The array of present day emergencies impacting countries across the world have been starkly highlighted by Sheikha Shamma bint Sultan bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Chief Executive Officer for the Alliances for Global Sustainability. Her Excellency was speaking in the course of the final key note address at the Public Policy Forum 2020, when she spoke about the essential role of cities in sustainable development.
“Over billions of years the Earth has been like a battery, slowly charged, storing energy from the sun in plants and fossil fuels. But today, we as human beings are draining that energy much quicker than it can be replenished. Decades of turning a blind eye to urgent issues such as international warming, air pollution, urban sprawl, waste disposing, ozone layer depletion, water pollution and climate change are resulting in unexpected disaster on a scale that we are struggling to rectify. In the last few months alone we have considered two natural disasters and a primary health epidemic sweep throughout three countries that account for almost fifty per cent of the world,” stated by Sheikha Shamma.
“Last summer, we saw almost 80,000 fires throughout the Brazilian Amazon- the highest number than at any point since 2010. The loss of biodiversity, impact on our shared climate and detrimental effect on the health of the countless tribes that call the Rainforest home has been monumental. Devastation has gripped southern Australia with wildfires destroying more than 2,000 homes, killing more than half a billion animals and causing destruction throughout 17.9 million acres of land. To put that into perspective, that’s the size of Belgium and Denmark combined.
Meanwhile the corona virus has infected more than 73,000 people and resulted in close to 1,900 deaths. The pace at which this virus has spread has led to the World Health Organization to declare a health emergency,” she added.
Sheikha Shamma highlighted that cities are key to the changes that the international community wants to make to address these pressing issues, saying that in spite of cities only occupying two percentage of total land, they make contributions to 70 percentage of the international economy, account for over 60 percentage of international energy consumption, are responsible for 70 percentage of greenhouse gas emissions and generate 70 percent of international waste.
“It’s safe to say that the way in which cities are designed and developed can have a huge impact on the state of the world and consequently resilience have to be a priority in constructing a foundation for elevated social, economic and environmental strengths,” stated Sheikha Shamma.
UAE PPF 2020 was the latest edition of the annual forum that was organised by the Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government (MBRSG) in collaboration with the Mohammed bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation (MBRCGI) Its theme this year was ‘Agile Government: Becoming Future-Proof.’