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MOCCAE’s Environmental Geospatial Platform: Harnessing reliable data and embracing sustainability

MOCCAE’s Environmental Geospatial Platform: Harnessing reliable data and embracing sustainability
16 Apr 2024 08:24

SAEED AHMED (ABU DHABI)

The Environmental Geospatial Platform, launched by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), is instrumental in supporting the achievements of the UAE’s environmental strategies and Sustainable Development Goals.

A reliable source of environmental spatial data in the UAE, the platform includes eight interactive geographic applications, featuring a raft of open data in various fields.

The platform boasts a dynamic interactive system that helps individuals and institutions access the necessary classifications and analyses, and obtain data that supports the agricultural and environmental development process in the country.

Environmental Compliance

The MOCCAE’s environmental compliance team is working to achieve the Sustainable Development Goals, protect the environment, and ensure the required balance between development and the environment through monitoring environmental facilities, applying widely accepted methods, and ensuring sustainable and environmentally safe economic development and human health.

The Ministry conducts inspections on facilities with activities that impact the environment such as cement factories, quarries, crushers, as well as agricultural, veterinary, and fishery facilities, in order for issuing or renewing environmental compliance certificates, in addition to assessing, monitoring, and managing relevant complaints related to the enforcement of environmental legislation.

Waste and Chemicals

Waste and chemical management pose significant challenges to the country due to their impact on the environment and human health. With rising populations and economic growth, waste generation and chemical handling are increasing, making these issues a top priority for the nation.

The Ministry is spearheading efforts to address these challenges by  fostering public-private partnerships and transforming waste from an environmental burden to an economic resource. It is focusing on developing the recycling industry and converting waste into energy.

Furthermore, the Ministry seeks to regulate the trading and use of chemicals through the national strategy for integrated chemical management.

The Ministry also oversees pesticide control in the country through a comprehensive national system for monitoring the trade and use of pesticides, detecting residues in agricultural products and food items, and issuing regulations for the registration, import, and trade of pesticides.

Marine Environment

Recognising the immense economic, social, and environmental significance of its marine and coastal environment, the MOCCAE is devoting special attention  to safeguarding these vital ecosystems.

As the majority of the population, economic, social, and biological diversity activities are concentrated in these areas, the Ministry is implementing strategies to protect marine areas, enhance biodiversity and preserve fishery resources.

Biodiversity

The UAE possesses unique environmental systems and biodiversity, encompassing a variety of plant and animal species, both terrestrial and aquatic. The country has placed significant emphasis on conserving this biodiversity. Both the National Biodiversity Strategy and the Action Plan adopted by the country in 2017 are based on the objectives of the Aichi Biodiversity Targets, adopted at the Biodiversity Conference.

These objectives support efforts to preserve biodiversity in the coming decades and contribute to achieving Sustainable Development Goals, particularly Goals 14 and 15.

Among the many efforts undertaken by the ministry is the provision of a spatial data archive, facilitating access to and acquisition of all spatial data related to ecosystems.

Spatial data is a fundamental cornerstone in implementing strategic plans, conserving, and developing ecosystems. Moreover, these data support various federal, local, and academic institutions’ efforts, particularly those related to Sustainable Development Goals indicators, due to the unique characteristics of this type of data in simulating reality, analytical capabilities, and decision-making.

Agritourism

The UAE boasts a flourishing agricultural area with various plant and animal species. The Ministry has developed the UAE Agritourism Program by selecting a group of farms that offer a unique tourist experience. These farms open their doors to educate visitors and provide nature enthusiasts with the opportunity to explore traditional and modern agricultural practices, as well as learn about the technologies used.

Additionally, visitors can enjoy recreational activities available at many plant and animal farms in the country and purchase farm products directly from the source at reasonable costs and high quality.  Agritourism aims to enhance the country’s position on the global ecotourism map, outline key environmental and agricultural landmarks, facilitate their protection, and ensure their sustainability through an integrated legislative and legal framework, supported by initiatives and programmes aimed at their support and development, and encourage the public to adopt community agriculture behaviours.

Ecotourism

The UAE embraces the concept of ecotourism for its leading role in environmental conservation by adopting a legislative framework that promotes the sustainability of natural resources and protects biological diversity. It also promotes the transition to a green economy, reduces desertification and pollution rates, and enhances the country’s sustainable domestic product.  Moreover, it aims to connect the public with nature.

MOCCAE has shown great interest in ecotourism in recent years, launching a national project aimed at promoting ecotourism in the UAE under the name “Nature Treasures in the UAE”.

Biological Security

The Ministry of Climate Change and Environment has initiated projects and initiatives to collect data and study the risks to human, animal, plant, and environmental health, assess the current situation, support decision-making related to biological security in the country, and ensure public health and safety.  Among the ministry’s efforts in this regard is the launch of an early reporting system for biological security, which serves as an electronic platform and innovative tool for reporting animal diseases, agricultural pests, food safety issues, and legislative violations in the country, with the aim of delivering data to authorised individuals and decision-makers at the national level.

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