to re-introduce the extinct-in-the-wild Scimitar-horned Oryx in the Sahelian grasslands of Chad, in collaboration with the Government of Chad. Twenty-five oryx were released into the wild in 2016 and, for the first time in 30 years, a calf was born. The animals released were part of a herd that consisted of individuals from the collection of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan and a number of European and American institutions. They had been bred in EAD’s Delaija Wildlife Conservation Centre.
In his foreword to the report, Mohammed Al Bowardi, EAD’s Managing Director, said, “This year, EAD helped achieve several objectives listed in the Abu Dhabi Plan, which is an articulation of the leadership’s vision of sustainable development. For example, we identified 17 new marine and terrestrial protected areas, now awaiting official declaration. This means we have met our 2016 target of establishing 15.43 percent of land and 13.45 percent of the sea as a protected area.”
With regards to air quality and climate change mitigation, Al Bowardi added, “EAD, in collaboration with MoCCaE, published the second Greenhouse Gas Inventory. This comprehensive study not only identifies the principle sources of emissions, but also helps us to determine the relative impact of different policies on overall emissions. In our regulatory capacity, we will be working with key emitting industries to implement appropriate measures to curb emissions in the future.”
EAD successfully completed an inventory of mercury sources for Abu Dhabi in response to the United Nations Environment Programme, UNEP, ‘Minamata Convention’, making it the first in the region to do so. This has given it a baseline for the quantity of mercury in the environment and has helped raise both awareness and capacity in this field. The year also saw the development of new technical guidelines on soil quality based on international best practices. These are the first guidelines of their kind to be released in the region. While aimed at being particularly relevant to Abu Dhabi’s industrial and development activities, they can also be applied to residential and agricultural land.
In 2016, EAD also made several valuable upgrades to its Enviro-portal, which delivers high quality, timely and relevant data to decision-makers. The portal was launched for public use at enviroportal.ead.ae .
In addition, EAD continued to implement award-winning, globally recognised environmental education programmes, and in 2016, these were officially adopted by the MoCCaE and the Ministry of Education to be rolled out at the federal level.
The number of inspections EAD conducted of permit-holding industrial and commercial facilities increased during the year, and partly as a result of the increased visits, compliance has risen this year to 85 percent.
Highlighting some of EAD’s achievements, Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, EAD’s Secretary General, said, “In line with the Abu Dhabi Plan, we released our 2016-2020 Strategic Plan as a roadmap for the future. It covers the emirate’s current environmental status, as well as our own priorities, objectives and initiatives, with a focus on groundwater, air quality, climate change, waste, marine water quality, land quality, habitat loss and fisheries. The plan also sets out clear indicators of how we intend to monitor and measure performance.”
“In year one of our strategy, we have already attained several significant achievements including the launch of the Sustainable Fisheries Strategy with MoCCaE, which aims to ensure that the UAE’s fishery is utilised sustainably. We also aligned our marine water quality guidelines with international best practices,” Al Mubarak added.
On an organisational level, she said, “At the end of 2016, EAD passed stewardship of the emirate’s forests on to the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport, and with this, our knowledge on optimising the efficiency of these natural resources and the ecosystem services that they provide. We have made significant strides in improving the irrigation efficiency of Abu Dhabi’s forests, decommissioning very low ecological and cultural value forests that are not viable. We also actively managed the composition and health of the 50,000 animals that live in Abu Dhabi’s forests.”
Al Mubarak also noted that EAD continued its drive to hire and retain qualified and experienced Emiratis and, by the end of 2016, they accounted for 70 percent of the workforce. Likewise, women were also empowered to fulfil their role in building EAD’s future with women currently occupying 41 percent of leadership positions, by the end of 2016. Operationally, EAD achieved ISO 22301 accreditation for preparedness to operate in the event of emergency and operating costs were also reduced by 13.3 percent year on year, she added.
“We will build upon 2016 successes, and work with partners and stakeholders with immense enthusiasm to making even greater strides to conserve our magnificent biodiversity and protect our environmental quality and actively contributing to realising the Abu Dhabi Plan,” Al Mubarak concluded.
The full report is available at the EAD web-site.