The Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) highlighted its most important achievements during 2021 in its annual report, which was issued today in digital format for the third consecutive year.

The report focused on EAD’s efforts in achieving its strategic vision to ensure a sustainable future for all by preserving biodiversity, mitigating the effects of climate change, monitoring and controlling the quality of air, sea water and soil, and maintaining the sustainability and health of the terrestrial and marine environment in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi.

In the foreword of the report, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Representative of the Ruler of Abu Dhabi in the Al Dhafra Region, and Chairman of the Board of Directors of EAD said: “Fifty years ago, our Founding Father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan united this great nation to create the United Arab Emirates, which has since become an illuminating beacon of progress, success, vision and prosperity. Through his astute outlook, he paved the way for the country to grow and develop and transform into a safe and prosperous haven for all citizens and residents. He also paved the way, with compassionate perception, for a positive future for the environment, which is why the late Sheikh Zayed is regarded as the First Environmentalist.”

His Highness added: “In line with the vision of our wise leadership, we too at the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi also have a vision for the next 50 years and will continue working, as we develop, at how we can create the perfect balance between the socio-economic growth of Abu Dhabi and conserving the environment for our future generations.”

His Highness elaborated: “Furthermore, in line with our government’s directives, in 2021 we celebrated two major UAE announcements. The first being the Net to Zero by 2050 strategic initiative announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai. In 2023, Abu Dhabi will host the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change, also known as COP 28. We are delighted to see the UAE take a leadership role in the dialogue on climate change on Emirati soil, and we at EAD will play a pivotal role in participating in mitigating this global threat and challenge.”

His Excellency Mohamed Ahmed Al Bowardi, Vice Chairman of EAD said in the foreword of the report: “Fifty years have flown by since the union of the Emirates which has resulted in the unprecedented growth of this prominent country into a leading example that is admired and respected by everyone around the world. The UAE has become synonymous with success and innovation, and due to the unwavering wisdom and support of our great leadership we all aspire to make way for a future as bright as the past five decades – especially in the field of the environment. We at the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi want to be a part of the United Arab Emirates’ bright future, which has chartered a clear path to accomplish quality achievements in a variety of critical sectors that will contribute to the country’s long-term success.”

He added: “At the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi we aim to be part of the UAE’s dynamic future and the year 2021 was an extremely successful one for us at EAD as we are part of the nation’s success. We will always align ourselves with the vision of our government, transforming it into a reality on the ground in the emirate of Abu Dhabi to ensure that we leave for posterity a clean and healthy environment to sustainably enjoy.”

Her Excellency Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Managing Director and Member of the Board of Directors of EAD said in the foreword: “This year has seen a blend of remote work due to COVID-19, followed by the return to normalcy in our EAD offices, where we immediately picked up where we had left off. It was also a year of elation where we joined hands with everyone in the UAE to celebrate the Golden Jubilee of this rapidly growing nation. And it was also the year in which we began implementation of our new strategy 2021-2025 - a stepping stone upon which to plan for the next 50 years, to ensure that we are always looking into the future with clear vision.”

She added: “We are well prepared for the decades to come, and we have established a strong base for all our environmental efforts since our inception. We have gained wisdom from all the lessons learnt, and we have ensured that we have long-term conservation initiatives and projects to propel us forward.”

“We know that sustainability is at the core of what we do and who we are, and we also know that we need to leave a much better world behind for our children and grandchildren. We will achieve this through strategic thinking, research and development, scientific methodologies and creativity, allowing us to realise our goals of raising the bar in everything we do. We will continue striving to consistently be an organisation that is a force to be reckoned with locally, regionally and internationally.”

Commenting on the achievements made by EAD over the past years, Her Excellency Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of EAD said: “The continuous success of the United Arab Emirates leads to the success of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. This year we all enjoyed ruminating over the success of the past 50 years since the union of the UAE and how far as a nation we have come. We also reflected on what we need to do to achieve the same pace of progress and development for the next five decades.

“We are well aware that the brilliance of the UAE is due to its wise and visionary leadership. Therefore, I would like to express my gratitude to His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, President of the United Arab Emirates, as well as High Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed bin Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the United Arab Emirates, who have served as role models of dedication, commitment, loyalty and patriotism. It is because of these traits that the UAE is a world leader in several fields and sectors – of which the environment is one. It is also because of them that we won the bid to host COP 28 in 2023 and I am truly convinced that we will organise a very memorable event,” she added.

