UAE participates in Biological Diversity Conference in Egypt

SHARM EL SHEIKH, Egypt, 18th November, 2018 (WAM) — A UAE delegation is participating in the 14th meeting of the Conference of the Parties to the Convention on Biological Diversity (COP14), held under the theme ‘Investing in Biodiversity for People and Planet’.

Taking place in Sharm El Sheikh, Egypt, from 14th to 29th November, 2018, the meeting aims to enhance and unify international efforts to stop the loss in biodiversity and protect ecosystems that support food and water security and health for billions of people.

The delegation includes Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri, Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, Abdul Aziz Al Suwaidi, Director of the Marine Sustainability Department at the Environment and Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah, and experts from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), Dubai Municipality, the Municipality and Planning Department in Ajman, and Fujairah Municipality. In addition, Hiba Al Shehhi, Acting Director of the Biodiversity Department at MOCCAE, and Marwa Al Amiri, International Organisations Coordinator at MOCCAE, participated in the High-Level Segment of the meeting that took place on November 15th.

COP14 addresses efforts to achieve the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, as well as laying the foundations for an alternative preparation process for the current global Strategic Plan for Biodiversity 2011-2020. It also includes high-level meetings aimed at discussing the mainstreaming of biodiversity into key sectors of the economy, namely: energy and mining, infrastructure, manufacturing and processing industry, and health.

Addressing the High-Level Segment, Hiba Al Shehhi said: “Protecting wildlife has been a priority issue since the establishment of the UAE, and is a cornerstone of the country’s policies towards protecting and developing the environment.”

She added, “In line with the vision of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE seeks to strike a balance between its socio-economic progress and protecting its cultural, social and environmental heritage.”

Al Shehhi highlighted the UAE’s efforts in biodiversity and environment conservation in parallel with the development and growth of the energy, mining and infrastructure sectors.

She pointed out to the UAE’s issuance of local and federal laws and regulations, such as Federal Law No. 24 of 1999 regarding the protection and development of the environment, which requires all entities working in these sectors to identify the risks of their actions and limit their impact on health, safety and environment, and that all their activities should have environmental impact assessment and strict health, safety and monitoring standards.

Al Shehhi noted the commitment of the institutions operating in these sectors to carry out research and applied sciences and develop multiple projects that would reduce the environmental impact of their work and preserve the environment, including Abu Dhabi National Petroleum Company (ADNOC) that launched Al Reyadah, a company focused on exploring and developing commercial scale projects for carbon capture, utilization and storage (CCUS). Al Reyadah’s facility captures up to 800,000 metric tonnes of carbon dioxide emitted from the Emirates Steel factory annually.

Speaking on the mainstreaming of biodiversity conservation in the infrastructure sector, Al Shehhi said, “The plans and strategies for the development of any sector in the UAE are mandatorily connected to environmental conservation and sustainability criteria, with a particular emphasis on the conservation of biodiversity, where any project developed requires a study of its environmental impact and the extent of the potential and proposed impacts of the project on the environment.”

Al Shehhi pointed to the launch of the UAE Green Agenda 2030, which includes several working programmes such as the integrated green infrastructure programme that deals with the implementation of sustainability standards and the development of infrastructure in a sustainable urban manner, in addition to the natural capital programme that is concerned with the assessment, monitoring and evaluation of natural materials for the benefit of decision makers, and the clean energy and climate change adaptation programme.

COP14 discusses topics such as biodiversity and climate change. It also highlights policies on a variety of issues that determine global and national trends for the protection of biodiversity. These issues include information about digital sequencing on genetic resources, traditional knowledge, innovations and practices, sustainable wildlife management, spatial planning, protected areas and other effective conservation measures, marine and coastal biological diversity, and invasive alien species.

Under the Convention on Biological Diversity and its protocols, including the Cartagena Protocol on Biosafety and the Nagoya Protocol on Access and Benefit-sharing, governments of the parties to the convention address the important issues raised by emerging technologies, including how to manage developments in synthetic biology to maximize potential benefits and reduce risks. In addition, the implications of numerical sequencing information on genetic resources upon the objectives of the convention and the Nagoya Protocol are also discussed.

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