One Planet - One Goal

Jun 6, 2017

June 5th marks the biggest UN celebration of the environment and this year ‘Connecting with Nature’ was chosen as a theme for the World Environment Day (WED). Today we will also be witnessing the launch of the historic Ocean Conference, to be held in New York from 5-9 June 2017. The United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) together with more than 25 national governments are joining the global push to restore the wellbeing of our oceans.

As a kid, I used to think that getting in touch with nature meant going to parks and heading to the beach on weekends. Years after, I learned that nature is usually closer than we think. It is deeply rooted in every small action of rational consumption and responsible production. Whatever we do our planet now, will come back to the future generations.

Since its first celebration in 1974, (WED) has been used by the different UN organs to raise awareness about the challenges our planet is facing and the potential we see on the horizon. It is indeed a great opportunity to shed light on the critical environmental issues.

Environment happens to be at the heart of the World’s 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development where 7 or more goals of the 17 revolve around preservation and conservation of environment, particularly goals 13,14 and 15 which focus on climate action and life below water and on land.

In his speech on climate action in New York last month, UN Secretary General, António Guterres, stressed on the threatening results of climate change and how accelerating they are. Climate change affects every geo-physical system our lives depend on in every spot of the world. You can imagine what negative impact climate change has on the business stability, property and individual potential.

But climate is only part of the overall environmental change worldwide. More irrational consumption and inconsiderate production adds up to the severity of the problems we are facing. Connecting to the environment means also humans need lower carbon footprint, less fossil fuels, and a growth that does not increase carbon footprint based on green energy.

Years ago, UNDP country office and several counterparts in the United Arab Emirates (UAE) have started taking serious steps towards a greener economy. Some of the milestones worth mentioning include – but are not limited to – UNDP report 'Energy Subsidies in the Arab World' , UNDP 'State of Energy Report of Dubai 2014', as well as UNDP’s Clean Development Mechanism (CDM) projects in the UAE. We are still committed to work side by side with the UAE in line with UAE National Environmental Strategy (NES) and National Environmental Action Plan (NEAP).

Although six of the world’s ten largest energy subsidizers are found in the Arab world, an urge to move faster towards Green Economy in this part of the world is arising. More than 80% of the world’s energy still comes from Fossil fuels, a shocking fact that can only be mitigated by the rising trend of Major oil producers to provide cleaner alternatives to diversify their economies towards a brighter future.

In the UAE, the government has identified energy diversification and climate change as being strategic priorities, even though, the UAE economy remains both energy and carbon-intensive, even by the standards of the region. In November 2016, HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer announced the global launch of World Green Economy Organisation WGEO at the 22nd session of the Conference of the Parties in Marrakech, a step that reflects the unyielding hard work to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals. WGEO is working hand in hand with UNDP office in the UAE as well as UNDP’s Arab States Regional Centre in Amman.

Yet, more action is needed not only on national and regional levels but all over the globe. That could mean actions ranging from the intentional avoidance of buying goods in plastic packages to more strategic actions. We need to make changes to the way we live and how we consume. 

World Environment Day is for everyone, everywhere. The celebration has already started and even the slightest gesture of kindness to our nature matter.

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