- His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi: Marine environment holds great significance in the UAE and plays an integral role in our everyday lives
Dubai, UAE, September 23, 2017: The United Arab Emirates, in partnership with the European Union and Fiji, hosted a high-level roundtable during the 72nd United Nations General Assembly on enhancing and mobilizing investments to promote a sustainable ocean economy that supports climate change mitigation and adaptation efforts.
Building on the UN Ocean Conference, held in June 2017, the roundtable discussed ways to enhance preparations for the Our Ocean Conference (Malta) in October 2017 and COP23 (Bonn) in November 2017.
The roundtable was held in the presence of His Excellency Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment of the UAE, and His Excellency Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and COP23 High-Level Champion, Fiji. It brought together government and business leaders, financial institutions, international organizations and academics to build a shared view on near-term investment and policy priorities, and, most importantly, to strengthen partnerships to benefit the sustainable ocean economy.
In his welcoming remarks, His Excellency Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi underlined the ever-increasing importance of oceans and marine resources, especially with the adoption of the Sustainable Development Goal 14 on the conservation and sustainable use of the oceans, seas and marine resources.
“The marine environment has been a significant component of the UAE’s environmental resources and continues to play an integral role in our everyday lives. The discovery of oil strengthened the position of our marine environment as a mainstay of our economic resources. Our marine wealth is equally precious for its rich biodiversity and for enabling the country’s significant achievements in the transportation, desalination, tourism and entertainment industries,” Dr. Al Zeyoudi said.
The Minister added: “The UAE is home to a wide range of marine species including green turtle, fin whale and dugong. The country is also rich in “Blue Carbon” coastal and marine ecosystems, such as mangroves, tidal marshes and sea grass, which protect our shorelines, provide nursery grounds and habitats for marine species and support coastal tourism. We also recognize their contribution in mitigating climate change through carbon sequestration and storage.”
Dr. Al Zeyoudi emphasized that the UAE is taking proactive measures to ensure the sustainability of these valuable natural assets and to meet its national objective for economic diversification. He noted that the UAE’s efforts in the field of marine environment conservation are three-fold and include: protection from pollution due to oil and other harmful materials, protection of marine environment ecosystems, and strengthening the country’s resilience to the impacts of climate change.
His Excellency also highlighted a set of important policies and national plans in the UAE’s marine environment protection portfolio, such as the National Plan for the Sustainability of Marine and Coastal Environment, the National Strategy for Biodiversity (2015-2021) and the UAE Green Development Strategy, as well as the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 and the National Climate Change Plan.
In conclusion, His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, reiterated the UAE's commitment to facilitating dialogue and cooperation with the global community on the sustainable management of the marine environment and resources that offer immense social and economic value.
His Excellency Inia Seruiratu, Minister for Agriculture, Rural and Maritime Development and National Disaster Management and Fiji High-Level Champion, highlighted the necessity to engage with different stakeholders in order to achieve a sustainable economy. He said that, “whilst supporting policy and incentive frameworks are important, the involvement of the private sector, local communities, civil societies and other institutions is crucial to ensure successful implementation”.
The Fiji high-level champion urged and challenged partners in the room to come up with innovative and transformative approaches, technologies, and financing, to accelerate climate action and build a more resilient ocean sector.
The Minister also informed the high-level participants of a planned Oceans Pathway that the Fiji COP23 Presidency will be introducing during COP23 in November. The Oceans Pathway serves to ensure that the nexus between oceans and climate change is integrated into the UNFCC process by 2020.
In his remarks, His Excellency Frans Timmermans, First Vice-President of the European Commission, highlighted the importance of raising awareness of the challenges that oceans face. He emphasized that the responsibility for preserving the world’s oceans does not fall on one government or sector, but is rather the collective responsibility that all sectors, governments and communities share. He also reiterated the urgent need for all concerned parties and stakeholders to work together in shaping a global strategy to curb plastic waste entering the oceans.