Dubai, 18/1/2012

The Arab Green Economy Initiative launched by AFED started to resonate at the highest policy levels in the region. The United Arab Emirates has announced on January 15, 2012, its national green initiative to transform the country’s economy. Dubbed “A green economy for sustainable development”, the initiative seeks to make the UAE “a global hub and a successful model of the new green economy, so as to enhance the country’s competitiveness and sustainability of its development and preserve its environment for future generations” according to Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of UAE and Ruler of Dubai. In making the announcement, Sheikh Mohammed pointed to the need to maintain a strong linkage between the economy and the environment. He asserted that improvements in one do not have to be made at the expense of the other, and asked “everyone to prepare for a new phase in the growth of the UAE.”

The UAE Green Economy Initiative includes green legislation, programs, and projects designed to encompass six areas: energy, green investments, cities, climate change, biodiversity and green technology.

The UAE green economy announcement comes at the heel of the publication of the report Green Economy in a Changing Arab World in October 2011, by the Arab Forum of Environment and Development (AFED). This report is part of the AFED Arab Green Economy Initiative, which seeks a “transitioning from virtual economy based on real estate and financial speculation and depletion of resources, to the real economy based on sustainable growth combined with productive investment which creates new job opportunities”, according to Najib Saab, Secretary general of AFED.

AFED launched its regional green economy program in 2009, when it organized, in partnership with the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP), a series of consultations in seven Arab countries, to select priority sectors and draw a roadmap for a smooth transition to the green economy. One of those meetings was hosted by the Environment Agency in Abu Dhabi, and another one was hosted by Petrofac in Sharjah. In February 2011, AFED presented its Green Economy Initiative at a special session during UNEP’s Governing Council and the Global Ministerial Environment Forum in Nairobi, where it was discussed by participating Arab ministers, including the UAE’s minister of environment and water Dr. Rashid bin Fahad.

Guided by the bold vision of the Arab Green Economy Initiative, the Department of Economic Development in Ajman, one of the UAE Emirates, has organized in November 2011, in collaboration with AFED, a forum entitled The Green Economy: A Path to Development. It focused on presenting the conceptual foundation of green development and introducing the economic, social, and environmental gains expected in eight economic sectors, and culminated with endorsement by the ruler of Ajman, Sheikh Humeid Al-Nuaimi.

Following the announcement by the UAE to launch a national green economy initiative, it is hoped that the pioneering AFED Arab Green Economy Initiative will gather more momentum, and inspire and guide other Arab countries to plan for long-term transformations in their own development agendas.