Dubai / WAM
During a high-level meeting at COP27 in Sharm El-Sheikh, a collaboration agreement was signed between Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD), and Laila Mostafa Abdullatif, Director-General of Emirates Nature-WWF (ENWWF).
The collaboration showcases the UAE’s commitment to scaling up Nature-based Solutions (NbS) as a key pillar to tackling climate change and nature loss in the lead-up to COP28 to be held in the country next year.
By enhancing and restoring highly productive and valuable coastal ecosystems – including mangroves, saltmarshes and seagrass habitats – partners aim to highlight how working with nature can benefit people, nature and climate and make a significant contribution to the UAE’s Net-Zero 2050 Strategy.
With each COP that passes, the urgency to close the emissions gap in addressing the climate emergency becomes ever greater. COP27 has represented a real opportunity to advance dialogue on the nature-climate nexus and the role that NbS can play in supporting climate mitigation and adaptation actions. More and more countries are indeed recognizing that nature can play a key role in global climate action strategies, and this is reflected in an increased number of countries including nature in their Nationally Determined Contributions (NDCs) to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC). A 2021 WWF report found that countries were increasingly recognising the value of NbS in their efforts to address the climate crisis. Some 92% of the updated NDCs assessed in the study included NbS.
“The UAE’s NDC clearly recognizes the climate adaptation and mitigation co-benefits of natural ecosystems, particularly blue carbon ecosystems. As part of the overall commitments, it includes the conservation, restoration, and expansion of mangrove habitats. In addition, the emirate of Abu Dhabi is targeting the inclusion of a minimum of 20% marine blue carbon habitats within its protected areas. Our collaboration with EAD and Emirates Nature-WWF demonstrates our dedication to maximizing the potential of nature-based solutions. We aim to ensure that our collective efforts are inclusive, transparent, and developed with the needs of local communities in mind, and that their benefits are equally distributed,” said Almheiri.
The UAE has a remarkable track record of inclusive local and global efforts to combat climate change. And one true evidence of that collective effort is the multi-actor cooperation agreement that was signed by the three partners to implement the NbS project in the UAE.
The ‘NbS for Climate, Biodiversity & People’ project, funded by HSBC through the global philanthropic fund and established under the global initiative of the Climate Solutions Partnership, led by Emirates Nature-WWF regionally and implemented together with the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MoCCAE), the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), and the International Center for Biosaline Agriculture (ICBA), with the Government of Umm Al Qaiwain as an implementation partner, is already well underway in the region.
“We are very proud to be collaborating with MOCCAE and Emirates Nature-WWF to create a solid Nature-based Solution proposition that will enhance coastal ecosystem resilience as part of our efforts on climate change mitigation and adaptation, while delivering benefits for the UAE at large. The success of this collective action will be determined by the advance collaboration among private and public sector, civil society and scientists to increase interest and participation in scaling-up NbS. At EAD we have stressed greatly on Nbs and we have several programmes of which the most important are the Blue Carbon project launched in 2013 and Abu Dhabi Mangrove Initiative inaugurated in February of this year,” commented Dr Al Dhaheri.
“Our team has been working meticulously on the ground in the UAE to implement NbS that will conserve, restore, and promote resilient coastal ecosystems which deliver multiple socio-economic benefits; such as climate mitigation and adaptation, food security and sustainable social and economic development. The work has already begun in two highly valuable coastal seascape sites that were selected following a robust evaluation and evidence-based process, informed by scientific data and local ecological knowledge. By bringing more partners on board to drive forward quality NbS projects in the region, we look forward to showcasing positive nature and climate outcomes, while enabling conditions and creating new opportunities that can attract blended financing and public-private participation towards effective design and implementation of NbS in the lead up to COP28,” said Laila Abdullatif.
The UAE’s hosting of COP28 indicates an opportunity to demonstrate at-scale action on the ground, and the NbS collaboration is a concrete hands-on solution in conserving blue carbon ecosystems that will support the UAE’s Net Zero 2050 Strategic Initiative.
COP28 will be especially significant as it will provide a platform to present the results of the first global stocktake of national commitments, which in 2023 will assess the collective progress on mitigation, adaptation, and means of implementation of the Paris Agreement. As the host of COP28, the UAE will continue building on its climate ambition towards 2023 and beyond and will reflect the voices of all relevant stakeholders to achieve global consensus for practical climate progress.