The WWF Living Planet Report: Globally, overconsumption is rising and biodiversity is declining, but it is not too late
The indicators in the Living Planet Report 2014 are showing a global decline of 50% in biodiversity in the last 4 decades, due to increasing pressure on natural systems. The report is also showing that in order for us to sustain global consumption trends, we would need 1.5 Earths - we only have one. This means that we are using resources faster than the planet can replenish them.
Since the last report, the UAE’s Ecological Footprint went down from 8.4 global hectares to 7.75 global hectares, putting the UAE in the third place again after Kuwait and Qatar, and before Denmark and Belgium.
Commenting on the results of the report, H.E. Dr. Rashid Ahmed Bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water and the Chairman of the UAE’s Ecological Footprint Initiative said: “Despite the important improvement in the results, the UAE’s per capita consumption remains high and unsustainable, and addressing this effectively requires our continued attention and proactive efforts to develop programmes that aim to reduce our consumption with a special focus on reduction of carbon footprint, which comprises 74% of our total ecological footprint in the UAE.”
H.E. Dr. Bin Fahad commended efforts made by the UAE’s Ecological Footprint Initiative since it is establishment in 2007, as well as the economic, social and environmental programmes that the country implemented in the last few years. He also confirmed the need to continue working on alignment of efforts among the different initiatives and authorities to put environmental issues on an equal footing to economic and social activities. Putting the environment as an integral part of our development is at the heart of the UAE 2021 vision, which aims to make the UAE amongst the best countries in the world.
H.E. continued: “As we celebrate the UAE’s economic achievements this year, where we were ranked 12th in the world in the Global Competitiveness Report issued by the World Economic Forum, we are eager to demonstrate similar results regarding the UAE’s environmental achievements.”
“The UAE launched the Ecological Footprint Initiative in 2007 to better understand the country’s footprint,” said H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and Vice-Chair of the UAE’s Ecological Footprint Initiative.
H.E. Al Mubarak continued: “The UAE Ecological Footprint Initiative is bringing like-minded organizations from different sectors together to promote collaboration and alignment and it has also encouraged science-based policy development, such as the recent development of the UAE lighting regulation that is in effect across the country, to support decision-makers in reducing the country’s carbon emissions. Such policies can help the country reduce its carbon footprint and provide more sustainable choices to consumers”.
Ida Tillisch, Director General of EWS-WWF and the secretariat of the UAE’s Ecological Footprint Initiative, commented: “In the UAE, development choices should consider the full cycle of any activity. For example, when constructing a building, water and energy consumption should be factored in at the design stage as well as when the building is in use. By making such smart choices, we can reduce the use of natural resources.”
Ida Tillisch, continued: “The Living Planet report is telling us that our economic prosperity relies on having a healthy environment. By continuing business as usual, the world will put humanity’s wellbeing at risk. The Living Planet Report also shows us that solutions that ensure a balance between economic and environmental wellbeing are possible. Although the solutions maybe challenging, several countries including the UAE, have taken steps towards such solutions, and the partners of the UAE Ecological Footprint Initiative will continue to collaborate to assist the UAE to take further steps towards a sustainable future for our future generations”.