#WorldHealthDay: Green puts UAE in world's top 3

UAE is the third country in the world to improve environmental sustainability through adoption of Ecological Footprint Initiative, after Switzerland and Japan. [Image via Shutterstock]

The UAE ecological footprint dropped to 7.75 hectares per person last year, down from 11.68 hectares in 2006, the Ministry of Environment and Water has reported citing improved environmental sustainability through the country’s adoption of Ecological Footprint Initiative (EFI) in 2007.

UAE is the third country in the world to do so after Switzerland and Japan.

According to 2014 Living Planet Report, five countries – China, US, India, Brazil and Russia – account for 47.2 per cent of the world’s ecological footprint.

Despite UAE urban growth, which brings more carbon emissions and a greater ecological footprint, efforts to promote a greener economy and environmental policies have improved the situation.

The ministry has set standards to ensure lighting product imports are energy-efficient, especially for residential buildings, which account for 57 per cent of the country’s ecological footprint.

The government also aims to develop standards for fuel and cars, to reduce carbon emissions.

In 2012, the Green Applications Initiative was aimed at lowering power consumption at government buildings and the carbon footprint which accounts for 83 per cent of the UAE ecological footprint.

Every two years, Global Footprint Network, World Wildlife Fund (WWF) and the Zoological Society of London publish ‘Living Planet Report’, the world's leading, science-based analysis on health of our planet and the impact of human activity.

The ‘Living Planet Report’ uses the Ecological Footprint and additional complementary measures to explore the changing state of global biodiversity and human consumption. The report documents the extent of human pressure on the planet, how that compares across nations, and how it is impacting the natural world.

The Living Planet Report 2014, released September 30, 2014, shows humanity’s demand on the planet is more than 50 per cent larger than what nature can renew, jeopardizing the well-being of humans as well as populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish.

Humanity's Ecological Footprint has more than doubled since 1961, according to the report. At the same time, vertebrate wildlife populations have declined, on average, by more than half in just four decades, as measured by the Living Planet Index.

The report says that it would take 1.5 Earths to produce the resources necessary to support humanity’s current Ecological Footprint. This global "overshoot" means, for example, that we are cutting timber more quickly than trees re-grow and releasing CO2 faster than nature can sequester it.

The UAE government launched ‘Al Basma Al Beeiya’ (Ecological Footprint in Arabic) Initiative in 2007 to understand the numbers and methodology behind the ranking and began a multi-stakeholder collaboration involving Global Footprint Network that continues today.

The Global Footprint Network says the launch of the Ecological Footprint Initiative set the UAE on a course to becoming the third country in the world, after Switzerland and Japan, to conduct in-depth research on its Ecological Footprint.

"One key point that jumps out is that the Living Planet Index (LPI), which measures more than 10,000 representative populations of mammals, birds, reptiles, amphibians and fish, has declined by 52 per cent since 1970," said Marco Lambertini, Director-General of WWF International in his forward to the latest edition of the Living Planet Report.

Lambertini adds, "Put another way, in less than two human generations, population sizes of vertebrate species have dropped by half. These are the living forms that constitute the fabric of the ecosystems which sustain life on Earth – and the barometer of what we are doing to our own planet, our only home. We ignore their decline at our peril."

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