2020 marks start of ‘decade of action’ UAE and international policymakers declare ahead of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2020
2020 should be the start of a ‘decade of action’ to enable the world to work together to meet the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals, UAE ministers and senior business leaders declared today ahead of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW).
ADSW 2020, one of the largest sustainability gatherings in the world and a platform for accelerating sustainable development, is taking place in the UAE capital from January 11-18. Held under the Patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, ADSW 2020 will host heads of state, government ministers, policymakers, industry experts, innovators and future sustainability leaders.
The 17 SDGs were adopted by all UN member states as part of the 2030 Agenda for Sustainable Development, and the UN has called for a “decade of ambitious action” to deliver the Goals by 2030. Achieving targets set under the SDGs could open up US$ 12 trillion of market opportunities worldwide, and create 380 million jobs, according to estimates, with as many as 12.4 million jobs generated in the Middle East and North Africa region by 2030.
2020 will also mark a year of preparation for the UAE, as it prepares for its half centennial in 2021 and looks forward to the next 50 years of development. Through its Vision 2021 agenda and Green Growth Strategy, the UAE has one of the most progressive sustainable development strategies in the region, and will achieve a number of key sustainability targets this year, including the completion of the 800 megawatt third phase of the Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai.
Speaking at the press conference to launch ADSW 2020 today, His Excellency Dr Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said: “Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week presents to the world a shining example of the UAE’s active involvement in tackling the challenges faced by the international community – an approach that reflects the visionary commitment of our leaders to spearheading the way to a cleaner and better tomorrow.”
He pointed out that ADSW 2020 follows the UN’s global call for a decade of action to deliver the SDGs by 2030, as well as coinciding with the UAE’s year of preparation for the country’s golden jubilee. The Minister noted that in setting the tone and outlining strategies for the next five decades, ADSW 2020 will up the ante on sustainability.
“Recognizing that young people help fuel our sustainability drive, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment will host the Climate Innovations Exchange – CLIX – as part of its engagements during ADSW 2020. CLIX connects entrepreneurs and investors to deliver sustainable climate solutions. The event has marked year-on-year growth of 67 per cent in applications and 54 per cent in participating countries,” he concluded.
“The UAE is aligned with the global sustainability agenda and is committed to being a regional leader in sustainable development, as evidenced by our hosting of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week,” said Dr Sultan bin Ahmad Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar. “ADSW brings together global leaders and policymakers from a wide range of fields to address sustainability and explore how we can work together to leverage digital transformation and other technological trends to make a better world for all of us.”
Commenting on the role of energy in accelerating sustainable development, His Excellency Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, said: “Energy is at the heart of the UN Sustainable Development Goals and this is why we are proud of our principal partnership with ADSW 2020. This catalyst platform not only cements Abu Dhabi’s position as a global capital of sustainability, but it brings together all the different sectors and associated programmes to bind efforts and boost efficiencies in shaping a sustainable future.
“This year’s ADSW theme ‘accelerating sustainable development’ is timely and important as it emphasises the need to capitalize on digitization and emerging technologies and to prioritize our actions to reduce environmental footprint. It resonates with the DoE’s drive to accelerate Abu Dhabi’s energy transition to enable economic growth, security of supply and environmental sustainability. We are committed to making the 2020 edition of ADSW yet another success and we look forward to meeting industry stakeholders and interacting with our young leaders and community members to involve them in our journey towards a new energy era that enables sustainable growth and a cleaner, healthier living environment.”
ADSW has provided a global platform for the sustainability community every year since 2008. In order to align more closely with the UN SDGs and the UAE Vision 2021, ADSW last year widened its scope beyond renewable energy to enable the most relevant conversations that can drive economic growth and sustainable development. ADSW 2020 will again feature six key pillars: Energy & Climate Change, Water & Food, the Future of Mobility, Space, Biotechnology in Health, and Technology for Good. Cutting across these pillars and all programmes throughout ADSW 2020 will be the themes of Artificial Intelligence, Community and Youth.
Khaled Al Qubaisi, CEO Aerospace, Renewables & ICT at Mubadala Investment Company, said: “In 2008, Abu Dhabi opened its doors to the international sustainability community for an event that has evolved into a week that brings together policy makers, industry experts, technology pioneers and the next generation of sustainability leaders. Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has grown from 11,000 attendees representing 84 countries to 38,000 attendees representing 175 countries in 2019, making it one of the world’s leading sustainability gatherings. This annual week-long gathering has become a platform and a catalyst for sharing knowledge, implementing strategies and creating solutions to drive progress and we expect the 2020 edition to be our most in-depth and comprehensive program to date.”
ADSW 2020 will feature the 10th Assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), taking place on January 11-12. Delegates will reaffirm the global renewable energy agenda and examine the role renewables will play in alleviating climate change and increasing sustainability.
“To meet climate objectives and achieve the sustainable development goals by 2030, the speed of renewable energy adoption should accelerate significantly,” said Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA. “The benefits of doing so have never been clearer. Renewables are delivering low-cost clean energy, improving health, creating jobs and transforming economies. The opportunities presented by energy transformation will be central to discussions at the IRENA Assembly – and the pursuit of them will shape the decade of action ahead.”
The week will also mark the second edition of the #WeAreCommitted campaign. Launched by ADSW and Masdar, #WeAreCommitted is a global call to action, providing everyone with a platform for sharing commitments to accelerate sustainable development. The campaign, which is being led by the UAE, has already engaged stakeholders from around the world, ranging from government ministers and business leaders to NGOs and members of the local community.
“Thanks to its partners, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week has expanded beyond renewable energy to encompass every aspect of sustainable development, stimulating debate and inspiring concrete action to address global sustainability challenges,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar, host of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.
“The statistics speak for themselves: since 2008, attendance has more than tripled to over 35,000, while the number of participating countries has more than doubled to 175. The wide scope of ADSW today shows the size of the business opportunity presented by clean technologies and the sustainability sector, with deals worth an estimated US$11 billion announced last year alone.”
The anchor event of ADSW 2020 will be The Future Sustainability Summit, where senior policy makers, business leaders, entrepreneurs, academics, and others will examine how advances in technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data and the Internet of Things will accelerate sustainable development.
Returning to ADSW this year is the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum (ADSFF), which aims to drive dialogue on the adoption of sustainable financing and investing in activities with positive economic, social and environmental impacts. Hosted by Abu Dhabi Global Market, the forum brings together global industry leaders and decision makers from the sustainability and financial communities.
Richard Teng, CEO of the Abu Dhabi Global Market Financial Services Regulatory Authority said: “We are pleased to be part of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week again this year as we join efforts with our partners in progressing UAE’s Sustainable Development Goals and developing a sustainable knowledge-based economy. We will be hosting the second edition of the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum after a successful inaugural edition in 2019. ADSFF 2020 will see a gathering of key global and local stakeholders working collectively in advancing the sustainable finance agenda with key efforts to be announced.
“The continuing success and growth of the UAE’s economy remains a key focus of ADGM’s agenda. As its International Financial Centre, we will do our part to advocate sustainable finance initiatives and efforts that contribute towards the country’s growth and the region’s well-being”
Demonstrating the importance of involving wider communities in sustainable development, ADSW also features dedicated platforms for women and youth, giving them a voice in the sustainability debate. The Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) forum will return to ADSW, with influential women of all ages sharing real-world experiences of working in the sustainability industry.