H.H. Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in the Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi has launched a new book titled “25 Years of Preserving Sheikh Zayed’s Environmental Legacy”.
The book documents the most important milestones in the agency’s journey to preserve the natural heritage of Abu Dhabi and its rich biodiversity. It also documents the 25-year journey since Environment Agency- Abu Dhabi’s (EAD) inception and the environment preservation legacy of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, during which important environmental achievements locally, regionally and internationally were observed and Abu Dhabi government’s vision to achieve sustainable development was adopted.
The book (published in both Arabic and English), stretches across 7 chapters that include key information and data, the most important achievements and successes of the agency, as well as the most significant programmes and projects that supported and enabled EAD to become a global example for best practices in preserving the environment.
It sheds light on the beginnings of the agency’s work that began with the establishment of the National Avian Research Centre in 1989 to preserve the intangible cultural heritage of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, which is the sport of falconry and its associated environment and wildlife. The book journeys the stages the agency went through to become the largest environmental regulatory body in the Middle East today.
Sheikh Hamdan said: “As a nation, thanks to the wise leadership of His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces, we have a clear vision for our people, economy and environment.”
He added: “To prosper and develop, we seek a balance between the aspirations of our people and the needs of our planet. It is through science and understanding that we strike such a balance. Through our scientific endeavours, we understand the challenges that face us and know how best to address them to ensure a lasting legacy for the future.”
He said: “We continuously strive to improve our stewardship of the bounty that we have inherited and the environmental legacy that we hand down to the next generation. We trust that our descendants will do even better than us in this regard. We meet these challenges with a positive outlook, vigour and innovation, turning every challenge into a new opportunity.”
He added: “As such, over the years, we have spared no effort in improving our understanding of the environment, and in educating our youth on the importance of conserving the wealth of our resources. We have a much better understanding of our air, water, soil, habitats, and species; empowering us to become more effective stewards of the future.”
As his H.H. concluded his speech, he said: “We have reintroduced species that were once extinct in the wild and have relied on innovative technologies to protect our precious resources. We will continue to push the boundaries of possibility, ensuring the adoption of best practices to deliver sustainable development and growth for generations to come.”
In his speech that introduced the book, Mohammed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defence Affairs, Vice Chairman of EAD’s Board of Directors said: “Since our establishment in 1996, when we worked under the name, Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, ERWDA, the role and responsibility of EAD has widely expanded. Our humble beginnings focused on protecting the environment, wildlife and biodiversity through monitoring and scientific research. While our responsibilities increased, our vision remained the same. Collecting and analysing data enhanced our understanding of the environment and the impact on our natural heritage in Abu Dhabi and beyond – helping us to lay the foundations for a more sustainable future.”
“Our responsibility to protect the environment and natural resources in Abu Dhabi is one of EAD’s inherent values. The agency was established on foundations of deep respect towards the environment, a sense of duty in protecting it and our hope for a better future.”
He stressed that this is only the beginning, he said: “Despite the notable impact we have made during these first 25 years, we consider this to be just the beginning. We will continue to preserve Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy, enhance air and water quality, conserve our valuable natural resources and protect our biodiversity. If we inspire individuals and communities – especially the youth – to positively contribute to sustainability, then we will ensure a healthy life and sustainable environment for current and future generations.”
Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, the Agency’s Managing Director, said in her foreword: “When we started, a small group of dedicated ecologists focused on protecting species such as the Houbara Bustard and the Dugong from extinction. These early beginnings were closely supported by His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, who was instrumental in establishing a strong foundation, helping us to become who we are today – a multi-sectoral Agency with teams of scientists, regulators and enforcers tackling an enormous variety of challenges.”
She added: “It is an honour to have been a part of this great endeavour from the beginning until today, and I am immensely proud of the agency, its people and all their accomplishments. We have seen many changes, and we have met many challenges, yet we persevere. Indeed, in many areas, we have become leaders in global best practice for conservation, something of which we can all be very proud. I look forward to even greater things in the future.”
In her foreword, Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary-General of EAD, said: “As we mark this important 25-year milestone on the journey of EAD, it is a good time to take stock of the progress we have made, of the many challenges we have overcome, with boldness and confidence.”
“This book is an accounting of all that we have accomplished in our effort to preserve the late Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy. It is a celebration of two and a half decades of progress and achievement, thanks to the passionate team of people who have worked tirelessly to help us fulfil our goals. For some, it will also serve as an introduction to many of the ground-breaking projects and interventions that will continue to preserve and protect the emirate’s natural heritage for generations to come.”
Dr Al Dhaheri added: “The landscape of the emirate of Abu Dhabi was once very different than it is today: it has grown and evolved, and we have, too, since our original mandate as the Environmental Research and Wildlife Development Agency, ERWDA. Our humble beginnings were rooted in environmental research and discovery, and this ethos remains the backbone of all that we have achieved over these past 25 years. By collecting and analysing the vital data we need to develop a deeper understanding of our environment and the anthropological impact on Abu Dhabi Emirate and the wider region beyond; we have laid the foundations for a more sustainable tomorrow.”
“We take great pride in our many achievements in conservation, both locally and internationally. Our breeding and reintroduction programmes have helped to bring the Arabian Oryx (Oryx leucoryx) back from the brink of extinction, and our ‘World Herd’ of Scimitar-horned Oryx (Oryx dammah), a species once extinct in the wild, is thriving once again in the desert regions of Chad”.
Dr Al Dhaheri noted “As remarkable as these first 25 years have been, they are only the beginning. We will continue to preserve the late Sheikh Zayed’s environmental legacy and contribute to the realisation of Abu Dhabi’s vision, to improve air and water quality, to conserve our precious natural resources, and to protect and strengthen our invaluable biodiversity. If we can continue to inspire countless others, especially the younger generation to place sustainability at the heart of their lifestyle, we will all reap the rewards of a better, healthier environment, now and in the future.”