Sustainable communities in the UAE have become a key part of the solution by providing practical lifestyle solutions.
Inayat-ur-Rahman, Business Editor
With the goal of topping the Global Food Security Index by 2051, enhancing sustainable food production is one of the cornerstones of the UAE’s strategy. Expo 2020 is helping the UAE’s leadership to put the spotlight this topic with its forthcoming theme week on ‘Food, Agriculture & Livelihoods’.
With the UAE hosting the COP28 climate summit next year and targeting net-zero emissions by 2050, sustainable communities in the country today have the perfect opportunity to showcase themselves as global exemplars of a low-carbon future.
This was revealed by Yousif Al Mutawa, CEO of Sharjah Sustainable City, during an exclusive interview with Gulf Today.
“While the spectre of climate change is real, it is up to us to convert that challenge into opportunities for transformation. Sustainable and self-sufficient communities in the UAE are today the champions of that transformation, shaping the way towards a greener world and creating a ripple effect of climate action.” Al Mutawa added.
“Their unbeatable combination of science, nature, integrated lifestyle, and enduring commercial value represents the sustainable way forward for our cities in the decades to come – a blueprint for our future that we need to embrace with greater urgency.”
“Sustainable communities in the UAE – such as Sharjah Sustainable City, The Sustainable City – Dubai and Masdar City in Abu Dhabi – have become a key part of the solution by providing practical lifestyle solutions that are compatible with our increased demand for food, water, and natural resources.”
“We need to examine the role of sustainable communities through a cultural, social, environmental, and economic lens, in addition to acknowledging their vital contribution to the national food basket.”
“At the heart of this holistic philosophy lies the simple fact that people are always looking for smarter and more sustainable answers to their everyday needs – whether it is driving electric vehicles, using solar PV installations at home, storing the energy to offset high utility bills, or cultivating their own crop of vegetables to enjoy at home.”
Al Mutawa mentioned that sustainable real estate developments should, therefore, create the right infrastructure for communities to minimise their environmental impact and reduce their carbon footprint while promoting a happy and inclusive lifestyle. Green spines as part of a community masterplan can provide urban farming spaces for residents to grow their own produce, whilst biodomes incorporating hydroponic technology can facilitate vertical farming.”
“In addition, on-site water treatment plants can recycle wastewater for irrigation, and integrated biogas plants can convert organic waste into an energy resource while residues can be used as fertiliser for landscaping and vertical farming, thus contributing towards a circular economy that will provide the basis for a sustainable future.” Al Mutawa added.
“Fully integrated communities can offer us valuable insights into the complex interlinkages of a circular economy – for instance, between urban farming, sustainable food production, and the solar energy that powers them. The World Economic Forum estimates that the global circular economy will contribute up to $4.5 trillion in economic benefits by 2030, although only 8.6 percent of the world is currently circular.”
“It is this immense potential that the UAE would like to harness, and sustainable urban developments can be a powerful ally in delivering that goal. The UAE Circular Economy Policy, issued last year, states that “We can do more and better with less, breaking the traditional linkages between economic growth and environmental degradation.” Self-sustained communities offering a vibrant and eco-friendly lifestyle will not only find a deep resonance with that policy, but also help unlock beneficial opportunities for the economy.”
Answering to a question about how else can real estate projects offer solutions for a sustainable future, he noted that with the latest report of the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) warning of irreversible changes in climate in the absence of immediate action, technology must play a central role in mitigating these effects.
“Not just in food security, sustainable communities must leverage smart technology to drive efficiencies across all aspects of the community. Solutions such as smart homes which automatically switch off lights or AC when not in use, solar PV installations connected to energy storage systems to make use of the sun’s energy even at night, clean mobility solutions such as EV charging infrastructure – all of these elements play a role.”
“Empowered by smart planning and technology, sustainable homes can be future-proof and put their owners ahead of the curve.”