The path to sus­tain­abil­ity and a greener to­mor­row

Pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships can help Dubai establish sus­tain­able tourism prac­tices, says Solaiman Al Ri­fai

Gulf Business - - CONTENTS - SOLAIMAN AL RIFA I

Global warm­ing and cli­mate change are among the key chal­lenges fac­ing the world today and there is an ur­gent need for each na­tion to re­duce its cat­a­strophic im­pact on the environment and sus­tain nat­u­ral re­sources for gen­er­a­tions to come.

Dubai has an­swered that call and is em­brac­ing a sus­tain­abil­ity model to cater to the need for a greener, more en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly fu­ture.

His High­ness Sheikh Mo­hammed bin Rashid Al Mak­toum, Vice Pres­i­dent and Prime Min­is­ter of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai said: “We recog­nise that pre­serv­ing our en­ergy re­sources will be one of the great­est chal­lenges in our drive to­wards sus­tain­able devel­op­ment. This, how­ever, will not ma­te­ri­alise un­less the dif­fer­ent facets of our so­ci­ety adopt en­ergy con­ser­va­tion prin­ci­ples in their core val­ues. The fu­ture gen­er­a­tions will be the chief ben­e­fi­ciary of our achieve­ments and the best judge of what we ac­com­plish in this field.”

Dubai is a city that is grow­ing at an ex­po­nen­tial rate, with each in­dus­try’s con­tri­bu­tion in­ter­twin­ing to re­sult in na­tion­wide devel­op­ment and eco­nomic growth. The emi­rate is also recog­nised the world over for be­ing one of the lead­ing tourism des­ti­na­tions. Af­ter wel­com­ing 14.9 mil­lion vis­i­tors in 2016, and by set­ting an am­bi­tious tar­get of wel­com­ing 20 mil­lion in 2020, tourism has un­doubt­edly be­come one of the key pil­lars driv­ing Dubai’s econ­omy.

Much like the city, Dubai’s hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­try is ex­pe­ri­enc­ing steady progress, and the grow­ing in­flu­ence of the city’s tourism and leisure sec­tors are ma­jor contributors to the in­dus­try’s evo­lu­tion and suc­cess. Con­se­quently, it is no sur­prise that both tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity play crit­i­cal roles in achiev­ing our sus­tain­abil­ity goals.

The growth of th­ese sec­tors, trans­lates into a cru­cial re­spon­si­bil­ity that each of its stake­hold­ers have – to en­sure we cre­ate a more sus­tain­able environment for resi-

dents and vis­i­tors alike. Fur­ther­more, as trav­ellers and res­i­dents be­come more con­scious about the environment and steer to­wards brands that are meeting their ‘green’ ex­pec­ta­tions, hos­pi­tal­ity es­tab­lish­ments now have to cater to this en­vi­ron­men­tally aware seg­ment of vis­i­tors.

Dubai has specif­i­cally im­ple­mented key strate­gies to en­sure that its vi­sion of sus­tain­able devel­op­ment and the cre­ation of a green econ­omy is brought to life. The Dubai Clean En­ergy Strat­egy 2050 aims to pro­vide 75 per cent of en­ergy from clean sources by 2050. And through the city’s Car­bon Abate­ment Strat­egy 2021, Dubai aims to re­duce car­bon emis­sions by 16 per cent by the year 2021, striv­ing to be­come the city with the low­est car­bon foot­print in the world.

Glob­ally, environment waste numbers are also in­creas­ing each year. This speaks vol­umes about the im­mense pres­sure that nat­u­ral re­sources and the environment are un­der. One of the 2017 Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment Goals, stip­u­lated as part of the United Na­tion’s 2030 Agenda for Sus­tain­able Devel­op­ment, is en­sur­ing sus­tain­able con­sump­tion and pro­duc­tion pat­terns. Ac­cord­ing to the UN, an es­ti­mated one third of all food pro­duced – equiv­a­lent to 1.3 bil­lion tonnes worth around $1 tril­lion – is wasted each year.

