His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Ruler's Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Board of Directors of the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD), issued a new resolution concerning the list of administrative penalties and fines for violators of environmental regulations in Abu Dhabi.

The resolution has been developed with the purpose of strengthening EAD's regulatory and supervisory role and supporting mechanisms to prevent actions and activities that negatively impact the environment. It also covers all practices that harm the environment which are not included in the currently applicable regulations, thereby enhancing compliance to environmental regulations in the Emirate.

The resolution effectively enforces the set of administrative penalties and fines stipulated by Law no. (10) of 2020, for the amendment of some articles of Law no. (16) of 2005 concerning the restructuring of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. Under the law, EAD was granted the authority to impose an administrative fine on actions violating this Law and its executive and regulatory bylaws. This is in addition to re-enforcing its implementation rules, policies, resolutions, and circulars. This should support EAD's supervisory role and enable the Agency to undertake its role more effectively in preserving the environment and biodiversity in Abu Dhabi.

This resolution provides EAD with a legal tool that empowers inspectors to implement the list of administrative violations and fines to facilities, projects and individuals directly, which will reduce the number of judicial referrals for environmental violations.

The decision also includes the possibility of reconciliation for violations that may be reconciled according to specific criteria with EAD. These include the nature of the violation and its environmental impact or damage in return for reducing the value of the prescribed violation by 25%. This will motivate establishments and projects to reconcile with the Agency to reduce the value of violations provided that the causes of the violation are removed first, upon request.

An administrative mechanism to impose fines will be utilized, including several procedural guarantees, such as a grievance system and reconciliation against reduction of the imposed fine amount. This would encourage facilities and projects to reconcile with the Agency to reduce the value of fines – provided the environmental impacts of the violation have been removed before.

Violations were classified into three categories: namely development and industrial violations, hunting, biodiversity and reserves' related violations, and fishing and discharge in marine environment violations. The value of each fine was determined in accordance with the recurrence of the violation, gradually increasing upon the second and next violations. The value of administrative fines varies between AED 1,000 and AED 1,000,000 – depending on the violation and the extent of damage caused to the environment and recurrence rate.

Abu Dhabi government's concern about the protection of the environment is evident in the development programmes and plans, which consider economic and social impacts on the environment. As a result, the Agency conducted scientific studies and created specialized agencies and organizations to manage and protect the environment, while ensuring proper strategies, laws, and regulations have been put in place to protect the environment and achieve sustainable development.

The Agency's environmental vision is based on the principal of environment protection while maintaining and achieving the ambitious economic goals of Abu Dhabi and identifying sustainability requirements in all concerned sectors.

The Agency, being the competent authority tasked with all matters related to the environment in Abu Dhabi, is mainly dedicated to the protection of the environment, wildlife, and biodiversity. This is achieved by conducting scientific research, setting, and implementing policies that support sustainable development, undertaking control and protection activities– specifically in relation to evaluating environmental impact and issuing licenses.

EAD is also responsible for the inspection and control on projects, activities and facilities in various sectors in the Emirate, with the aim of ensuring environmental compliance to eliminate or mitigate the damage to the environment and reduce the environmental footprint.

The Agency works in accordance with the roadmap set by Abu Dhabi Plan, which represents the overall strategic plan for the Emirate, providing guidelines for sustainable development and growth. This roadmap aligns with the corporate strategic plan, through which the Agency aims to build a robust organization with unique capabilities to manage environmental risks in Abu Dhabi.

This is in addition to enhancing innovation and research opportunities in preserving natural resources. In this context, EAD continuously works with environmental organizations and agencies to ensure the implementation of the best global practices.

EAD acquires its legal and executive authorities from fourteen federal and local laws, implementing policies in accordance with those laws. EAD is tasked with monitoring environmental compliance as environmental protection is becoming the real challenge. EAD also demonstrates efficiency and consistency in the organizational approach, followed by the Agency in all environmental aspects, in light of its diverse responsibilities.

Currently, the Agency utilizes smart electronic tools and systems that enable it to conduct environmental inspections and ensure the commitment and compliance of licensed projects and facilities with the environmental requirements. Similarly, EAD is tasked to evaluating risks and enhancing the implementation of the integrated environmental commitment system. Such tools assist EAD in preparing evaluation reports of industrial sectors to provide a clear overview of the environmental situation in the Emirate – supporting effective decision-making for the benefit of the environment and the society.

According to EAD's strategy, it constantly focuses on evaluating its existing practices in various environmental fields to identify gaps and challenges to create an encompassing legislative framework that enhances environmental compliance and enforcement in line with the best global practices. The Agency also works closely with organizations and companies operating in Abu Dhabi to make sure they are fully aware of its demands, environmental legislations and laws, and how to avoid committing violations.

Abiding by the environmental laws and controls plays a significant role in building Abu Dhabi's bright future and contributes towards protecting the environment and natural heritage in the Emirate whilst achieving sustainable development. National staff boast specialized technical expertise in all environmental aspects, and many of them were granted legal authorities after becoming qualified in various environmental fields such as evaluation, licensing, audit, environmental compliance, air pollution, soil, biodiversity, fishing, and hunting.