Now is the time to take action for the planet

When driverless cars and automated homes become the norm, will you be part of the growing trend to save our planet?

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Aside from the growing amount of evidence that climate change is real, various sectors are making innovative changes that promote sustainability, from electric vehicles and smart homes to entire smart cities.

Driving the discussion surrounding sustainable solutions, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) is hosted annually by Masdar. Returning from 13th to 20th January, this year’s event welcomes global leaders, policy makers and experts from around the world to discuss and address the energy and sustainability challenges of the future.

“ADSW provides a unique opportunity to hear from global leaders and network with policy makers, thought leaders, decision makers, experts, scientists, business leaders and academics – to discuss, debate and ultimately address the energy and sustainability challenges of the future,” explains Yousef Baselaib, executive director for sustainable real estate at Masdar.

“One of the world’s largest sustainability gatherings, ADSW is dedicated to furthering our understanding of the major social, economic and environmental trends shaping the world’s sustainable development to empower the global community to realise viable and effective strategies to mitigate climate change. In 2018, ADSW honours the legacy of the UAE’s founding father, Sheikh Zayed Al Nahyan.”

Anchored by the World Future Energy Summit, the 2018 program features a series of free events, conferences and exhibitions, including The International Water Summit, The Zayed Future Energy Prize Award Ceremony, The International Renewable Energy Agency meeting and Ecowaste. This year’s theme is Driving the Global Energy Transformation, which addresses three core issues: climate change and resource scarcity, sustainable cities and urbanisation, and technology disruption and digitisation.

“I personally think the Mobility Forum and the Technology for Smart City Transport report launch will be the highlights of the conference,” Yousef tells us. “A major global shift is underway that will transform the way we travel, especially in towns and cities, making it easier, faster and safer.

“ADSW is bringing together thousands of industry and thought leaders from around the world to discuss the future of mobility, demonstrate new technologies and explore how the shift in mobility will impact our society.

“Electric vehicles are among next generation mobility solutions that are expected to see rapid growth – from around two million today to as many as 160 million by 2030. However, the shift to truly integrated mobility systems will not be easy for cities to manage, and will demand a new approach to policies and regulations.”

Yousef continues, “Discussions around cities pushing the envelope for sustainable design that reduces the consumption of energy and water will take place. For example, the 500-unit residential project that has been completed in Masdar City achieves 60 percent reduction in total energy consumption compared to the industry baseline, uses 40 percent less potable water and recycles more than 85 percent of its construction waste. These are the types of conversations that are in the schedule at ADSW.”

Family festival

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While policy makers lead the charge for these types of initiatives, community involvement is essential to their success. The Festival @ Masdar City, hosted on 19th and 20th January, is the part of ADSW that invites the public to learn more about the importance of sustainability and recycling. Children and adults alike can learn about sustainability through fun activities at different zones.

The newly reopened Masdar Park will be transformed into a futuristic, tech-friendly zone with the chance to experience things like Formula 1 racing games and a planetarium. Arcade Alley hosts five different educational sustainability games while the Innovation Hub is where participants can attend workshops like Gadgetville, where they can build a robotic hand. There’s also a greenhouse on site that teaches children how to plant seeds and grow gardens using recycled materials. The event rounds out with a souk and bazaar featuring everything from organic soaps and handmade jewellery to Arabic grills and fresh smoothies.

“Youth engagement has always been at the heart of ADSW, with platforms such as the Student Exclusive and The Festival @ Masdar City. The annual awards ceremony of the Zayed Future Energy Prize conducted by ADSW also recognises outstanding high schools among its categories.

“This year’s event will have a heavy focus on youth to mark the Year of Zayed and the legacy of the UAE’s founder in youth empowerment. However, the youth agenda will be carried forward by future editions of ADSW.”

The Festival @ Masdar City is free and open to the public. Fri 10am-10pm, Sat 10am-8pm. To find out more about ADSW and The Festival @ Masdar City, visit: abudhabisustainabilityweek.com

WORDS Tamara Clarke

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