The Emirate of Sharjah is spearheading the region with projects that will build the foundations for a greener and sustainable future and develop Sharjah into the Environmental Capital of the Middle East.
As part of the emirate’s strong commitment and concern for the environment, authorities are proactively encouraging and inculcating responsible environment practices and a culture of respect for the environment among its residents and citizens, said His Excellency (HE) Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi, Chairman of Sharjah Media Centre.
HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi emphasised that in line with the vision and guidelines of His Highness Sheikh Dr Sultan bin Muhammad Al Qasimi, UAE Supreme Council Member and Ruler of Sharjah, Sharjah has always followed a tradition of respect for nature and ecological resources.
“As an emirate that boasts one of the most diverse and ecologically rich landscapes in the region with a long coastline and picturesque beaches along the Gulf of Oman and Arabian Gulf, rich flora and fauna, precious environment resources such as the mangroves of Kalba and the largest number of parks, wildlife and natural reserves in the country, Sharjah is conscious of its responsibility to protect its environment and natural resources,” said HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi.
“Sharjah has undertaken a number of historic and ground-breaking initiatives in the past few years to ensure its residents embrace best and healthy environment practices, policies that are in accordance with internationally recognised conventions and guidelines by the United Nations for sustainable development and progress for all,” he added.
The communities in Sharjah are encouraged to adopt an environmentally sustainable lifestyle through various awareness and education initiatives.
Sharjah is the third largest emirate in the UAE, and also has the highest development rate. All development activities in Sharjah are mandated to follow sustainable development practices. In an effort to protect the environment in the midst of rapid growth and development in the Emirate, the Sharjah Government and Bee’ah have been very proactive towards activities that promote environmental protection and awareness. The Government has pushed for increases in the greenery areas in the Emirate that will not only provide recreational areas for families, but will also help reduce the environmental footprint.
The launching of the much acclaimed Bee’ah initiative in 2007 by the emirate was a huge step in this quest for a healthier environment. Bee’ah is dedicated to providing sustainable solutions in environmental and resource management through integrated waste management, renewable energy, facilities management and sustainable development. Besides, it also offers environmental consulting and research by providing education and awareness about environmental preservation.
Through its waste collection division Tandeef, Bee’ah plays a vital role in providing coherent and sustainable environmental solutions to meet the challenges of the community it serves. Through its team of 3,500 employees and a fleet of more than 550 waste collection vehicles, Bee’ah not only keeps the emirate clean but it also recycles thousands of tonnes of waste material for reuse and for providing energy to the community.
Sharjah is also in the process of setting up the region’s first and world’s largest Waste-to-Energy facility which will use state-of-the-art gasification technology. The Waste-to-Energy plant by Bee’ah will recycle 400,000 tonnes of waste annually to generate 85 megawatts of energy.
“All these initiatives aspire to protect the emirate’s environment and its precious natural resources, encourage a healthy lifestyle and reduce the emirate’s ecological footprint,” HE Sheikh Sultan bin Ahmed Al Qasimi pointed out.
It is worth mentioning that despite the massive economic development, industrialisation and considerable electricity consumption in the country, the UAE remains within the ‘green zone’ in ecological terms, according to the World Health Organisation (WHO) guidelines.
A WHO report for the Eastern Mediterranean, Regional Strategy for Health and Environment 2014-2019, has noted that “the UAE has a very low mortality resulting from environmental consequences such as air pollution compared to other countries in the region.”
The UAE Ministry of Environment and Water’s Air Quality Department also asserts that the country’s particulate matter (pm) of 2.5 levels do not exceed WHO guidelines. This is a result of the importance the country attaches to improving air quality by achieving 90 per cent of the WHO Air Quality guidelines as a target by 2021.
Bee’ah Rejects World Bank Report on the UAE
Meanwhile Bee’ah has rejected the recent findings of the World Bank in its Little Green Data Book identifying the UAE as the “country with the most polluted air”. In a press statement, the premier Sharjah environment agency asserted that contrary to the World Bank claim, the UAE is making remarkable progress towards environment leadership.
“The UAE National Agenda which advances the goals of the UAE Vision 2021 aims to achieve such leadership by ensuring a high quality of life for its citizens and residents. This pays equal attention to the environment and the results thus far confirm that the country has undertaken significant efforts to improve the ambient air quality as an important component associated with quality of life. Accordingly, air quality is one of the leading priorities under the UAE’s National Agenda because it is associated directly with human health, the environment and its impact on the economy,” said Bee’ah in its statement.
The UAE and the Ministry of Environment and Water have developed systems to evaluate the environmental impact of certain projects. For example, the UAE Cabinet has taken the decision to regulate crusher and quarrying operations and cement and asbestos production, the so-called ‘activities of special nature which affect air quality.’ Such steps will ensure that industries responsible for potential pollution are kept within safe parameters, as designated by leading international bodies, said Bee’ah.
“There are currently 46 air quality monitoring stations in the UAE, that the UAE government has directed special attention to in the direction of developing legislative frameworks necessary to reduce pollution and emissions on this path towards improving air quality and achieving sustainability. The Ministry of Environment and Water has recently signed an agreement with seven governmental agencies in preparation for the launch of a ‘UAE Air Quality Network’. This will allow for more concise monitoring of the environmental progress. Besides, the agreement aims to further improve air quality by reducing emissions from both industry and transportation,” emphasised Bee’ah.
Bee’ah also drew attention to the fact that compared to the United States, China and India, which are among the countries discussed in the World Bank study, the UAE is lesser populated as a country.
“In terms of population, UAE is currently a little above 10 million. This is an important consideration when this country is ranked beside the likes of the United States, India and China – which have populations of above 300 million, 1.2 billion and 1.3 billion respectively. The UAE is considerably smaller and significantly less populated than the neighbouring nations in The Little Green Data Book. The country’s overall environmental impact is much lower than that of other nations. The progress that the UAE is currently making is testament to this fact and organisations like Bee’ah are experiencing significant approval and compliance within the community,” said the Sharjah environment company.
Besides, the UAE is a young country undergoing remarkable development. The statistics presented in The Little Green Data Book are merely a snapshot of a remarkable story and journey towards prosperity and responsibility, it added.
The Gulf Ecosystem Research Centre, which was jointly established by Bee’ah and the American University of Sharjah (AUS) to promote environmental research within the region, runs and manages the Air Quality Monitoring Systems project. Researchers at the centre collect data of gas emissions and particles, and analyse the results gathered from the Air Quality Monitoring System, through a control room and server located in both the Bee’ah Headquarters and on AUS’ campus.
An additional supportive initiative by the emirate is supervised by the Environment and Protected Areas Authority of Sharjah, which aims at preserving the precious ecological and wildlife resources in the emirate.