UAE pledges at COP26: endorsing Declaration on Forests and Land Use, launching $1 billion global platform to accelerate renewable energy

    15 Nov 2021

    The UAE has endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use that commits countries to working collectively to halt and reverse forest loss and land degradation by 2030 while advancing sustainable development and promoting an inclusive rural transformation.

    Over 90 countries have supported the declaration at the COP26 Leaders’ Action on Forests and Land Use Event during the World Leaders’ Summit. The forum convened governments, companies, financial actors, and non-state leaders to raise ambition on forests and land use in a way that delivers for the climate, people, economic development, and biodiversity.

    Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, said WAM: “When forests are lost and land is degraded, we are at a risk of losing the countless services these vital ecosystems offer, such as providing critical habitats for biodiversity and acting as natural carbon sinks to regulate climate at the forefront. We believe in the multilateral process as key to solving global challenges. Therefore, the UAE has endorsed the Glasgow Leaders’ Declaration on Forests and Land Use, and will work with other like-minded nations to end and reverse forest loss and land degradation worldwide. We urge all leaders to join forces in the global transition to sustainable land use.”

    In the fight against land degradation, the UAE reinforces its blue carbon ecosystems – coastal vegetation such as mangrove forests, saltmarshes, and seagrass meadows. Mangrove forests serve as powerful carbon sinks that sequester CO2 and enhance environmental resilience, thus offering considerable climate change mitigation and adaption benefits as well as providing critical habitats for biodiversity.

    To expand its blue carbon ecosystems, the country has committed to planting 30 million mangroves by 2030 in its second Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC).

    The UAE has rolled out the National Blue Carbon Project that aims to enhance understanding about carbon storage and other services provided by the coastal ecosystems in the country. The project provides options for integrating these learnings into policy and management, leading to the sustainable use of these ecosystems and their services, and their preservation for future generations.

    The UAE is employing modern technologies and innovative solutions in its efforts to combat land degradation, including leveraging drones to map agricultural areas and sow tree seeds to reduce sand encroachment. Drones have helped disperse 6 million acacia seeds and 250,000 ghaf seeds across 25 sites nationwide.

    In addition, the UAE is leveraging highly innovative drone planting technology to sow mangrove seeds. This goal is supported by the ambitious Plantation Rehabilitation Program that involves the rehabilitation of all types of plants, especially rare species and those on the brink of extinction.

    The country is currently establishing the Abu Dhabi Plant Genetic Resources Centre (Gene Bank) that will be the largest in the region with a capacity to store 20,000 samples once completed in 2022. The facility aims to preserve plant biological diversity in the UAE and the wider region, and to help reproduce it in nature.

    Recognizing that protected areas play a key role in conserving endangered species and their habitats, the UAE has 49 protected areas that account for 15.5 percent of the country’s territory.

    To guide the country’s efforts to protect and restore its natural environment, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) is updating the National Strategy to Combat Desertification that focuses on preserving ecosystems and mitigating the effects of desertification.

    To boost community participation in the government’s drive to protect and restore the natural habitats of indigenous flora, MOCCAE launched the Gheras app, offering the public access to a complete database of local plant species and ways to care for them.

    The Ministry is also working on the UAE Smart Map of Natural Capital using remote sensing that will inform policies and decision-making on land use, investment, and business improvement in line with the country’s economic vision and the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). The high-resolution map will identify local biodiversity-rich ecosystems and services they provide to the environment, in addition to an economic valuation of these services.



    UAE, IRENA launch $1 billion global platform to accelerate renewable energy at COP26

    H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Minister of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation, and Head of the UAE delegation to the 26th Conference of Parties to the COP26) attended on November 3rd the official launch ceremony of the Energy Transition Accelerator Financing (ETAF) Platform, a new global climate finance facility to accelerate the transition to renewable energy in developing countries.

    The UAE and the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) on the same day announced the launch of the global platform on the sidelines of COP26, in Glasgow, the United Kingdom, WAM reports.

    The UAE committed $400 million in funding provided by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) toward the platform’s goal of securing a minimum of US$1 billion in total funding.

    Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed Al Nahyan said, “The new ETAF platform reinforces our long-standing commitment to support positive climate action in developing and vulnerable countries. As a signatory to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (UNFCCC), the UAE fundamentally believes, we must work together globally, in partnerships, to mitigate the effects of climate change. The UAE is proud to act decisively in pushing forward a responsible, sustainability-led agenda, and in assisting other nations to benefit from the significant advantages of renewable energy.”