His­tor­i­cally, hos­pi­tal­ity play­ers have been blamed as contributors to en­vi­ron­men­tal waste, es­pe­cially food wastage. Keep­ing this in mind, Dubai is mov­ing to tackle the is­sue of food waste with the launch of the UAE Food Bank. The ini­tia­tive, spear­headed by HH Sheikh Mo­hammed, was an­nounced in Jan­uary and aims to com­bat the Dhs3.5bn ($952.8m) worth of food dis­carded in the city every year by ei­ther dis­tribut­ing to the needy or re­cy­cling in an en­vi­ron­men­tally friendly man­ner.

Car­bon emis­sions and food wastage re­main some of the big­gest bar­ri­ers to man­ag­ing sus­tain­able tourism. This is why Dubai Tourism has de­vel­oped a longterm sus­tain­able tourism strat­egy, which acts as a roadmap to en­sure that the city con­tin­u­ously re­mains at the fore­front in terms of sus­tain­able tourism. The man­date is to enhance the sus­tain­abil­ity of the tourism sec­tor and there­fore pos­i­tively im­pact in­ter­con­nected in­dus­tries within the city, while con­tribut­ing to­wards achiev­ing over­all sus­tain­able de­velop- ment tar­gets by the year 2021.

Ul­ti­mately, part of the re­spon­si­bil­ity also lies with tourism boards and gov­ern­ing au­thor­i­ties to cre­ate the right frame­work to en­sure that steps are taken to sub­stan­tially re­duce wastage.

Given this, the sus­tain­able tourism strat­egy in­cludes the devel­op­ment and roll­out of tools that tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity stake­hold­ers can use to mea­sure the im­pact and ef­fec­tive­ness of sus­tain­able tourism ini­tia­tives. Th­ese in­clude four in­ter­linked pil­lars: aware­ness and ed­u­ca­tion, per­for­mance mea­sure­ment, in­dus­try awards, and in­dus­try stan­dards.

But while Dubai Sus­tain­able Tourism con­tin­ues to lay the ground­work to cre­ate a sus­tain­able fu­ture, it is equally im­per­a­tive for stake­hold­ers to keep the con­ver­sa­tion alive and con­tinue to ed­u­cate the pub­lic. There­fore, an im­por­tant as­pect of en­sur­ing that the sus­tain­able tourism strat­egy works is pub­lic-pri­vate part­ner­ships.

As the travel and tourism sec­tor con­tin­ues to be a key pil­lar of eco­nomic growth in the UAE, it is im­per­a­tive for the in­dus­try to come to­gether to iden­tify com­mon chal­lenges and roll out ini­tia­tives that can ef­fec­tively re­solve any is­sues. Dubai will un­de­ni­ably play an in­stru­men­tal role in shap­ing the way for­ward for sus­tain­able tourism, and if his­tory is any in­di­ca­tion, the city will work tire­lessly to achieve the tar­gets set, en­sur­ing a cleaner, greener to­mor­row is right around the cor­ner.

“WE RECOG­NISE THAT PRE­SERV­ING OUR EN­ERGY RE­SOURCES WILL BE ONE OF THE GREAT­EST CHAL­LENGES IN OUR DRIVE TO­WARDS SUS­TAIN­ABLE DEVEL­OP­MENT. THIS, HOW­EVER, WILL NOT MA­TE­RI­ALISE UN­LESS THE DIF­FER­ENT FACETS OF OUR SO­CI­ETY ADOPT EN­ERGY CON­SER­VA­TION PRIN­CI­PLES IN THEIR CORE VAL­UES. THE FU­TURE GEN­ER­A­TIONS WILL BE THE CHIEF BEN­E­FI­CIARY OF OUR ACHIEVE­MENTS AND THE BEST JUDGE OF WHAT WE AC­COM­PLISH IN THIS FIELD.”

Solaiman Al Ri­fai is se­nior pro­ject man­ager at Dubai Sus­tain­able Tourism

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