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Turmoil could lead to birth of a brave new world

Abu Dhabi,03 Sep 2020

The world this year has witnessed an unprecedented upheaval, the effect of which will continue to be felt for years. In addition to creating the biggest health crisis in modern times, it has brought about chaos in society, environment and individual lives, with millions having lost their jobs and millions more facing the prospect of their livelihoods being shattered as the global economy decelerates.

The headwinds created by the coronavirus pandemic also seem to have majorly disrupted the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs), launched with great hopes at the United Nations General Assembly in September 2015 to achieve a better and more sustainable future for all.

Such a bleak picture of a world tends to eclipse the emerging signs of transformation with humanity becoming keenly aware of the value of sustainability as it looks to the future. The event has altered the views of those who previously dismissed the notion that human action, nature and economies are interconnected.

There is wider recognition today that the gravity of crises fuelled by climate change is no less than those induced by Covid-19. Such a shift in perspective could not just push governments to take urgent action, but it could also prompt industries to shift from polluting and wasteful manufacturing and production practices towards more sustainable ones where there is a symbiosis between consumption and production cycles. This is an idea that corresponds to responsible consumption and production patterns under SDG 12, which Abu Dhabi Fund for Development (ADFD) helps partner countries to achieve through funding of sustainable projects.

For nearly five decades, the Fund has been promoting sustainable development around the world, while catering to the UAE’s economic diversification efforts through financing environmentally and economically sustainable projects in key sectors. Consider some of the recent ones that could serve as models such as an innovative sustainable project in the Maldives that simultaneously addresses the country’s waste-management and energy challenges in an eco-friendly manner; the Al Dahra Holding project, which supports food-security initiatives; and the waste-to-energy facility in Sharjah (a joint venture between Masdar and Bee’ah that bolstered the UAE’s leading position in the development of sustainable projects). All these initiatives are aligned with the SDGs.

In 2013 we committed $350 million over seven funding cycles to finance renewable-energy projects in developing countries that are members of IRENA to increase clean energy access for their peoples, improve livelihoods and advance sustainable development. In total, we have so far financed 78 renewable energy projects, whose total value stands at US$1.2 billion (AED4.4 billion). Spanning across 62 countries, these initiatives have transformed millions of lives.

It is crucial for governments and organisations funding development initiatives to help businesses and companies all over the world to move towards more sustainable manufacturing practices. It is equally critical for development financers to maintain their focus on sustainable and innovative projects, as these funding entities play a vital role in the process of transition through international cooperation and partnerships that are catalysts for spurring creativity and ingenuity across sectors. These actions can help us achieve the 17 Sustainable Development Goals, thus ensuring that everyone in the world enjoys the fruits of prosperity and peace.