Tribute to the UAE’s founding father celebrated his commitment to sustainability and wildlife conservation
The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the largest environmental regulator in the Middle East, held 10 special initiatives in 2018 – designated as the Year of Zayed – to celebrate the environmental legacy of the UAE’s founding father.
To kick off, EAD invited 100 staff members to its Zayed Retreat at Al Wathba Wetland Reserve to brainstorm impactful and innovative ways to commemorate 100 years since the birth of the late Sheikh Zayed. Invited to ‘Dream It, Hack It, Pitch It’, the team brainstormed 80 ideas before the winning initiatives were shortlisted and then executed throughout the year.
Marking major advances in the preservation of the UAE’s biodiversity, EAD officially announced the Sheikh Zayed Protected Areas Network – considered as the world’s largest such declaration in terms of the number of protected areas being declared at once. The network is now made up of 19 terrestrial and marine protected areas and EAD continues to manage them in order to support the vital ecosystems that are an essential part of the UAE’s natural heritage.
Paying homage to Sheikh Zayed’s deep connection to sustainability and commitment to wildlife protection and habitat conservation, EAD – in collaboration with Etihad Airways and eight other participating entities – launched the Abu Dhabi Birdathon, where 10 Greater Flamingos were tagged and released to see which would fly the farthest. The initiative is also helping raise awareness around wetland conservation and aiding EAD’s knowledge of the species’ migratory patterns.
EAD also led another key wildlife release programme this year: two endangered Green Turtles – aptly named Wisdom and Respect, representing the values celebrated during the Year of Zayed – were tagged with satellite transmitters before being released off Bu Tinah Island by H.E. Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD. Tracking showed that the turtles followed the coast towards the Straight of Hormuz and reached Ras Al Hadd in Oman, covering nearly 1100 kilometres in around 30 days. The turtles are now resting in Oman where they will lay four to five clutches of eggs as part of the nesting season.
“The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) is immensely proud to be the steward of Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy, and will strive to emulate his principles towards the land he loved and admired,” said H.E. Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting Secretary General of EAD. His astute foresight has long served as a guiding beacon for the Agency’s responsibility to protect and preserve our country’s flora and fauna, which is an integral part of our national inheritance and identity. In the Year of Zayed, EAD has celebrated the intrinsic bond Sheikh Zayed had with our environment, and aspired to share his legacy of devotion to our nature and native biodiversity with our both our colleagues and the wider global community – for the greater good of generations to come.”
Highlighting EAD’s creative efforts in raising greater awareness around Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy among both local nd international audiences, Laila Yousef Al Hassan, Senior Advisor and Chair of EAD’s Year of Zayed Team at EAD, noted: “The late Sheikh Zayed’s passion for environmental preservation and protection remains an inspiration to us all. To promote his vision of collective action on environmental sustainability, we sent three of our employees – Team Zayed – to Antarctica to witness and study first-hand the impact of global warming on the planet as part of the ClimateForce International Antarctic Expedition 2018. The excursion was chronicled in a documentary titled ‘Zayed’s Antarctic Lights’, whose premiere in Abu Dhabi was attended by more than 200 guests. In collaboration with the Jane Goodall Institute and ClimateForce 2041, we also launched the ClimateForce Challenge to encourage school students in the UAE to reduce and document their carbon footprint.”
EAD also engaged volunteers from the public in environmental protection efforts throughout the Year of Zayed. Under the theme ‘Together We Make the Difference’, EAD, along with several local partners, organised a series of clean-ups at various locations around Abu Dhabi, including the Fisherman’s Wharf, Mangrove National Park, the Abu Dhabi Corniche and Jebel Hafeet. The clean-ups saw over 600 volunteers collect nearly 5,400 kilograms of waste over the year. EAD also produced a digital animation that takes viewers on a visual journey to discover Sheikh Zayed’s immense contributions to environmental conservation, and their impact on the world today.
“To honour the high regard and respect Sheikh Zayed had for people of all abilities, we also organised Nasamaat Al Khair, a workshop that brought together 85 of our employees to create desert plant arrangements with young Emirati people of determination. The interactive, hands-on workshop was facilitated by Enable, an award-winning social enterprise that promotes entrepreneurial skills to people of determination,” Al Hassan added.
The Agency also organised several other internal engagement activities to ensure that Sheikh Zayed’s life and environmental legacy resonated with the entire organisation. Through a combination of themed trivia, selected quotes from Sheikh Zayed, and a field trip to the Etihad Museum and Union House, EAD aimed to share the history and traditions of the UAE’s forefathers, which have leant the nation the spirit and character that defines it today.Email This Post