His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) has honoured the winners of the first edition of the Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Award at a ceremony held at Al Nakheel Palace in Abu Dhabi.

The ceremony was attended by Sheikh Mohammed bin Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Her Excellency Dr Amna bint Abdullah Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, His Excellency Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Engineer Awaidha Murshed Ali Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, His Exellency Mohamed Khalifa Al Mubarak, Chairman of the Department of Culture and Tourism of Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Staff Major General Pilot Faris Khalaf Al Mazrouei, Commander-in-Chief of Abu Dhabi Police, His Excellency Mansour Ibrahim Al Mansouri, Chairman of Department of Health – Abu Dhabi, and His Excellency Ahmed Jasim Al Zaabi, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development.

The ceremony was also attended by His Excellency Ahmed Matar Al Dhaheri, Director of the Office of the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, His Excellency Fahed Salem Alkayyoomi, Undersecretary of the Department of Government Enablement - Abu Dhabi, Her Excelleny Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Khadim Abdulla Al Darei, Advisor at the Court of the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region, Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, His Excellency Saeed Al Bahri Salem Al Ameri, Director General of Abu Dhabi Agriculture and Food Safety Authority, and Musabbeh Al Kaabi, Executive Director of Low Carbon Solutions and International Growth Directorate at ADNOC, alongside other officials, dignitaries and participants.

The ceremony began with a screening of a video about the award, after which His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed honoured the award’s 18 winners in recognition of their environmental achievements and excellence within their fields.

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region, Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) said: “The emirate of Abu Dhabi is committed to following the approach by the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan in the field of environmental protection.”

His Highness asserted the importance of the award in enhancing the efforts made by the UAE to achieve sustainable development and support distinguished ideas and projects in the field of environment and sustainability. His Highness also stated how the award stimulates interest in scientific research in various environmental fields to adopt innovative scientific and practical solutions that will address current and future environmental challenges and ensure a sustainable future for all.

His Highness commended the award’s role in stimulating excellence and creativity in environmental preservation, protection and sustainability, its encouragement of initiative and leadership, and for its effects in enhancing interest in environmental work and boosting regulatory compliance.

His Highness congratulated all the winners in all categories of the award, and called on them to continue their distinguished achievements, success and leadership in the future. He also expressed his hopes that his award would witness more participation in its next edition and would stimulate society, institutions and facilities to enhance interest in environmental work and nature preservation in our beloved country.

His Excellency Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi said: “Caring for planet Earth is no longer a luxury, rather, preserving its natural balance and biological diversity has become the focus of attention of decision-makers, scientists and activists in the environmental field by launching inspiring and innovative initiatives. This will contribute to shedding more light on environmental challenges and their impacts and drawing everyone’s attention to the necessity of working in the field of environmental protection.”

His Excellency recalled the words of the UAE’s Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed, when he said, 'Protecting the environment should not be and should not be seen as an issue for the government and official authorities only, but rather it is an issue that concerns us all. It is everyone’s responsibility, and the responsibility of every individual in our society, citizens and residents.'

His Excellency added: “Today we realise that we will not be able to address the exceptional challenges that our world faces today without discovering exceptional talents and bold ideas. Therefore, the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Environmental Award was launched to contribute to spreading environmental awareness and culture and motivate individuals and institutions towards environmental creativity and innovation.

“This award seeks to support scientists and specialised experts who are working to find new and distinct environmental solutions. This is in light of the challenges facing the world in the field of the environment, which require continuous and integrated efforts to reach effective solutions.

“In its first edition, the award witnessed clear interest, demand and interaction, and succeeded in discovering a group of individuals and institutions in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi that always seeks leadership in the field of environmental preservation and protection. This confirms the foresight and vision of H.H Sheikh Hamdan, who directed the launch of this award, which enhances the image and status of the Emirate of Abu Dhabi at the local and international levels.”

A total of 150 participants, comprising individuals and institutions from various environmental fields in Abu Dhabi, submitted applications to participate in the award, organised by EAD in cooperation with the European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM). Participants competed in three main award categories, with six sub-categories in each. Eighty-six applicants were qualified to participate in the award, while 68 participants completed the desk evaluation requirements, and 40 participants were shortlisted for final evaluation, which culminated in 18 winners.

