The key to eco­nomic pros­per­ity

The Pak Banker - - OPINION - Sul­tan Ahmed Al Jaber

LAST week, when the world came to­gether for Abu Dhabi Sus­tain­abil­ity Week (ADSW), it did so at a time of con­sid­er­able geopo­lit­i­cal and eco­nomic un­cer­tainty. But it was also a mo­ment of un­prece­dented unity, fol­low­ing the global adop­tion of the Sus­tain­able De­vel­op­ment Goals and the Paris Agree­ment on Cli­mate Change.

ADSW pre­sented the first op­por­tu­nity for both pol­icy-mak­ers and busi­ness lead­ers to sus­tain the for­ward mo­men­tum achieved in 2015, and to trans­form political con­sen­sus into de­ci­sive, tan­gi­ble ac­tions. To­day, with political will and mar­ket forces so closely aligned, the scale of the eco­nomic op­por­tu­nity be­fore us is un­de­ni­able. Global in­vest­ment in clean en­ergy reached an es­ti­mated $329 bil­lion (Dh1.21 bil­lion) last year, an all­time high. And ac­cord­ing to the In­ter­na­tional Re­new­able En­ergy Agency, dou­bling the share of re­new­ables in the en­ergy mix by 2030 could in­ject more than $1 tril- lion into the global econ­omy.

Hav­ing said that, the world's grow­ing de­mand for en­ergy can­not be met by one source alone. Do­ing so will re­quire all en­ergy sources, both tra­di­tional and new, to work hand-in-hand. Given our his­toric ex­per­tise as a global en­ergy sup­plier, the UAE is right to spear­head the tran­si­tion to­wards a new en­ergy and eco­nomic fu­ture. Broad­en­ing our en­ergy mix will strengthen, not un­der­mine, our his­toric en­ergy lead­er­ship. Here, in the Ara­bian Gulf, while we will re­main a re­li­able sup­plier of oil and gas to the world for many years to come, de­liv­er­ing on our re­new­able en­ergy tar­gets will spur job cre­ation and con­tin­ued eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.

Sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment is, I be­lieve, the key to eco­nomic pros­per­ity, so­cial equal­ity and cli­mate change mit­i­ga­tion. It in­creas­ingly breathes new life into the global econ­omy and, at the same time, ad­dresses the en­vi­ron­men­tal and cli- mate chal­lenges we all face. But this can only be achieved if gov­ern­ments and busi­nesses com­mit to be­ing bold and am­bi­tious, to­gether.

The UAE must con­tinue to lead by ex­am­ple. The re­peated calls to ac­tion by Pres­i­dent His High­ness Shaikh Khal­ifa Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Vice-Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His High­ness Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Com­man­der of the UAE Armed Forces, un­der­score the im­por­tance our lead­er­ship places on sus­tain­able eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion.

Con­sider the far-sighted state­ment by Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Zayed - that the day when the UAE ex­ports its last bar­rel of oil will be a cause for cel­e­bra­tion not com­mis­er­a­tion. This was a clear recog­ni­tion of the im­por­tance of eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and a pledge to en­sure our coun­try's sus­tain­able, pros­per­ous growth.Eco­nomic di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion and progress to­wards a sus­tain­able and pros­per­ous fu­ture will be the fo­cus of the forth­com­ing min­is­te­rial re­treat an­nounced by Shaikh Mo­ham­mad Bin Rashid.

Cen­tral to those dis­cus­sions will be the role that new and ex­ist­ing in­dus­tries can play in en­abling the UAE to meet its sus­tain­able de­vel­op­ment goals. Much has been achieved al­ready. In terms of di­ver­si­fi­ca­tion, some two thirds of the UAE's gross do­mes­tic prod­uct is de­rived from non-oil or gas sources. The UAE is now recog­nised as a leader in a va­ri­ety of sec­tors be­sides en­ergy; no­tably fi­nan­cial ser­vices, real es­tate, lo­gis­tics, avi­a­tion, in­dus­try, pro­fes­sional ser­vices and tourism.

The com­mon link be­tween all of th­ese in­dus­tries, of course, is in­no­va­tion and re­search and de­vel­op­ment. This is the re­al­ity of a global mar­ket­place that is in­creas­ingly tech­nol­o­gy­driven and dig­i­tally aware. Re­al­is­ing our eco­nomic po­ten­tial re­quires the open-mind­ed­ness to di­ver­sify but equally, the clar­ity of fo­cus to nur­ture the hu­man cap­i­tal needed to com­pete on the world stage.

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