The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) in collaboration with Emirates Nature – WWF announced the launch of its new Sahim app. The first-of-its-kind app was created to encourage community-driven citizen science.

The app comes under the umbrella of the Sahim programme – which means ‘contribute’ in Arabic – and is a comprehensive UAE-wide citizen-based science initiative that allows the public to partake in scientific environmental research. The programme aims to nurture a new epoch of citizen science in the UAE, which will help support environmental conservation research, decision-making, and the development of policies and regulations.

The new app was designed to engage the community to help document single-use plastics and waste present in marine and terrestrial environments, and was launched at an event in KEZAD Musaffah in partnership with AD Ports Group’s Economic Cities and Free Zones, which provided the location as part of a larger collaboration. The corporate event was attended by key EAD stakeholders and partners, introducing them to Sahim and encouraging them to undertake tangible environmental actions through effective citizen science clean-ups.

Available for download from the Apple Store and Google Play, Sahim is a community-driven initiative, empowering individuals to take real-world action for a more sustainable environment, which is the main mandate of EAD. The user-friendly tool, which is accessible to people of all ages, will allow residents of Abu Dhabi to support EAD by encouraging them to report any single-use plastics and waste found on beaches and terrestrial locations.

The Sahim app helps users to categorise, record, and upload their findings. The data is then reported directly to EAD, providing detailed insights to expert researchers and policymakers. This allows EAD’s team to make better decisions, formulate new regulations and provide recommendations to leaders in Abu Dhabi regarding solutions to curb waste.

Ahmed Baharoon, Executive Director, Environmental Information, Science & Outreach Management at EAD, said at the launch event: “Citizen science, which involves the community in a direct role, has become a worldwide trend, allowing research on a larger scale. At EAD, it is essential for us to support this important global movement and we are proud to have developed the Sahim app. This contemporary tool will encourage community action and help assist us in gathering first-hand, real-time data of single-use plastics, and other waste found on the beaches and terrestrial habitats of Abu Dhabi.

“Once we receive this data we will have better knowledge of the current situation, as well as community behaviour, and we will be able to develop smart policies and regulations for future solutions. The data also helps us to guide the Abu Dhabi Government on best practices for a cleaner marine environment.”

Baharoon stressed that EAD will also partner with government entities, non-government organisations, schools and universities, to maximise the app’s utilisation and to ensure that the entire community takes part in gathering data.

Complementing the app, EAD will also organise beach and terrestrial clean-ups at several prime locations as part of its efforts in making Abu Dhabi one of the most liveable destinations in the world. Volunteers will be invited to join the clean-ups and share their experiences on social media to encouragement wider engagement.