Her Excellency Dr Shaikha Al Dhaheri Chair of the Award’s Supreme Committee emphasised the importance of setting globally recognised standards for the award, which led to the successful partnership with EFQM, one of the most prominent global organisations in performance excellence. This partnership resulted in EAD becoming the first entity in the world to develop standards related to environmental sustainability, based on international best practices, and approved by EFQM.

Russell Longmuir, CEO of EFQM said: “This is an important addition to the list of leading awards in the field of the environment and sustainability, and we affirm our continued commitment to supporting efforts to preserve the environment and achieve a sustainable future. We thank EAD for this opportunity to cooperate and partner on this important project, and we are proud to be part of these global efforts. We also look forward to continuing to work with all our partners around the world to achieve a better future for all.

“Through our award partnership, we developed the evaluation criteria and tool in cooperation with a team of experts from EFQM Middle East and EAD,” he added. “Many introductory workshops were held, specialised evaluators and participants were trained, and the award’s evaluation cycle was successfully managed.

“The committee comprehensively reviewed each application to ensure adherence to the specified standards, and a team of 37 specialised evaluators was formed.”

During the ceremony His Highness awarded His Excellency Mohammed Al Bowardi the Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Medal of Honor in recognition of his efforts in serving the nation for over nearly four decades, during which His Excellency worked to translate the vision of the wise leadership in preserving the environment, protecting biological diversity and achieving sustainable development. His Excellency Al Bowardi has also made clear contributions and exerted outstanding effort in launching several environmental initiatives in the field of preserving nature and living species, not only at the local level, but also at the international level.

The Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Environmental Medal, which honours the success of community members in Abu Dhabi who have positively impacted the environment, was awarded to 10 individuals in three sub-categories.

In the Optimal Natural Resource Users Category, Saif Saif Ghanem Al Suwaidi was awarded first place, and Saeed Salem Saeed Bulahj Al-Rumaithi second.

In the Environmental Initiator Category, Arabella Willing was awarded first place, Muhammad Abdullah Al-Mazrouei placed second, while Fatima Saeed Al Ali and Muhammad Moheb Hassan Dowidar came in third place.

In the Environmental Influencer Category, Ghaya Saad Nassib Al Ahbabi won first place, Lara Rudar was awarded second, while Majid Abdullah bin Saad and Kathleen Russell received awards in third place.

The Environmental Research Project category recognises the best individual or collective scientific research in the field of environment and sustainable development, through which innovative scientific and practical solutions are presented to mitigate current and future environmental problems and challenges. Three research teams won the Environmental Research sub-category award, which targets sustainable environmental development research in Abu Dhabi. Research on ‘Energy Harvesting from the Mixing of Wastewater Streams With Different Salinity for Sustainable Treatment and Recharging of Underground Water Aquifers’ was awarded first place, ‘Monitoring the Water Quality of the Arabian Gulf from Space’ second, while ‘Phytochemicals of Conocarpus spp. as a Natural and Safe Source of Phenolic Compounds and Antioxidants’ was awarded in third place.

Two research institutions competed in the Research Institution sub-category, however, the award was withheld.

The Environmental Performance Award, which focuses on best practices or pioneering activities in the field of environment and sustainable development for private institutions and industrial facilities, was awarded to five entities in the awards two sub-categories. Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC GROUP) won first place in the Commercial Category subcategory targeting private companies, the aviation sector and others, and RECAPP by Veolia won second place, with Aldar Properties taking third place.

In the subcategory Industrial Category, Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) was awarded first, and Dolphin Energy Ltd second place.

As a gesture of appreciation for individuals, research and institutions being awarded the Sheikh Hamdan Bin Zayed Environmental Award, the winners will receive a medal, a certificate of appreciation, and a financial reward. The first-place winner will receive AED80,000, with AED60,000 going to the runner up, and the third-place winner receiving AED40,000.

The research team that wins the Environmental Scientific Research Award in the subcategory Environmental Research Category will receive a medal, a certificate of appreciation, and a financial reward. The first, second and third-placed research teams will receive AED250,000, AED200,000, and AED150,000, respectively.

The industrial institutions and facilities that win the Environmental Performance Award will also receive a certificate of appreciation and a shield. They will also benefit from accelerated environmental licensing and approval procedures, classification as low environmental risk facility, and a reduced number of environmental inspection visits. Winning industrial establishments have the right to place the award’s logo on its documents, publications, website, and in advertising campaigns until the results of the next session are announced.