July 29, 2020 – Today, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) co-hosted a virtual workshop to inform and consult federal and local stakeholders about the goals and strategic objectives of the National Air Quality Strategy (2021-2031), as well as the framework and key findings of the baseline study. Intending to take it forward in a participatory approach, by having stakeholders’ active discussions, the workshop brought together more than 40 participants from over 17 entities, representing municipalities, environmental authorities, and other local entities from different Emirates.
In line with the UAE Green Agenda 2015-2030 and the National Climate Change Plan 2017-2050 developed by the Ministry, in collaboration with the GGGI, and also against the backdrop of the UAE National Air Emissions Inventory completed by the Ministry and GGGI in 2019, the National Air Quality Strategy aims to enhance air quality to contribute safe and healthy environment that improves the quality of life. The purpose of the Strategy is to lead and coordinate the actions from federal and local institutions for streamlined monitoring and management of air quality, and effective mitigation of pollution.
The strategic objectives of the Strategy will include:
- Reduce the health impacts linked to air pollution and improve quality of life.
- Strengthen policy, institutional and governance framework relating to air quality through the cooperation of federal and local agencies.
- Promote the adoption and implementation of cleaner and innovative technologies that contribute to the sustainable economic growth of the country.
- Develop human resources and technical capacity of the government agencies for effective management of air quality issues.
- Promote Awareness of air quality matters throughout government and society.
The first half of the workshop kicked-off with the presentation of the air quality strategy framework, highlighting alignment with the existing air quality regulations and the international benchmarking of relevant air quality initiatives (e.g. EU, UK, Canada, China, Singapore, and South Korea). Accordingly, the Strategy will focus on four key areas of air quality (e.g. outdoor, indoor, odor, and ambient noise), and qualitative and/or quantitative targets along with a range of supporting initiatives will be developed at monitoring, mitigation, and management level. Each focus area of air quality has identified key polluting sectors or sources including:
- Outdoor air quality: Energy, Transport, Industry, Oil & Gas, Construction/ Urban Development, Waste, Agriculture, Natural Sources
- Indoor air quality: Construction Material, Building Maintenance, Cleaning products, Air Conditioning and Ventilation, Furniture and Decoration Materials
- Odor: Solid Waste Management, Wastewater Management, Industrial Facilities Subcategories (e.g.: Oil & Gas, Fertilizers, Chemical, etc.)
- Ambient Noise: Transport, Construction, Industrial, Residential and Commercial Buildings
The MOCCAE and GGGI also presented the key findings in terms of the UAE’s current status, gaps, and proposed priorities concerning air quality monitoring, mitigation, and management, as well as relevant global indicators, set out by UN SDGs, Environmental Performance Index, and World Health Organization as described below.
The workshop proceeded with PESTEL (Political, Economic, Social, Technological, Environmental, Legal) impact analysis in a breakout session, dividing the participants holding relevant expertise to the four focus areas – Outdoor, Indoor, Odor, and Ambient Noise. To highlight, the participants emphasized that there is a need for clearly defined and differentiated roles and responsibilities among the federal and local authorities, and also called for a review of outdated air quality legislations, as well as the establishment of strengthened regulations and guidelines on indoor air quality, odor, and ambient noise. Furthermore, as the implementation of advanced monitoring and mitigation technologies have a cost implication, the participants proposed an establishment of a working group to conduct a cost-benefit analysis assessing the expected investment costs and quantified economic, social, and environmental impacts. The participants also proposed that implementation of the strategy should be gradual, allowing public and private sectors a smooth transition. It is likely to cause immediate burden from a financial perspective, but the stakeholder also acknowledged it is essential for the quality of life and economic, social, and environmental benefits in the long run. Summarized feedback from the participants is listed in Table 1 below.
Air quality is designated a national priority and a key performance indicator under UAE Vision 2021, the national development and planning blueprint. The Ministry reiterated that the strategy aims to lead and gauge coordination between federal and local entities, for streamlined monitoring and management of air quality, and effective mitigation of pollution. The Ministry and GGGI shared the plans to hold another round of the workshop to present a range of qualitative and quantitative air quality targets and the draft strategy in Q4 of the year and submit the final strategy to the Cabinet latest by Q1 of 2021.