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EAD’s environmental data reporting resolution a win for transparency, experts say

EAD’s environmental data reporting resolution a win for transparency, experts say
12 Apr 2024 08:55

MAYS IBRAHIM (ABU DHABI)

His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), recently issued Resolution No. 1 of 2024 on environmental data reporting. Experts have lauded this resolution as a pivotal step towards greater transparency and accountability in environmental stewardship.

The resolution aims to protect the environment by monitoring pollutants from licensed establishments and projects in Abu Dhabi through mandating the preparation and submission of annual environmental data reports to the EAD, detailing energy and water consumption, alongside pollutant measurements.

Importance of Environmental Data Reporting, Monitoring

Alicia Dauth, a Senior Associate Environmental Consultant and a Chartered Environmentalist, emphasised the significance of environmental data in understanding ecosystem health and mitigating anthropogenic impacts.

She explained that environmental monitoring involves a methodical approach to observe, evaluate, and analyse different aspects of the environment over time. This includes the collection of data on a variety of environmental parameters such as air quality, water quality, soil health, biodiversity, and climate conditions.

  • EAD’s environmental data reporting resolution a win for transparency, experts say

“As an environmental consultant, it is key to assess the impacts of a development during its construction and operation. We rely on environment data from monitoring in the form of field measurements, remote sensing, and data analysis techniques, to understand any changes in the environment during construction or when a site becomes operational,” Dauth said.

“Before any environmental impact assessment begins, a sufficient amount of site-specific baseline environmental data is needed to identify critical or sensitive receptors which may become impacted due to development and what measures can be taken to mitigate impact or harming sensitive receptors,” she added.  

Enhancing Environmental Protection Through Data

Nahla Nabil, a sustainability strategist based in the UAE, highlighted the crucial role of environmental data reporting and monitoring in ensuring clarity and accountability, in addition to providing actionable insights by accurately tracking and managing our impact. She noted that this process holds businesses and projects accountable and empowers policymakers with reliable data for devising effective environmental protections.

  • EAD’s environmental data reporting resolution a win for transparency, experts say

“As underscored by the recent resolution from the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), the emphasis is on ensuring the precision and reliability of this data. From the initial stages of data collection to the final steps of third-party verification, the process is designed to prevent greenwashing, ensuring that any reported environmental progress is both real and substantial to steer us in the right direction,” Nabil said.

She added: “This initiative is a mirror of the current situation; it tells us where we at and it is also a roadmap to the future where it sets the right course. It’s about preemptive action, catching potential crises before they escalate, and fostering a culture of improvement where businesses compete not just on profit but on their environmental stewardship as well”.

By providing decision-makers with valuable insights, Resolution No. 1 of 2024 will enable them to strategically identify environmental challenges and implement effective mitigation strategies, Dauth added.

“For example, businesses and communities will be more informed and will be in the position to prioritise their conservation efforts and select areas for intervention, ultimately leading to enhanced environmental protection,” she noted.

Oriol Teixidó, Middle East Associate Director - Air Quality and Climate Change at Ricardo plc, said: “Gathering accurate data is crucial to improving our environment, protecting our planet, and safeguarding our health. It’s essential to recognise that we can only enhance what we measure”.

Teixidó reiterated the view that reliable information is integral for governments to develop effective policies and strategies. 

Benefits of Standardised
Environmental Reporting
Frameworks

Transparency in the disclosure of environmental monitoring data across sectors is essential for strategic planning on a local and global scale, Dauth said.

She noted that standardised reporting frameworks offer numerous benefits, such as allowing businesses to benchmark environmental performance, fostering accountability and sustainability initiatives, enhancing corporate reputation, and attracting socially responsible investors. They also enable governments to establish clear regulatory standards and monitor compliance more effectively, supporting evidence-based policymaking to address environmental threats efficiently.

Additionally, standardised reporting frameworks provide communities with access to reliable information, enabling advocacy for protective measures and participation in decision-making, ultimately leading to stronger grassroots efforts for conservation and sustainable development, according to Dauth.

“The adoption of standardised environmental reporting frameworks, as highlighted by the resolution issued by EAD, plays a pivotal role in promoting environmental stewardship, fostering collaboration across sectors, and safeguarding the well-being of present and future generations,” she said.

Teixidó views that the main advantage of standardised reporting frameworks lies in streamlining administrative tasks through offering businesses clarity regarding reporting requirements.

“A common and standardised reporting framework provides businesses with clarity on what, when, and to whom they need to report. Many business leaders have emphasised to me that this clarity supports Abu Dhabi’s business growth, known for its fast pace, where decisions, investments, and developments must be executed quickly,” he said.

Another significant benefit is providing businesses with an opportunity to improve their operations while reducing their environmental footprints, according to Teixidó.

“Consumers are increasingly favouring sustainable companies, and investors are scrutinising companies’ environmental practices. EAD’s new framework presents an opportunity for businesses to develop and implement an enhanced internal monitoring and reporting system, following international best practices and aligning with the UAE vision,” he said.

Nabil described standardised frameworks as the “lingua franca” of environmental sustainability, facilitating clear communication and comparison of efforts across the board.

She explained that they streamline compliance for businesses, revealing efficiencies and bolstering reputations, while governments benefit by gaining a potent tool for policy development and enforcement.

“True sustainability needs us to be honest, to admit where we’re going wrong, and to celebrate when we get it right,” Nabil affirmed.

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