The United Arab Emirates is one of the countries with the largest deficits between “income” in the form of biocapacity and “expenses” of resources, Razan Al Mubarak, Director, Emirates Wildlife Society, told attendees. In 2007, the country adopted a national Ecological Footprint Initiative to address that gap.
In the latter 20th century, the UAE enjoyed explosive economic growth, largely due to the production of oil and gas, and that wealth has helped support some of the largest per-capita resource consumption in the world. On the other hand, the country has very low biocapacity, and must import most of its resources from abroad. When UAE leaders learned the country topped the world in per-capita Ecological Footprint, they were at first skeptical of the data, Mubarak said. But with support from local NGOs advancing the Footprint Initiative, “there became increasing understanding of and support for the data. From there, there became fantastic momentum toward, ‘what are we going to do about it?’
“The more you get into the Footprint, the more doors and avenues open,” Mubarak said. “There are 6,000 data points that go into this indicator. How do we take this momentum and try to really advance it on a policy level? In my country, water and electricity are the key pressure areas. Demand is exceeding supply.” Masdar Institute, a research institute dedicated to green innovation, has gotten behind the initiative. With support from Global Footprint Network researchers, it is looking into how various policy interventions could change the Footprint of the country’s energy sector.
Learn more about the UAE’s Ecological Footprint Initiative.