Sustainability: the United Arab Emirates (and not only) protagonists of 2023

Sustainability: the United Arab Emirates (and not only) protagonists of 2023

The unexpected commitment of the Persian Gulf Federation for a "greener" tomorrow and the comparison with other countries: let's take stock…

Sustainability: wind farm in the desert
A wind farm in the desert of the United Arab Emirates observed by an inhabitant

Sustainability as a priority for future generations: this is the motto that the United Arab Emirates have adopted for 2023, declared "the year of sustainability". With a strong commitment to the protection oftechnology, circular economy and renewable energy, the Arabian Peninsula nation is trying to prove to the world that it is at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Significant investments and concrete actions are the basis of the ambitious project to become a global reference point for sustainability. 

But what happens in the rest of the world? How are other countries dealing with these crucial issues for the future of the planet?

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Sustainability: the Terra pavilion in Dubai
The “Terra” zero impact pavilion, designed for the Dubai Expo 2020 (Photo: iStock)

From oil to clean energy: Abu Dhabi's challenge for COP28

The UAE will have its sights set on it in 2023, the year it hosts the twenty-eighth conference of the parties (COP28) of the UN on climate. Under the leadership of its leader, Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed al Nahyan, the country is determined that the event will set a unique precedent in global cooperation to tackle climate problems.

Not only it turned out the first country in the Middle East and North Africa region and XNUMXth globally for infrastructure quality in the United Nations Sustainable Development Index, but also promoted a green economy initiative, started over ten years ago, with the aim of strengthening clean energy production, planning eco-friendly citiestechnology, protect biodiversity, rationalize natural resources and efficiently manage waste.

The decision to elect Sultan al-Jaber, CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Oil Company, a multinational oil company that produces around 28 million barrels of crude oil a day, has raised many concerns.

However, over the past 15 years, the UAE has demonstrated a genuine commitment to sustainability, investing a total of $50 billion in renewable energy and clean technologies and planning to invest another $50 billion in the coming years.

This ambitious move could indicate that the oil sector too has realized the economic and social potential of clean energy. It will be interesting to see how the country tackles this challenge during COP28.

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Sustainability: Al Jaber in Abu Dhabi
COP28 President-designate Ahmed Al Jaber giving a keynote speech for the World Summit on the Future of Energy in Abu Dhabi (Photo: Masdar Corporate)

Green Asia: towards a sustainable future for China and Japan

Moving eastwards from the United Arab Emirates, it becomes inevitable to speak of the 'elephant in the room'. If China has gained a reputation as the world's leading polluter in recent years, it is true that considerable efforts have been made to lighten the gigantic ecological footprint of this populous and complex country, the world's leading manufacturing producer.

The renewable energy sector, especially solar, has seen a real boom which has led China to become clean energy leader in a very short time; the country aims to produce more than 40 percent of its energy from the sun by 2060.

The Asian giant seems to have fully understood how climate change threatens its prosperous economy in the long term, and is determined to support the transition to a more sustainable economy through a detailed multi-year program.

Japan is also among the virtuous countries. The country of the Rising Sun not only recycles over 80 percent of the plastic it produces but is also among the top ten countries in the world for the production of clean energy.

After all, the concept of “mottainai” it is intrinsic to Japanese culture: this term indicates regret for something that is wasted and the consequent commitment to ensure that this does not happen.

Another nation that is taking major steps towards sustainability is Taiwan. The small island country has recently enacted a law that undertakes to counter the effects of climate change with a series of measures ranging from "low carbon" food to green technologies.

Finally, in Oceania, New Zealand shines for its commitment to the fight against climate change and the promotion of sustainability policies. The country is working to reduce its greenhouse gas emissions by actively involving the Maori community in safeguarding thetechnology

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Sustainability: photovoltaic China
A huge photovoltaic plant in Dunhuang, in the People's Republic of China (Photo: Unsplash)

US efforts and Costa Rica's winning model

The United States represents the first world economy and the second country after China for environmental impact. The USA is still far from being able to define itself as a nation that focuses on sustainability: an analysis on achieving the UN Sustainable Development Goals ranks them XNUMXst, recognizing significant efforts in the infrastructure sector but a stalemate on climate action and biodiversity.

However, similar to China, US economic and investment strength can make a difference in the years to come. Many states have already adopted energy policies that aim for 100 percent renewable energy and a zero-waste goal.

Canada is decidedly more virtuous in terms of sustainability, which produces 97 percent of its electricity from renewable sources and is working hard on sustainable mobility and the optimization of natural resources. 

But the prize for the most sustainable country on the American continent goes to the small Central American nation of Costa Rica. One of the very first countries to focus on clean energy, it understood very quickly what its main wealth was: its lush forests, which cover more than half of the national territory.

This country is the only one in the world that has managed to reverse its rate of deforestation, thus preserving its very rich biodiversity. Colombia and Uruguay also deserve a special mention for sustainability: the former for having decisively focused on ecological and responsible tourism and the latter for massive investments in clean energy.

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Sustainability: Costa Rica
Playa Escondilla and Playa Manuel Antonio: Costa Rica is the only state in the world to have reversed the deforestation trend (Photo: Unsplash)

The European commitment to a more ecological and supportive future

And our Europe? For several years the policies and results in terms of sustainability of the "Scandinavian bloc", Denmark, Sweden, Norway and Finland have been making headlines.

A combination of government policies, wealth of natural resources and high GDP per capita make these countries costume in the top 5 of European countries for achieving the UN sustainable development goals.

Austria, Germany and Switzerland also performed well, respectively in fourth, sixth and seventh position, while Italy ranked twenty-third, immediately after Spain. An interesting fact that emerges from the European situation is that generally the achievement of environmental sustainability objectives goes hand in hand with the social one of "leaving no one behind".

In short, sustainability seems to rhyme with solidarity for the countries that have achieved the best results in Europe. However, there remains a great deal of disparity between the member states of the European Union, a disparity that unfortunately the years of the pandemic have accentuated.

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Sustainability: green mobility in Copenhagen
Copenhagen: The Danish capital predicts that by 2025, 75 percent of city mobility will be by bicycle (Photo: iStock)

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Sustainability is a goal that requires a joint commitment by all the actors involved: governments, citizens and companies. It is a concept rich in facets, which extends from energy policies to the protection oftechnology, up to social welfare and infrastructure efficiency.

But one thing is certain: we all need to do our part to create a more sustainable and welcoming society. Companies that combine ethics with quality such as Solid Earth, leader in the sector of ecological pavements and natural roads, are at the forefront of this challenge, working daily to achieve this ambitious goal.

It is encouraging to see how many countries are making progress towards a more sustainable future and how many companies are aware of their responsibility in this area. We are all part of the solution and can work together to create a better world for future generations.

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