UNHCR lauds UAE's support to Syrian refugees in Jordan

UNHCR lauds UAE's support to Syrian refugees in Jordan

Amman: United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees (UNHCR) has welcomed the initiative of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan on the provision of humanitarian aid to the Syrian refugees in Jordan.

Jordanian News Agency (Petra) said Andrew Harper, UNHCR representative to Jordan welcomed the move and referred to the depth of strategic relations between the UAE and UNHCR in service of the Syrian refugees in Jordan.

He added that the UAE has so far provided US$25 million as relief and humanitarian assistance to the Syrian refugees in Jordan. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Women's training centre opened in Pakistan

Khyber, Pakistan: In line with the directives of President His Highness Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the Emirati project to assist Pakistan has opened the first centre for training women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa, in Pakistan.

The centre, built at a total cost of US$ 500,000, was handed to provincial government in a ceremony which was attended by the project's director Abdullah Khalifa Al Ghafli, Commander of the GOC 45th Engineers Division of the Pakistani Armed Forces Major-General Zahir Shah and a number of officials.

The 25,000 square-foot centre is equipped with the latest machines to train women and girls in sewing, embroidery, leather crafts, designing and decoration.

The centre also offers courses in handicrafts, styling, cosmetics, wax making, cooking and first aid. - Emirates News Agency, WAM


UAE effort to combat human trafficking praised

International labour and human-rights organisations have praised the UAE's efforts to combat human trafficking.

The measures include a new federal law and the formation of the National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking, which will support and enforce it.

The Ministry of Labour's decision to establish an anti-human- trafficking department is a positive initiative, a seminar in the capital was told.

Organised by the ministry, the seminar was attended by senior officials from federal and local bodies, the United Nations anti-crime bureau, the International Labour Organisation, the UN High Commission for Human Rights, representatives of GCC labour ministries and academics and specialists.

The undersecretary of the Ministry of Labour, Mubarak Saeed Al Dhaheri, said: "Combating human trafficking is becoming increasingly important worldwide ... the UAE has taken an important step through enacting Law 51 of 2006 on combating human trafficking. The National Committee to Combat Human Trafficking has been active in areas of documentation and communication with relevant international bodies and authorities and in raising public awareness to the nature and the implications of this phenomenon.

"Human trafficking is a felony as well as a social and moral scourge." – The National


Region's biggest sustainability gathering

Government delegations from more than 140 countries are expected in the capital this week for the first Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Besides high-level officials from the United States, Germany, Denmark, China and India, senior representatives of international organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Energy Agency are also attending.

The event was announced last June during Rio+20, a UN conference on sustainable development. It builds on the success of the World Future Energy Summit, which has been hosted by Abu Dhabi's clean energy company, Masdar, every year since 2008.

This year's event will be the largest gathering on sustainability in the history of the Middle East, said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar.

"With an estimated 30,000 attendees, we continue to reinforce our leadership role as an international hub for renewable energy and sustainability," he said.

"Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is an open global platform that seriously addresses the global energy challenge, while encouraging collaboration and innovation to accelerate the adoption of sustainable development and renewable energy."

The showcase coincides with the third session of the general assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) today and tomorrow.

Founded in 2009, the international clean energy body has 158 states and the European Union as members and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

On Tuesday, delegates will be welcomed to the World Future Energy Summit by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Trade.

Delegates to the three-day event will also hear from Todd Stern, the US special envoy for climate change; Connie Hedegaard, the European climate commissioner; and Jeffrey Sachs, the economist.

On Wednesday, a discussion on the future of renewable energy, scheduled to be attended by Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency, will open the Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference.

Convened by Ren21, a network of organisations in the field of renewables, the event was previously hosted by Delhi, Washington and Bonn.

Today will also feature a discussion on clean energy finance, attended by representatives of the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and Saudi Arabia's Islamic Development Bank.

Tomorrow, the conference will continue with a discussion on future energy innovation, opening with a keynote presentation by Dan Arvizu, director of the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

For the first time, Abu Dhabi will be welcoming water conservation experts to the International Water Summit, that runs from Tuesday to Thursday.

The event was announced last year by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Among the participants will be Michel Jarraud, the chairman of UN-Water, and Fahad Al Attiya, the chairman of the National Food Security Programme in Qatar.

Dr Rachael McDonnell, water policy and governance scientist at the Dubai-based International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, said it is important for the discussion on water to happen alongside the dialogue on energy and clean energy.

Around the world, but especially in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf, energy and water are closely linked, said Dr McDonnell, who is also speaking at the event.

Most of the UAE's potable water is produced by desalination in combined-cycle power and water plants.

"This event is very useful for the region," said Dr McDonnell. "It is important that it will bring together business with government with researchers." – The National


German Environment Minister hails IRENA efforts in developing renewable energy sources

German Environment Minister Peter Altmaier has stressed the importance of forthcoming IRENA meeting, which will bring together the policymakers and high-level representatives of industry, the scientific sector and civil society from all over the world.

"We know that if we carry on with business as usual we will not be able to stop climate change or prevent a massive increase in sea levels, and droughts will become a threat to survival in an increasing number of regions in the world. We therefore need a fundamental paradigm shift towards a green economy, "he added.

The German minister was speaking during the first session of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. ahead of the World Future Energy Summit.

