The Ministry of Environment and Water has officially joined two fundamental international networks composed of policy experts hosted by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP).
The move aims to gain vital knowledge regarding the best global practices in green public procurement and eco-labeling programs as well as share with the international community the UAE’s own experiences on the implementation of relevant programs under the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030.
The UAE is now a part of the Sustainable Public Procurement (SPP) Programme, a global platform of 81 partner organizations that share experiences in implementing SPP policy around the world, which is co-headed by the International Council for Local Environmental Initiatives (ICLEI) and the Korea Environmental Industry and Technology Institute (KEITI).
The group aims to enhance knowledge on SPP and its effectiveness as a tool for promoting a ‘green’ economy and support its implementation on the ground through collaboration and better access to capacity building tools and SPP experts’ support.
The UAE has also become a member of the Consumer Information Programme comprising 52 partner organizations, including 21 governments. This program assists government agencies and stakeholders in their efforts to provide clear, accurate and reliable information about a product’s impact on the planet and the people. It aims to enhance the efficiency of existing information tools such as eco-labels by harnessing essential data and criteria, and explore new communication channels that could effectively reach consumers.
Both programs were established as part of the United Nation’s 10-Year Framework Programme on Sustainable Consumption and Production (10YFP) which was adopted by over 190 countries, including the UAE, at the Rio+20 summit on sustainable development in 2012.
Under the guidance and supervision of the Emirates Green Development Council, which was established by the Cabinet in January 2015, the UAE Green Agenda was implemented across federal and local agencies through 12 thematic programs in the course of the year. One such venture is the Environmental Goods and Services Program, which aims to support economic diversification and job creation by facilitating market and consumer demand for eco-friendly products. The Ministry coordinated the program’s establishment and is initiating the agenda by emphasizing green public procurement and eco-labeling policies and practices, while working with relevant ministries and agencies such as the Ministry of Finance and the Emirates Authority for Standardization and Metrology (ESMA).
“The total government spending in the UAE accounts for 24 per cent of GDP. As the largest consumer, the government’s purchase of green products and services will provide a great opportunity to drive markets towards the green economy. Eco-labeling is the most effective way to inform consumers about the environmental impacts of products and encourage them to make better choices every day,” said Dr. Rashid Ahmed bin Fahad, Minister of Environment and Water.
“Participating in reputable international programs such as these will help us choose the best practices and policy models that will be most suitable in the national context. We also wanted to showcase our steadfast commitment to the green economy efforts through these platforms in our aim to support other countries and contribute to the global community,” he added.
Dr. Arab Hoballah, UNEP’s Chief of Sustainable Lifestyles, Cities and Industry, welcomes the presence of the UAE in 10YFP programmes and says “We look forward to further enhancing Sustainable Production and Consumption (SCP) in the UAE through their active participation in our networks, and thereby contributing to the 2030 Sustainable Development Agenda, particularly the goal on SCP. Sustainable public procurement and access to sustainability information on goods and services are both crucial to achieving SCP. Sustainable public procurement acts as a driver for the supply of sustainable goods and services, while consumer information, such as third party verified labels on sustainability, ensures that all consumers can make informed daily purchasing decisions.”