How does the UAE rank in Marine Protected Areas?

21 June 2018

Lab Chat

In the latest report from the Environmental Performance Index (EPI), the United Arab Emirates have come top of the pile for marine protected areas. Continuing its excellent conservation efforts in the region, the UAE was recognised for its commitment to expand and maintain its natural resources.

Earlier this month, the UAE hosted the inaugural Regional Biodiversity Forum in Abu Dhabi. Over 100 experts in the fields of biodiversity and conservation came together to discuss incentives to promote environmental practices in the UAE in particular and the Middle East in general.

By the numbers

Over the last several years, the UAE has made a concerted effort to look after its natural resources. Since 2010, the number of protected nature reserves has risen from just 19 to 43, an increase of 126%. At the same time, the amount of protected wetland areas has increased 250% from two in 2010 to seven last year.

According to the UAE’s Minister of Climate Change and Environment Thani Ahmad Al Zeyoudi, 17% of terrestrial land in the country is now under governmental protection, while 12.2% of coastal areas and marine waters are protected. Cumulatively, that means that 14.9% of the country is regarded as under conservation.

Part of an elite group

Amid recent fears that climate change could fuel mass migration from the Middle East, countries in the region have been investing more and more resources into combating this global phenomenon. The UAE’s perfect 100.00 score in the area of marine protected resources and 96.87 rating in water conservation and wastewater treatment signals its commitment to leading by example.

One of only 22 nations across the globe to achieve that 100.00 rating, the UAE is the only nation from the Middle East to have done so. As such, it represents a barometer for other Arab countries to aspire to with regards to its marine and coastal conservation efforts.

Still a long way to go

Despite the impressive progress made by the UAE and the recognition which the EPI placement acknowledges, the country and the region still have a way to go to achieving overall excellence in their environmental operations. The country finished 77th out of 180 overall, meaning there is still plenty of room for improvement.

In particular, its energy, air quality and heavy metals policies require attention. However, addressing such concerns is the explicit purpose of conferences such as the one held in Abu Dhabi at the beginning of the month. It’s only through events like these, which encourage the dissemination of information and the ongoing collaboration between countries, that Middle Eastern countries can fulfil their climate obligations.

Planning for the future

The three-day forum was organised by Environment Agency-Abu Dhabi (EAD) and saw specialists from all over the region come together. “Through this forum, we aim to increase the level of technical coordination and cooperation to highlight the Arab environmental agenda in international forums and promote joint Arab action in the conservation of biodiversity,” explained Dr Shaika Salem Al Dhaheri, executive

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