Sunday 18 April 2021 - 9:02:40 pm

Expo 2020 Dubai’ family calls for action to better manage climate change and protect biodiversity

DUBAI, 21st October, 2020 (WAM) -- The second and final day of Expo 2020 Dubai’s second thematic week brought together numerous members of the Expo family and concluded with a rallying call to action to better manage climate change and protect biodiversity.

Delivered in collaboration with Expo’s Premier Global Trade Partner DP World, it explored solutions for growing food in the desert and examined successful conservation projects around the world. It also probed how technology is changing the way we consider the environment, and discussed sustainable initiatives such as the European Green Deal and the circular economy.

Key highlights and quotes from Day 2 of Expo 2020’s Climate and Biodiversity Week.

The concluding panel discussion for Tuesday focused on the Youth Advisory Group, launched by the UN’s Secretary-General to engage young people in an open and transparent dialogue as the UN raises ambition and accelerates action to address the climate crisis. With young people on the front lines of climate action, showing us what bold leadership looks like, this talk asked: How can we best build on this momentum? Nisreen El Saim, UN Secretary General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, said, "Biodiversity is one of the most affected and most vulnerable areas of climate change. We are already losing a lot of species. We were in a very balanced world and now that equilibrium has shifted. Things are not as they were in the past and, of course, things will not remain the same in the future if we continue the way we are."

Paloma Costa, UN Secretary General's Youth Advisory Group on Climate Change, said, "It is imperative that from now on we really work with the agreements we make among ourselves that respect the continuity of life for this and for future generations. We must adhere to the trade agreements that we are implementing to safeguard the environment for our communities and for our youth's future."

Expo Live is the innovation and partnership programme of Expo 2020 Dubai. Demonstrating that innovation can come from anywhere and can be leveraged for the betterment of people and planet, Expo Live seeks to support and promote inspiring and impactful projects from all around the world. This session spotlighted two promising projects being implemented here in the UAE: the International Centre for Biosaline Aquaculture (ICBA) and Desert Control, exploring how they have developed unique approaches to tackling desertification and addressing sustainable agriculture and food security.

Ole Kristian Sivertsen, Chief Executive Officer, Desert Control, said, "In regards to COVID-19 and food security, I believe it is a strong wake-up call for the world and an opportunity to really start questioning ourselves about the supply chains and how we are producing, distributing and consuming food. It is about challenging traditional thinking. The kind of work we are doing around creating arable land where there is little of it and addressing the issue of water scarcity is key to succeeding in creating stronger, local food production.'' ''Norway and the UAE have lots in common – we are nations of innovation, and powerhouses in the oil and gas industry. The solution of liquifying clay actually started in the oil and gas industry – this product can't be used in agriculture, but then we had the idea of using this technology and applying it to desert soil. This is why our main focus has been the Middle East and the UAE in particular. It is great that we can use solutions found by the oil and gas industries to contribute to a greener world," Ole Sivertsen added.

Dr Dionysia Angeliki Lyra, Halophyte Agronomist, International Center for Biosaline Agriculture, said, "We look into ways to add value in a desert environment through using every bit of low-quality water and land resource that exists, to produce food. We are implementing an integrated farming system. And we are happy that we are able to develop nutritious products that can improve food security in the UAE. We have limitations in our resources, including fresh water and land, so we had to look for ways to use what we have. Another factor that drove our thinking is recognising the high levels of imports in the UAE. It made us think of ways to produce local products, especially with the rise of COVID-19.'' Throughout the day, members of the Expo international family took to the virtual stage to showcase impactful interventions implemented in their countries that may offer tangible sustainable solutions to everyone. From PRISMA, the satellite system that Italy uses to monitor pollution and environmental changes, to discovering why Chile is the ‘hidden champion’ of sustainable energy, to how biodiversity thrives in the extreme conditions of Oman’s unique cloud forest – these talks aimed to educate, inspire, and share knowledge and ideas.

Giorgio Saccoccia, President of the Italian Space Agency, ASI, said, "Last year, the Italian Space Agency launched an innovative Earth observation system called PRISMA, which... assists with research in areas such as environmental monitoring, resource management and pollution control. In Italy, we believe that international cooperation is essential to mitigate the effects of climate change and, for this reason, we have made the data captured by PRISMA open to everyone, free of charge."

Rossana Gaete, Executive Director of H2 Chile, said, "Chile has the highest renewable energy potential in the world, with strong environmental commitments and a carbon neutrality goal. We also have an open economy and 26 international trade agreements that allow us to provide hydrogen and its derivatives to the entire world. Today, green hydrogen is considered the ‘new gold’ due to its versatility and business potential. Indeed, it is predicted that hydrogen will be the principal energy source in the future."

Saif AlHatmi, Botanist, Oman Botanical Garden, said, "The Oman Government has set legislation and policies for wildlife protection and nature conservation. In addition, a national strategy is well established for sustainable use of land to ensure a balance between what the country needs for development and to safeguard the country’s biodiversity. There is also a research strategy for the Dhofar region to protect and assist its tropical forest, with the aim of increasing awareness and knowledge of the importance of protecting the land for humans, animals and plants.'' Adam Miller, Executive Director and Co-Founder, Planet Indonesia, said, "We believe that people are central to biodiversity conservation. Indonesia is a country with some of the most biodiverse ecosystems on the planet, with most of these being managed and protected by indigenous communities. But it is a country where biodiversity and rural poverty meet. At Planet Indonesia we look to address the underlying factors of biodiversity loss by reducing those socioeconomic inequalities in rural communities that cause the exploitation of natural resources. This results in community-led solutions that drive conservation through a rights-based approach."

Guillaume Cartier, Vice Chairman and SVP Marketing and Sales for Nissan AMIEO and President of Nissan AMI, commented, "Our partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai echoes our vision for the future of mobility, one that is not only more sustainable, but is also safer, smarter and more connected. Globally, we have been championing electrification for nearly a decade now – and we are delighted to have been part of the pre-Expo Climate and Biodiversity Week.''

WAM/Tariq alfaham/MOHD AAMIR