Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015 drives the trends and innovations in renewable energy

Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015 (ADSW 2015), which concluded on 24 January, 2015 in Abu Dhabi, registered unprecedented success, becoming one of the biggest and most important global events in the renewable energy sector. The event convened countries of the world to discuss the future of energy, energy security, sustainable development and the development of innovative solutions for global energy challenges. In offering an engaging and diversified agenda to more than 30,000 participants and visitors from 170 countries, ADSW achieved its objective of consolidating the UAE’s status as a global hub in renewable energy.

The event was well-attended by key leaders and experts in the renewable energy sector, including senior officials from the United Nations and other leading international organizations involved in environment, climate change and renewable energy issues. The conference program engaged senior executives and key leaders – from business, research and development, academia to media – in serious discussions around the issues of global energy.

In addition to examining the importance of renewable energy from divergent perspectives such as policy development, financing, technology and education, the discussions also focused on the need to promote sustainable development in the renewable energy sector while identifying lasting solutions to address the challenges of energy and water security.
Among other topics discussed by ADSW were water scarcity, waste management, innovative financing, technology and their impact on the lives of people, and sustainable development.

‘Innovation’ was the key focus of the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2015 in a bid to explore best ways, ideas and new technologies that support sustainable development. Annually held, ADSW provides critical support to the UAE’s National Innovation Strategy through encouraging technology development and attracting investment to priority sectors such as renewable energy, transportation, water and education.

Eighth World Future Energy Summit
The opening of the 8th World Future Energy Summit was attended by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, and His Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the UAE Armed Forces. His Excellency Abdel Fattah el-Sisi, President of Egypt, delivered the keynote speech. Commenting the UAE government, as well as Masdar, for their exceptional efforts in hosting the annual summit, el-Sisi said: “ADSW articulates the pioneering role of the UAE in promoting renewable energy and sustainable development on a global level.”

el-Sisi stressed that the deep historical relations between the United Arab Emirates and Egypt were long established by the UAE’s founding father Sheikh Zayed Bin Sultan Al Nahyan, and were further boosted by the historical stand of the UAE government and its people in support of Egyptians’ aspirations.

He added: “This important international gathering is convened today to discuss the key challenges that are impacting the energy, water and sustainable development landscapes. It also seeks to create an important opportunity for dialogue, discussion and the exchange of views and expertise among various parties towards finding innovative solutions for the challenges facing the world today.”

“The global energy consumption rates have doubled over the past four decades, with demand predicted to double by 2050. In addition, an estimated 1.3 billion people in the world live without electricity, half of them in Africa, which necessitates concerted efforts to remove obstacles that hinder future progress of Africa,” el-Sisi added.
His Excellency Dr Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar, delivered a welcome speech in which he thanked the wise leadership of the UAE for the continued guidance and support towards strengthening the leading position of the country in the energy sector.

Al Jaber added: “Renewable energy is a critical component for building a sustainable future and has today graduated from an expensive alternative to a competitive technology of choice.” “We have seen growth in the sector as a result of the sharp decline in costs and the steady rise in technology efficiency. In fact, renewable energy remains the fastest growing source of energy, propelling investments to grow 16 per cent in 2014 and reaching more than US$310 billion. This growth is a result of the commercial opportunity of renewable energy, coupled with the world’s growing demand for electricity.”

“This is a historic year for the UAE. As the country embarks on its ‘Year of Innovation’, the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week will help attract investment and cultivate partnership in order to accelerate technologies that can benefit our country,” Al Jaber added.

In his keynote speech, Dr. Ahmad Belhoul, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar stressed on the need to accelerate the adoption of renewable energy as a commercially viable technology in order to meet the world’s rising demand for electricity.
He said: “Like any technology, clean energy has optimised its performance and reduced its cost over time. And, in various parts of the world, renewable energy is out-competing traditional power.”

“With surging populations, coupled with finite resources, we must pursue all forms of energy, conventional, unconventional and alternative. This requires that we re-think the relationship between traditional and new forms of power, and that energy must not only coexist, but work in harmony,” Belhoul added.

International Water Summit
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week also included the International Water Summit (IWS) which aimed to develop solutions for water security issues, rationalize the growing demand for the vital resource in the Middle East and promote sustainable economic development in arid regions through the sustainable management of water resources.

During its four-day run, IWS provided an ideal platform to convene leaders of both government and business organisations, as well as key policy makers, investors from the public and private sectors, consultants and water to discuss ways and viable solutions for the conservation of water resources in the GCC and other regions.

The summit included a series of panel sessions, including a dedication conversation on food security in the Arab countries. Other sessions focused on sustainability issues, water-energy-food nexus to increase farm production in arid areas, water resource management in Abu Dhabi, and ways to sustain the marine and coastal environment in the Arabian Gulf.

The event was convened on the backdrop of a report from the United Nations Development Program, which indicates that Arab countries may need to invest at least US$200 billion in water-related infrastructure over the next ten years.

Titled ‘Water Governance in the Arab Region’, the United Nations Development Programme report argues that the population of the Arab countries, estimated at 360 million now, is projected to increase to 634 million by 2050, while the gap between water supply and demand, estimated at more than 43 cubic kilometers a year, is expected to reach 127 cubic kilometers a year by 2020–2030.

EcoWASTE Exhibition
Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week also included EcoWASTE, a key platform dedicated to showcasing next generation waste management and recycling solutions.

The exhibition contributed to providing innovative solutions to accelerate the deployment of clean technology for future generations including solar photovoltaic energy panels that are well suited to the desert environment in the Middle East.

Meeting of GCC Municipalities
EcoWASTE also included a meeting of various GCC Municipalities. During the meeting, the Tadweer team outlined the history of the center, its activities, projects, and achievements. It also gave the attendees a sneak peek into Tadweer’s Waste Management Master Plan for the next 25 years, which outlines its priorities in integrated waste management, integrated pest control management, as well as production and joint marketing of recycled products throughout the GCC.

Footfall at ADSW 2015
The number of companies that participated in World Future Energy Summit totaled 650, whereas the International Water Summit witnessed the participation of 150 companies. Meanwhile, EcoWaste attracted 50 local and international companies along with 2,000 buyers and specialists from the waste management and recycling sectors. In all, ADSW gathered more than 30,000 attendees, 800 exhibiting companies from 40 countries.

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