Global action key to achieving sustainable future: UAE Minister Nahyan bin Mubarak

Sheikh Nahyan bin Mubarak Al-Nahyan, Minister of Tolerance. (File/AFP)
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Updated 14 January 2020

Global action key to achieving sustainable future: UAE Minister Nahyan bin Mubarak

  • Sheikh Nayhan says UAE’s vision is closely aligned with global quest to achieve UN SDGs by 2030
  • Rwanda’s president outlines initiatives taken by his country to develop sustainable practices

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.


British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

Updated 29 min 37 sec ago

British MPs urge UK government to recognize Palestine

  • Palestinian envoy welcomes cross-party call ahead of visit by Prince Charles

LONDON: A group of British MPs has called for the UK to recognize the state of Palestine ahead of a visit by Prince Charles to Israel and the occupied Palestinian territories.

In a letter to The Times, the MPs, along with figures from think tanks and pressure groups, said the move was long overdue and would help fulfill Britain’s “promise of equal rights for peoples in two states.” 

The call comes as the heir to the British throne travels on Thursday to Israel and the occupied West Bank. 

During the visit, he will meet Palestinian President Mahmoud Abbas in Bethlehem and Israeli President Reuven Rivlin in Jerusalem. 

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

The letter said since 2014, no meaningful progress has been made in the peace process, and Israel’s actions are pushing a two-state solution beyond reach.

“Illegal Israeli settlements, described by the Foreign Office as undermining peace efforts, are expanding,” the letter said.

Among the signatories are Emily Thornberry, a candidate for the Labour Party leadership, and Crispin Blunt, chairman of the Conservative Middle East Council.

Husam Zomlot, the Palestinian envoy to the UK, welcomed the move but said full recognition from the British government should have happened many years ago.

“Recognition doesn’t contradict peacemaking and negotiations,” Zomlot told Arab News, referring to the main argument used by the UK against taking such a step. 

“It reinforces the vision (of a Palestinian state) and a negotiated two-state solution. It should happen now because of the threat of annexation (of Palestinian territory) and the killing of the two-state solution.”

FASTFACT

Prince Charles will also attend the World Holocaust Forum to mark the 75th anniversary of the liberation of the Auschwitz concentration camp. 

Alistair Carmichael, a Liberal Democrat MP who signed the letter, told Arab News that the policies of Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu’s government toward Palestine “makes the achievement of a two-state solution more and more remote with every week that passes.”

He said: “The UK has historic and political obligations toward Israelis and Palestinians. There’s now no longer any good reason not to recognize the state of Palestine.”

A spokesman for Labour MP Fabian Hamilton, who also signed the letter, told Arab News: “The fact that this has cross-party support shows the growing desire across Parliament for the recognition of a Palestinian state and a two-state solution.”

Chris Doyle, director of the Council for Arab-British Understanding, said the international community needs to finally stand up for the solution that it has had on the table for decades.

Doyle, an Arab News columnist, said the letter is an “indication that many people in British politics think we should be doing this, we should be standing up for the Palestinian right to self-determination, the legal rights, at a time when the state of Israel is doing everything to stop this, to take more land from the Palestinians.”

The letter was timed to coincide with a meeting of European foreign ministers on Monday, who discussed the Middle East peace process.

The Palestinian Authority, which runs parts of the West Bank, has been increasing calls for European countries to recognize the state of Palestine as the US has shifted to a more pro-Israel stance, including recognizing Jerusalem as Israel’s capital in 2017.

Writing in The Guardian on Monday, Saeb Erekat, secretary-general of the Palestine Liberation Organization, said Europe could strengthen its role in the peace process if it recognized Palestine.

“European recognition of this state is not only a European responsibility but a concrete way to move towards a just and lasting peace,” he said.

Only nine out of the 28 EU countries have so far recognized Palestine as a state, compared to 138 out of the 193 UN member states.

In 2011, the UK’s then-Foreign Minister William Hague said the British government “reserves the right” to recognize Palestine “at a time of our own choosing, and when it can best serve the cause of peace.”

In 2012, the UN General Assembly voted to upgrade Palestine’s status to that of “nonmember observer state.”