UAE. The UAE's Al Basama Al Beeiya (Ecological Footprint) initiative got off the ground recently with a technical workshop for over 150 attendees from government, municipalities, corporate organisations, and NGOs, as well as researchers from educational institutions and staff from foreign embassies.
The highly interactive workshop that was conducted on Tuesday focused on collective steps that need to be undertaken to verify the UAE's ecological footprint and the process involved in its calculation.
The UAE launched Al Basama Al Beeiya (Ecological Footprint) Initiative last week as a first step towards measuring and understanding the country's ecological footprint. The initiative involving multiple stakeholders across the nation is a combined effort to develop important guidelines for a more resource-conscious and resource-efficient government and society.
The four core partners in the Al Basama Al Beeiya initiative are the UAE Ministry of Environment and Water (MoEW), the Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), the Emirates Wildlife Society, World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF) and the Global Footprint Network (GFN), an international non-profit organization that promotes the ecological footprint as a sustainability metric worldwide.
The technical workshop conducted by Dr Mathis Wackernagel, Executive Director of the Global Footprint Network and co-creator of the ecological footprint methodology, was organised by the project partners to engage multiple stakeholders from across the country who would need to be directly involved in the development and success of the initiative.
With the help of a participant at the workshop who volunteered to get her ecological footprint calculated via an online footprint calculator, attendees were able to gain a preliminary understanding of the parameters that went into the calculation of the ecological footprint. The workshop went on to introduce the audience to the concept, the methods and typical data points used in the calculation of National Footprint Accounts and to introduce the UAE's research agenda in the context of Al Basama Al Beeiya.
Representatives from federal and local bodies,leading public and private sector companies as well as academic and research sector.
"On behalf of the Al Basama Al Beeiya partners I would like to thank all participants for their keen interest and support. Their willingness to contribute to this national project was obvious at the workshop at which participants raised several pertinent issues relevant to UAE," said Razan Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EWS- WWF, the national NGO partner in Al Basama Al Beeiya.
"The workshop was conceived as an essential first step that will help us in the larger task of nation-wide data gathering. We are sure that the workshop participants will act as ambassadors for Al Basama Al Beeiya within their organisations and help facilitate the data gathering exercise," she added.
Commending the UAE for being only the third country in the world after Switzerland and Japan to undertake such a detailed national footprint calculation programme, Dr Mathis said that support from across multiple sectors and strong backing from the government were critical to the success of the initiative.
"Governments are realising that ecological assets are becoming ever more significant for a country's well-being and for maintaining its competitiveness. Ecological footprint accounting is being viewed as a way to secure people's quality of life for years to come," he said.
The multi-stakeholder national effort under Al Basama Al Beeiya will involve data collection, quantitative and qualitative analysis, re-assessment of UAE data currently used nationally and internationally, and research into the methodology of measuring the ecological footprint taking into consideration the country's climatic and regional resonance. Once the calculation of the UAE's footprint and analysis of the footprint are completed, Al Basama Al Beeiya will make policy recommendations in two areas: natural resource use and data management.