H.E. Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri expressed her appreciation to His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed bin Nahyan, the Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of EAD’s Board of Directors: “He has supported and empowered us year after year to ensure that we have all the resources we require to succeed.”

Among the most prominent achievements for EAD during 2021 was launching the 2021-2025 Strategic Plan, which further defined EAD’s vision, mission and values to give a clearer view of the new strategy. This is in addition to launching the integrated water resources management plan in Abu Dhabi, monitoring soil quality using cutting-edge satellite drone and artificial intelligence technology, developing a smart model for the Makhazin Al Khayr project to protect groundwater and achieve water security, and releasing findings of the Fourth Cycle GHG Emissions Inventory in Abu Dhabi.

Last year, His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan issued a resolution concerning the list of administrative penalties and fines for environmental violations in Abu Dhabi, which included 99 violations that vary between AED1,000 – AED1,000,000. Also, during the past year, it was announced that the EAD Managing Director and Secretary General was elected to key positions at the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN).

In the field of biodiversity, in 2021 EAD launched the largest Coral Reef Rehabilitation project in the region, which included rehabilitating 1 million pieces of coral reefs in Abu Dhabi. Last year also saw the largest release of turtles in the region – 150 animals – with the participation of His Highness Sheikh Theyab bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, and the launch of the Marine Conservation and Fisheries Research Vessel that will study fish stocks and marine biodiversity, which is considered the most advanced and developed vessels in the Middle East.

Also, during the past year, 4 new species were discovered scientifically for the first time in the history of science, and 8 other types were registered at the UAE level and 8 other types were registered at the Abu Dhabi Emirate level. In 2021 EAD recorded a remarkable improvement in the in the fisheries ‘Sustainable Exploitation Index’ for the third year in a row. The index increased from 8.9% in 2018 to 62.3% at the end of 2021.

Another important achievement was the successful translocation of 25 Scimitar-horned Oryx and 25 Addax to Chad, where 18 Scimitar-horned Oryx were fitted with satellite tracking, and 15 new calves were born in 2021. Also, the Dugong and Seagrass Toolkit was selected among the top 25 UAE government innovations by Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation.

The achievements also included the monitoring of rare blue holes in the waters of Al Dhafra Region, with three new invertebrate species registered. These included the Biting Midge (Dasyhelea patiae) and Crabronid Wasp (Oryttus konradschmidti) in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve, and the Perilampid Wasp (Perilampus houbarensis) in Al Houbara Protected Area. In addition, 76 falcons were released in Republic of Uzbekistan, as part of the Sheikh Zayed Falcon Release Programme, with total releases crossing the 2,000-mark since its launch in 1995.

Other important achievements include the launch of the new online portal for the world’s waterbird populations in partnership with Wetlands International, as well as the remarkable 29 per cent increase in the Sustainable Fishing Index, and a 22 per cent increase in the number of Arabian Oryx in the reserve in Al Dhafra Region, where the number of the herd has reached 946 heads.

Also, last year, the EAD launched ‘50 Oasis’ in Al Wathba Wetland Reserve in celebration of the UAE's 50th National Day, which will be the first botanical garden comprised of 50 species of local plants in Abu Dhabi. Similarly, EAD launched the Abu Dhabi Red List of Species which include an assessment of 244 terrestrial and marine species of Abu Dhabi Emirate.

Last year also saw the launch of the Mangrove Rehabilitation Project’s second phase, in partnership with ENGIE, using drone planting technology to sow mangrove seeds, which aims to plant more than 35,000 mangrove seeds in Mirfa lagoon.

Al Daleela” – a digital application for the preservation of historic island names of Abu Dhabi was also introduced, as well as a new series of environmental podcasts, titled “Naturally Educated.”

In 2021, EAD released the Wild Abu Dhabi: Turtles of Al Dhafra documentary and participated in Expo 2020 Dubai through airing the documentaries Our Sea…Our Future and Zayed's Antarctic Lights.” Furthermore, Abu Dhabi Falcon Hospital won the 2021 Travellers’ Choice and the Middle East’s Responsible Tourism Awards.