The statement of Abu Dhabi government in its Economic Vision 2030 and its intent to "build a sustainable and diversified, high value-added economy that is well integrated into the global economy and that provides more accessible and higher-value opportunities for all its citizens and residents," encompasses economics and social development - two of the three organising principles of sustainable development, according to a publication of the Abu Dhabi Council for Economic Development, ADCED.
An article in the latest issue of ADCED's journal, 'Economic Review', says the 2005 World Summit on Social Development identified sustainable development goals - such as economic development, social development and environmental protection - as the three main pillars of sustainability that are not mutually exclusive and can be mutually reinforcing.
These sustainable development goals, the report said, are central to Abu Dhabi's holistic approach towards economic growth. Tourism, one of the main pillars of Abu Dhabi's drive towards economic diversification, falls under the remit of the Tourism and Culture Authority - Abu Dhabi (TCA). The TCA's stated aim is to move Abu Dhabi towards an economically sustainable tourism destination, towards a socially-responsible tourism destination, and towards an environmentally friendly tourism destination.
Similarly, the Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) is tasked with ensuring that economic growth and environmental protection advance together. This is achieved by focusing efforts on four main cornerstones: regulation, conservation, education and awareness. In its corporate brochure, EAD states, "We work constantly to ensure that the economic vision for Abu Dhabi is achieved in a way that ensures a sustainable future for our emirate, the wellbeing of its residents and a good quality of life for all, now and in the future." Masdar, a subsidiary of the Mubadala development company, was established in 2006 with a mandate from the Abu Dhabi government to advance renewable development, investment and commercialisation. Masdar's domestic portfolio now accounts for about 68 percent of the GCC's renewable energy capacity, with its projects including Shams 1, a 100MW concentrated solar power initiative in the Western Region of Abu Dhabi and numerous other projects in the pipeline both in the UAE and abroad, the report said.
The Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council, UPC, is also taking sustainability seriously through its Estidama initiative ('Estidama' is the Arabic word for sustainability). Estidama began two years ago and is the first programme of its kind that is tailored to the Middle East region. In the immediate term, Estidama is focused on the rapidly changing built environment. It is in this area that the UPC is making significant strides to influence projects under design, development or construction within the emirate of Abu Dhabi.
Abu Dhabi is also playing a central role on the international sustainability stage. In 2014, the first edition of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, ADSW, welcomed over 30,000 participants from 150 countries to discuss pressing global issues such as renewable energy, water challenges in arid regions, food security and climate change.
In 2015, from January 19th to 22nd, ADSW featured the World Future Energy Summit, hosted by Masdar, the International Water Summit, IWS, and the EcoWASTE Exhibition. One of the event's highlights was the 6th annual Awards of the Zayed Future Energy Prize.
The dollar four million annual award in five categories was established by the UAE leadership to recognise and award excellence in renewable energy and sustainability across the globe in honour of late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, Founding Father of the UAE, who championed sustainability and environmental stewardship.
The report ended by saying that from the above, it is clear that Abu Dhabi government takes sustainability seriously.