Delivering the speech titled: "Renewable energies are the future", Altmaier enquired, "How can we satisfy the energy demands of our growing economies in 10, 20 and in 30 years time without posing an elementary threat to our natural foundations of life? This is one of the key political challenges at the beginning of the 21st century." He warned if the world carries on with business as usual it will not be able to stop climate change or prevent a massive increase in sea levels, and droughts will become a threat to survival in an increasing number of regions in the world.

The German minister underlined that "We therefore need a fundamental paradigm shift towards a green economy. Technologically speaking we are already in a position to use raw materials and resources much more intelligently and efficiently than we have done in the past - thus creating a green economy that decouples growth from resource consumption, protects the climate and safeguards the natural foundations of life on our planet." He noted that the trend towards a green economy can already be clearly seen today. In 2011 for the first time ever, more wind farms, solar parks, hydropower plants and biogas installations were built worldwide than coal-fired power plants.

"Renewable energies are essential for a reliable, affordable and clean energy supply. In particular wind and solar energy are the way forward, " the German minister said, noting that 118 countries have now adopted national expansion targets for renewable energies, and worldwide over 3.5 million people work in the renewables sector.

He noted that the outlook for the future is very promising. According to the latest IPCC report, by 2050 almost 80 percent of global energy demand could be covered by renewables, and from a technological perspective this figure could even be much higher.

Germany is moving forward on this path, he continued, indicating that by 2050 "we want to cut our greenhouse gas emissions by up to 95 percent. To this end, at least 80 percent of electricity is to come from renewable sources. But that is just the beginning. We want to heat our buildings in an environmentally sound way, we want our cars to run climate-friendly, above all, we want to achieve a completely new dimension of energy efficiency." The German minister underscored that the German automobile industry is investing in electric mobility, the construction sector is developing buildings that generate more electricity than they consume. "With the transformation of its energy system, Germany has paved the way for a new age of entrepreneurship." - Emirates News Agency, WAM


Irena members gather from around the world

High-level delegations from more than 100 countries are meeting in Abu Dhabi today and tomorrow for the third assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena).

The assembly is held annually in the UAE capital, where Irena is headquartered. It allows members, currently numbering 104 countries and the European Union, to make decisions about the workings and future of the organisations. All in all, 160 countries are part of the Irena process, although not all are full members.

The gathering is expected to approve Irena's working programme for 2013 and its core budget of US$18 million (Dh66.1m), and to highlight some key achievements and initiatives, said Dr Adnan Amin, the director general of Irena.

Among them is a renewable energy road map for 2030.

The document is part of Irena's contribution to Sustainable Energy For All, an initiative launched by the UN secretary general, Ban Ki-moon.

"One of the targets for the Sustainable Energy For All initiative is to achieve a doubling of renewable energy by 2030," said Mr Amin. "We believe that it is possible to do more than that."

Irena will also launch a special report on Africa, a continent where energy demand is set to rise sharply, presenting both an opportunity and a risk.

"Africa faces a choice whether to go the renewable energy route or whether to invest in conventional energy generation," said Mr Amin. "Conventional fossil generation will bind them into one investment for two decades on average."

"We believe that will be a wrong decision and we want to create an environment to assist Africans to make the decision to move in the renewable energy field."

Delegates will have the chance to review a draft of the first Irena annual report, which aims to give neutral strategic advice on the future of renewable energy in terms of developments in investment, innovation and technologies. A fully-fledged report is to be presented next year at the organisation's fourth assembly.

In partnership with the Financial Times, Irena is hosting high-level ministerial discussions on finance strategy and the broader costs and benefits of renewable energy with leading countries in the field such as Germany, Morocco, the UAE, China and Iceland.

"In two years, we have come to a position where we have developed a global recognition that there is a new agency here, that it is functioning well, that its institutional structures and capacity are reliable and that it presents a platform for international co-operation that we have not had in renewable energy up to today," Dr Amin said. – The National


Masdar releases sustainability report

Masdar, Abu Dhabi's renewable energy company, yesterday published its first sustainability report. The report highlights the company's sustainability milestones and provides a benchmark by which to measure future efforts.

Masdar developed the report using the internationally recognised sustainability reporting framework from the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI). In accordance with the latest GRI G3.1 guidelines, Masdar has received an A+ rating - the highest grade possible - for its disclosure of a wide variety of sustainability indicators, ranging from economic and environmental data to labour practices and human rights information.

Highlights of Masdar's sustainability performance include: - 860MW of installed capacity of clean energy added to the global energy mix - 100 percent (111,311 cubic metres) of total wastewater recycled - 9,160 tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent saved using sustainable materials in Masdar City - 226,657 kilometres travelled using alternative sustainable transport "Masdar's sustainability report highlights our achievements in the past year and offers a transparent overview of the organisation's activities to our stakeholders," said Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, CEO of Masdar. "Sustainability is vital to the economic development of the UAE, and this report offers a key benchmark to measure our progress." The data for the report was collected in the reporting period from October 2011 to September 2012 and was externally verified by a third-party auditor. The report measures Masdar's sustainability performance across four key areas: economic, environmental, social and governance.

"We are proud to release a sustainability report that meets international standards of disclosure," said Dr Nawal Al-Hosany, director of sustainability at Masdar. "Across Masdar's operations, from its projects to its supply chain management at Masdar, our performance reflects our commitment to global best practices." Using a holistic, full-value chain business model - integrating higher education, research, investment and commercialisation - Masdar comprises three integrated business units and an independent, graduate-level research university, all dedicated to advancing renewable energy and sustainable technologies.  - Emirates News Agency, WAM


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