H.E. Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, calls on UAE municipalities to work together on climate change mitigation.
First Majlis in an ongoing series brings together government and civil society to pursue UAE pro-growth, pro-climate agenda.
The first in a series of eight national Majlis sessions being held in the run up to COP28 began today at the Oberoi Resort in Ajman, in a session organised by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment and supported by the Salama Bint Hamdan Al Nahyan Foundation.
With COP28 now just 24 days away, the event represented the chance to explore the strong connection between local government – municipalities – and their vital work in enabling climate change action.
UAE municipalities are at the vanguard of efforts to mitigate climate change and create sustainable cities. They employ a multifaceted human-centric approach including sustainable urban planning, green building standards, renewable energy adoption and public transportation improvements, for example.
They also hold responsibility for waste management, water conservation, green spaces, public awareness campaigns and international partnerships.
These initiatives collectively contribute to reducing carbon emissions and promoting a more sustainable, liveable urban environment in the UAE.
The Ajman event focused on discussion around how municipalities can take action to further the UAE’s climate goals, under the title: “Municipal Climate Action to Embed Sustainability.”
Invited attendees at the inaugural event included UAE government entities and municipal leaders, youth, representatives from national universities, business leaders, policy leaders, , funders, inventors, climate experts and NGOs.
This exciting new government-led initiative demonstrates the UAE’s model of present, open leadership as an approach to problem solving, and underlines the goals of COP28, to be an inclusive platform for strong, collaborative and collective action.
The Changemakers Majlis concept is firmly rooted in UAE tradition, paying homage to the widespread culture of majlises as a discussion forum, as they remain a common way to gather the community to discuss and find solutions to pressing challenges.
The session was chaired by UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, Her Excellency Mariam bint Mohammed Almheiri, who said: “Municipalities hold the power to create real tangible change in cities, that helps us mitigate some of the most noticeable effects of climate change – such as waste management, public transport and water conservation. But ahead of COP28, we ensure that our municipalities are working together, sharing knowledge and creating synergies and partnerships for the greater good of the nation.
“Urban initiatives like afforestation efforts and creating walkable cities are essential for addressing environmental and sustainability challenges in rapidly urbanising regions like the UAE. Such initiatives enhance citizens’ quality of life, reduce environmental impacts, and promote a more sustainable, liveable urban environment.
“Today is a chance for us to discuss how to unify municipal action in addressing environmental issues and implementing global agreements.”
H.E. updated the attendees on the progress of the UAE’s plan to plant 100 million mangrove trees by 2030, and spotlighted municipal-level climate mitigation efforts, from plans to create more walkable cities to waste-to-energy projects across the emirates which will help provide sustainable energy for the future.
Her Excellency also discussed growing plans for a circular economy, and how the UAE is working towards achieving integrated waste management through innovative new waste policies and legislation.
The Majlis was attended by several leaders from the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment, namely H.E. Mohammed Saeed Al Nuaimi, Acting Undersecretary, H.E. Eng Mohammed Mousa Alameeri, Assistant Undersecretary of the Food Diversity Sector, Dr. Mohammed Salman Al Hammadi, Assistant Undersecretary for Biodiversity and Marine Life Sector, H.E. Eng. Othaibah Saeed AlQaydi, Acting Assistant Undersecretary of Sustainable Communities Sector, and H.E. Shaikha Ahmed Salem Al Ali, Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Regions Sector.
H.E. Abdulrahman Mohammed Al Nuaimi, Director General of Ajman Municipality and Planning Department, H.E. Eng Mohamed Saif Al-Afkham, Director General of Fujairah Municipality, H.E. Dr. Sulaiman Abdallah Bin Sarhan Al Zaabi, Chairman of Municipal Affairs Department in Sharjah, and H.E. Dr. Salem Khalfan Al Kaabi, Director General of The Center of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi, were among the attendees too.
During the Majlis, H.E. Abdulrahman Mohammed Al Nuaimi, Director General of Ajman Municipality and Planning Department, reviewed Ajman’s initiatives, its projects and strategic plans, and the launch of a wastewater treatment plant, as well as leveraging its products in fertilizers and irrigation.
H.E. Eng Mohamed Saif Al-Afkham, Director General of Fujairah Municipality, touched on the vital role of Fujairah in municipal affairs, highlighting some of the projects developed in partnership with ADNOC. These projects involve injecting CO2 captured from the air, dissolved in seawater, and then injected into peridotite formations deep underground, where it will mineralize. This process is carried out using new tech solutions, and will have financial returns as well as address environmental aspects.
H.E. Dr. Sulaiman Abdallah Bin Sarhan Al Zaabi, Chairman of the Municipal Affairs Department in Sharjah, discussed the emirate’s efforts and the projects it adopts, in addition efforts in afforestation and increasing green spaces through planting external roads, gardens, and local streets in residential neighbourhoods. He also underscored the importance of such steps in reducing carbon emissions, and improving the quality of life for the community.
H.E. Dr. Salem Khalfan Al Kaabi, Director General of The Center of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi, spoke about specific projects related to infrastructure and urban planning in Abu Dhabi 2040. He also talked about reviewing and re-studying this planning in line with the UAE’s net-zero targets, and Abu Dhabi’s vision regarding environmental and municipal affairs.
Private sector companies participating in the Majlis addressed several topics, including the life cycle of products and leveraging that to create an economic value. This greatly contributes to spotlighting the importance of such transformation in supporting the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.
The highly focused session posed four questions to attendees, to help drive the conversation and climate action.
They were asked to consider what policies, programs and initiatives are in place at municipal level that address climate change and advance sustainability.
Next, the gathering focused attention on the challenges that exist at municipal level for advancing Net Zero and sustainability – and what action they need to take to overcome these challenges?
The third question asked what attendees might commit to today to support deeper cross-sector partnerships, that will advance climate mitigation and sustainability across UAE cities, and the final discussion revolved around answering what actions are needed to support municipalities’ outcomes toward Net Zero.
About the COP28 UAE Changemaker Majlis series:
The COP28 UAE Changemakers Majlis series is a high level, aspirational, action-oriented conversation focusing on realising the UAE’s bold ambitions of advancing innovative climate solutions.
The Majlis will take place in every Emirate over the coming weeks, as part of the COP28 Presidency team’s efforts to ensure inclusivity at the crucial talks, which begin in just 24 days.
Hosting a curated group of influential local leaders, the events represent the chance to discuss specific climate change challenges, and co-design clear, actionable solutions.
The objective of the UAE Changemakers Majlis stream is to bring together local climate leaders and innovators, in a way that creates new pathways for them to discuss climate, sustainability, and Net Zero opportunities, challenges, and partnerships, while highlighting the role they each play in advancing domestic climate goals leading up to, during, and after COP28.