ABU DHABI, 7th March, 2019 (WAM) — A high-level gathering of local and global government officials and representatives of international environmental agencies, non-profit organisations and private sector companies discussed efforts to combat marine pollution in Abu Dhabi and around the world, at special roundtables convened by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, EAD, on the sidelines of World Ocean Summit 2019.
The first meeting themed, “Cleaning Abu Dhabi’s Marine Environment” focused on advancing action to tackle the issue of marine litter including plastics, micro-plastics, discarded fishing gear, and other types of marine waste in the waters of Abu Dhabi, while the “Saving the Rivers, Saving the Oceans” session discussed ways of tackling plastic pollution in coastal and riverine areas in developing countries across Africa, Asia and the Middle East.
Among the participants of the Abu Dhabi roundtable were Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of EAD; Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Acting Secretary-General of EAD; Ahmad Omar Abdulla, CEO of Abu Dhabi Polymers Company (Borouge), and representatives from the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development, BP Middle East, Abu Dhabi Ports, Tadweer, the Mohamed bin Zayed Species Conservation Fund and Emirates Nature-WWF.
The roundtable was also attended by Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment; Peter Thomson, the United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Envoy for the Ocean; Nicholas Hardman-Mountford, Head of the Oceans and Natural Resources division at The Commonwealth Secretariat; Prof. Khaled Abdel-Hay Ramadan from the Egyptian National Water Research Centre; Mohamed A. A. Elkari, the Sudanese Ambassador to the UAE, and representatives from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development, Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, the Kenyan and Ethiopian Embassies in the UAE; Pepsi Co., and Shell – among others.
Dr. Al Zeyoudi said, “Healthy oceans are essential to our very existence. However, with statistics indicating that there will be more plastic in the oceans than fish by 2050, the world must step up and commit to a more concrete action plan to generate solutions that can reverse these statistics and preserve a healthy ocean ecosystem for the future.”
Al Mubarak added, “The oceans are a shared responsibility. Raising awareness and focusing measures on the dire issue of plastic pollution requires coordinated policy and funding, as well as the implementation of innovative blue technology. Our global partnerships are a critical pillar in facilitating collective action, and this roundtable represents a diverse commitment from stakeholders across both the public and private sectors.”
Dr. Al Dhaheri said, “These meetings allowed us to align on our priorities moving forward, and provided an opportunity for all the stakeholders present to share their views on how we can enable effective local and regional cooperation towards mitigation efforts aimed at reducing marine litter and pollution.”
Nearly 13 million tonnes of plastic enter the world’s oceans each year, causing over US$13 billion of damage each year to marine ecosystems. This waste is causing significant damage to the total value of the ocean’s assets, such as fisheries, coral reefs, shipping lanes and carbon absorption, altogether estimated at $24 trillion.
Peter Thomson said, “The pollution that comes from our cities goes into the ocean. Sewage from so many developing countries goes straight into the lagoons or coastal ecosystems. The excess nitrogen and phosphorous that come from our agricultural fields go into rivers and are taken into the sea, causing eutrophication and dead zones. And industrial pollution is also coming down into oceans. The poor ocean is like a dumping ground and we have to stop that.”
The summit, held under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, is being hosted by the Government of Abu Dhabi and is supported by EAD and DED.