DUBAI: Overcoming the challenges of environmental sustainability requires a global approach based on “international dialogue and cooperation,” said Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance in the opening remarks of the second day of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW.)
He stressed that sustainability must become less of a “fashionable word” or a “noble concept,” and more of a global goal based on strategy.
“It must become the dominant motive for national and global actions in order to balance the economic, social, environmental, and cultural needs of all communities,” he said on Tuesday.
Taking place at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from Jan.11 to 18, the ADSW is hosting a fusion of policy makers, technology pioneers and industry specialists under the theme “Accelerating the pace of sustainable development.”
Al-Nahyan pointed to the UAE’s vision as one that is closely aligned with the global quest to reach the UN Sustainable Development Goals by the year 2030.
“We share with all nations of the world the conviction that reaching those goals will require the efforts of all local and global leaders—leaders from faiths, governments, businesses, communities, and the media,” he said, highlighting the importance of promoting a culture of social responsibility.
He referred to the words and principles of the Human Fraternity Document signed by the Pope and the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar last February in Abu Dhabi, as a guide for people’s daily actions.
“Today, in light of the disturbing events we observe daily around the globe, it has become supremely urgent that we not only understand but actively promote the bonds that unite us,” said Al-Nayhan.
Following his speech at the conference, Paul Kagame, the President of Rwanda discussed initiatives introduced in his country to develop sustainable practices.
The starting point is to focus on people by “mobilizing” them to take action and make a difference, he said.
Kagame said Rwanda was one of more than 40 countries worldwide that have banned, restricted or taxed the use of plastic bags.
He said the last Saturday of every month was known as a “clean-up day,” where members of each community across the country took part in cleaning the city.
“What we have learnt ourselves is that it’s not enough to talk about good policies when you’re not actually doing what needs to be done to see results,” he said.
By demonstrating the benefits of environmental practices to the public, Kagame believes in the emergence of a culture based on sustainability, one that involves the youth of the country.
Additionally, parliamentary sessions debating sustainability challenges in Rwanda now include discussions based on goals set by the public, keeping inclusion at the heart of the conversation.
“We started from scratch 25 years ago, and we have created something over 25 years,” said Kagame, referring to the Rwandan genocide in 1994.
“It happened because we are able to look at each other in the eye and say - it’s not all lost, we can work together to create something,” he added, noting that Rwanda has had great success in creating secondary cities, with 78 currently being developed in different parts of the country.
“There is an expectation by everybody form everybody - and that’s why we have to come together,” Kagame said.