"The more you get into the Footprint, the more doors and avenues open. There are 6,000 data points that go into this indicator. Now we can take on the challenge to take this knowledge and try to really advance it on a policy level."
Razan Al Mubarak (EWS -- WWF)

United Arab Emirates

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When, in 2007, the United Arab Emirates was reported as the country with the largest Ecological Footprint per person in the world, officials were determined to learn why. The government launched Al Basama Al Beeiya (the Ecological Footprint Initiative) to understand the numbers and methodology behind the ranking.  (Learn more about the UAE’s Ecological Footprint).

What began as a national effort aimed at ”measuring and understanding the impact of our ways of living on the planet,” Al Basama Al Beeiya has grown into an initiative influencing decision-making at all levels—from individual households choosing what to buy at the supermarket to national leaders deciding how to reform the electricity sector.

UAE scientists are working with Global Footprint Network to test the potential of various policies to reduce the Footprint of the electricity sector, one of the largest components of the country’s outsized ecological demand. Local partners on the ground, including Emirates Environmental Group, Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI) and Emirates Wildlife Society - WWF are working to build support for large-scale change and teach people about action they can take in their own lives, through efforts such as this educational video.

Most importantly, the UAE’s engagement with the Footprint has helped spur a shift in the way officials think about ecological supply and demand, and the actions they need to take to remain competitive facing the future. The Emirates has now earmarked $15 billion into the development of alternative energy sources (more than the U.S.) and the oil-rich state is looking to become of one of the world’s premier providers of solar energy.  The UAE has also dedicated $22 billion to create Masdar City —a zero-waste, car-free eco-city designed to serve as a global model for sustainable development—and has created Masdar Institute of Science and Technology (MIST), a research institute dedicated to developing cutting-edge renewable energy solutions. (Learn More).