    Dr. Sultan bin Ahmed Al Jaber, Minister of Industry and Advanced Technology and UAE Special Envoy for Climate Change, said, “The UAE views development aid and climate action as powerful catalysts for economic growth, both domestically and internationally. Today’s announcement will help to advance the economies of partner countries by providing reliable, low-cost renewable energy for businesses, industry, and homes. We are proud of this significant new contribution by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development to accelerate climate action and deliver immediate economic benefits in the process. This is the kind of initiative that combines partnership, policy and finance to create tangible progress and it is this focus on practical results that has motivated the UAE to offer to host COP 28 in 2023.”

    Through co-financing, ETAF will aim to mobilize an additional US$2 billion in energy transition investments, targeting a total deployment of 1.5 GW of clean renewable energy generation and storage by 2030.

    ETAF will be managed by IRENA from its Abu Dhabi headquarters, capitalizing on the UAE’s climate finance market and renewable energy innovation infrastructure. The new accelerator platform will help mitigate investment risks and finance renewable energy projects in developing countries that may otherwise struggle to secure sufficient capital.

    Francesco La Camera, the Director-General of IRENA, said, “We have reached a defining moment in our generation’s efforts to put our economies and our environment on a path to stability, resilience and shared prosperity. The energy transformation is the most attractive and effective tool we have to achieve that. This new investment platform reflects the UAE’s commitment to shaping a sustainable future, and IRENA’s efforts to serve its over 180 member countries as an indispensable energy transformation partner. We encourage multilateral development banks, international financial institutions, governments, and private sector actors to join us in bolstering sustainable development efforts.”

    The new UAE-IRENA partnership to establish the ETAF platform builds on the long-term collaboration between IRENA and ADFD, which includes seven cycles of the US$350 million IRENA-ADFD Project Facility. Between 2013 and 2020, the facility financed 26 projects in Asia, Africa, and Latin America, notably including Small Island Developing States.

    Mohammed Saif Al Suwaidi, Director-General of ADFD, said, “IRENA and ADFD have an excellent track record working together on the development of major renewable energy projects in developing markets. These projects have significant environmental, economic and social impact that is transformational for countries and their people. Through this new platform, we seek to bring together finance and development partners from around the world under a shared vision to combat climate change.”

    “Given the essential role that renewable energy projects play in achieving sustainable development for developing countries, ADFD has committed to allocating US$400 million until 2030 to enable accelerated deployment. These projects will have a great impact on local communities, helping beneficiary countries to achieve greater economic and social development,” he added.

    ADFD has contributed to financing to a number renewable energy projects in developing countries, in addition to funding the UAE’s initiatives to support renewable energy projects in island states, including the IRENA/ADFD Project Facility, UAE-Caribbean Renewable Energy Fund (UAE-CREF), and the UAE-Pacific Partnership Fund.

    In total to date, ADFD has worked with a number of clean energy partners and governments around the world to support the development of 90 renewable energy projects in 65 countries that have the capacity to generate more than 9,000 megawatts of electricity. With the new ETAF contribution, ADFD’s total financing for renewable energy projects now stands at US$1.8 billion.

    The ETAF platform will source projects on an ongoing basis, supplemented by calls for proposals aligned with Paris Agreement and SDG milestones. Investment-ready projects identified under IRENA’s existing Climate Investment Platform will also represent a notable pipeline.

    Moreover, H.H. Sheikh Abdullah bin Zayed visited the UAE’s pavilion at COP26, and commended the efforts of the pavilion team and the delegation members and the keenness they showed to highlight the UAE’s significant regional and global role in the field of climate action, especially since the UAE applied to host COP28 in 2023.

    During his visit to the pavilion, he met with a group of Emirati youth, and highlighted their pivotal role in adopting innovative solutions to deal with the fallout of climate change, and the active and important role they are expected to play at COP28.

    He also urged youth to enhance their contributions to climate action, noting that joint action, cooperation and constructive partnerships are the main course of action for tackling climate change.

    Furthermore, Sheikh Abdullah underlined the importance of strengthening international cooperation and coordination in dealing with the repercussions of climate change, to drive environmental preservation efforts and ensure a prosperous, sustainable future for generations to come.

    He also highlighted the UAE’s keenness to enhance its cooperation with other countries and support the efforts of the international community to tackle climate change and contain its fallout, and praised the UK’s hosting of COP26, which saw a huge turnout.

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