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During the tree planting ceremony (Photo: WAM)

Minister of Climate Change highlights importance of nurturing environmental tolerance in driving climate action … reports Asian Lite News

During the tree planting ceremony (Photo: WAM)

Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, Minister of Climate Change and Environment, today pointed out that the best way to combat the environmental challenges the world faces today and create a better, more sustainable future for all is through nurturing tolerance and compassion towards the environment.

Dr. Al Zeyoudi stated this at a Ghaf tree planting ceremony at the Royal Botanical Garden in the Spanish capital, Madrid. The ceremony was organised by the UAE Embassy in Spain and the Spanish National Research Council, the entity that manages the botanical garden, on the sidelines of the 25th Conference of the Parties, COP25, to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change that concludes today in Madrid.

The minister said, “The UAE is a beacon of solidarity and peaceful coexistence, with over 200 nationalities living together in harmony. Through such initiatives, we hope to increase public understanding that the value of tolerance is not limited to human interactions and includes in its scope the peaceful coexistence of people and their surrounding environment.”

He added, “The Ghaf tree is the national tree of the UAE. Ghaf trees received special attention from the founding father of the UAE, late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan, who planted thousands of them and issued legislation that made it illegal to cut them down. Selecting the Ghaf tree as the symbol of the Year of Tolerance adds greater momentum to our efforts to convey the message of tolerance towards the environment.”

Summarising the UAE participation at COP25, Majed Hassan Al Suwaidi, UAE Ambassador to Spain, said, “The UAE adopted a can-do approach early on to tackling the most pressing challenges facing the world in its pursuit of ensuring prosperity for all. Climate change certainly tops the list of these challenges, and we are pleased to see that the UAE’s participation in COP25, under the leadership of Dr. Al Zeyoudi, has reinforced the vital message of collective climate action.”

He added, “The UAE presents an integrated, successful model for climate change mitigation and adaptation, and considers climate action a promising opportunity for growth across all sectors. Through their participation in COP25’s main and sideline events, the UAE delegates shared their insights on the key elements for successful climate action and urged members of the international community to expedite efforts to support developing countries and those most vulnerable to adapt to the impacts of climate change.”

The Ambassador said, “The Ghaf tree-planting ceremony was a gesture of goodwill that underlined the UAE’s commitment to safeguarding biodiversity and promoting the value of tolerance, as the tree represents the symbol of the UAE’s Year of Tolerance.”

Furthermore, he participated in a panel entitled “Reaching Net Zero: Learning from International Experiences with Climate Legislation”.

The panel discussion was aimed at increasing awareness of the importance of legislation in delivering energy transition goals and to share successful experiences in designing and implementing climate change laws. The session was jointly organised by ACCIONA, a leader in providing sustainable solutions for infrastructure and renewable energy projects around the world, and the Elcano Royal Institute, a think tank specializing in international and strategic studies conducted from a Spanish, European and global perspective.

Speaking on the UAE’s experience in drafting climate laws and strategies, Dr. Al Zeyoudi said, “The National Climate Change Plan 2050 and the UAE Energy Strategy 2050 guide our approach to reducing greenhouse gas emissions and driving a green, low-carbon economy. Besides, we are currently working on a climate change law that is expected to come into effect in 2020. The law will further increase our climate ambition and resilience by targeting all dimensions of climate action.”

Reaffirming the role of the youth in driving climate action, the minister mentioned two engagements with young people as part of his COP25 outing. The first was delivering a lecture to postgraduate and doctoral students of the Polytechnic University of Madrid, where he provided an overview of the UAE’s integrated approach since its inception of tackling climate change and biodiversity loss. The second youth engagement was meeting with the UAE young delegates to COP25, to reflect on their experience and takeaways from the event.

On the sidelines of COP25, Dr. Al Zeyoudi held multiple bilateral meetings with top officials, including Patricia Espinosa, Executive Secretary of UNFCCC, Zhao Yingmin, Vice Minister of Ecology and Environment of China, and Masagos Zulkifli, Minister for the Environment and Water Resources of Singapore.

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