You do not need a course on environmental studies to make the assumption that Dubai has the one of the highest ecological footprint globally. The entire city is man-made. There is human-centric approach to Dubai that no other country can match. Before Dubai was the way it is right now, the city was practically a desert. And it still is underneath expansive malls, the tallest sky scrapers and the air conditioned bus stops.

According to a report released by World Wide Fund in 2012, UAE ranks third place in terms of its ecological footprint. The ecological footprint of UAE is 8.4 gha which is third to Qatar and Kuwait at more than 11.5 and 9.5 gha respectively. This means that UAE is the third leading country to cause global warming and the climate change occurring around the world. The average ecological footprint globally is 2.7 global hectares which suggests that UAE is way above the average.  The world’s total bio-capacity is 1.8 global hectares. This means that the world is already consuming 0.9 global hectares more than it is producing. When we zoom into UAE, the situation becomes more serious. UAE produces only 0.6 gha of bio-capacity per person according to the WWF Report of 2012 but it is using 8.4 gha.  The rest is imported from countries around the world to meet the current standards of living.

UAE's Ecological Footprint

A step in the right direction…

However, the situation is not as bleak as it sounds. There is a silver lining in the clouds if we compare the figures with those of 2006. In 2006, UAE ranked as the country with the highest ecological footprint. UAE’s ecological footprint was 11.68 gha. Since 2006, the government of UAE took notice of this issue and realized it needed to take affirmative actions. The government collaborated with WWF to reduce its ecological footprint. UAE was the third country to take this step after Switzerland and Japan.  UAE has been able to achieve this through a number of initiatives. These include:

  • Increasing the use of renewable energy;
  • Installing energy efficient electricity and water meters in residential home to ensure responsible use of energy;
  • Developing green codes for future construction projects;
  • Launching the Heroes of UAE campaign (directed to UAE Residents and corporate companies to consume energy more responsibly).

For more information, read this.

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How kids can bring down UAE’s ecological footrpint?

While this is all good, I believe that UAE’s infrastructure makes it very hard to control its ecological footprint. The entire lifestyle in UAE is anti-green. But since it is our children, who would be the most affected by these statistics, I believe we should start young and teach our kids how to bring down the ecological footrpint:

Turn off the tap

UAE's ecological footprint

Every time, Azlan goes to the bathroom, I have to yell, ‘Turn off the tap’. If I don’t do that, the water keeps running and we might have a mini-tsnuami at our place everyday. Kids don’t realize that water is a precious resource and they probably never will in the coming years, if we don’t tell them. Early years are the time to develop good habits in our children and one of them is to tell them to stop wasting water. Close the tap when they are brushing teeth or when they are trying to make bubbles from soapy water.

Recycle

From free coloring books to brochures, moms in Dubai thr
ow away a lot of paper ever day. I remember my mom used to collect all the old newspapers and used school books to sell them off to the recycling man who came every month on his bicycle. But in a city like Dubai, this feels too antiquated. However, there is a similar option. You can put all the used paper into big bins at the basement of nearly all Dubai apartments. You can even recycle metal and plastics and giveaway used clothes to the needy. Recently, I have been collecting used paper to be later thrown away into these recycling bins. Now, Azlan has caught up and puts away all his used paper in the same box. When the box is full, I plan on taking Azlan with me to throw away the paper and learn a lesson on recycling.

Sleep early

 

Kids need to be in bed early in order to be more active, healthy and to set the stage of better learning. But another reason to sleep early is to save the environment. When you save early, we save environmental costs that would otherwise be spent on lights, electronic devices etc. Make use of the daylight and this will also boost up Vitamin D levels in your child.

Plant a Tree

UAE's ecological footprint

Though, I have not started this myself but am planning to do so in the coming months. I have never had a green thumb but am looking for something simple that does not require a lot of maintenance. An indoor plant or even a small outdoor tree would be great. Planting and caring for trees also teaches a child responsibility.

Set a good example

I have always believed that children are our best imitators. They may not listen to what we say but they do listen to what we do. So, we need to set a good example:

  • Repair and mend things around the house instead of throwing them out;
  • Take a cloth bag while doing your shopping;
  • Reuse the plastic bags that you do have;
  • Turn of extra lights and ask your child to do that too;
  • Close all electricity consuming devices when leaving your home (including the wi-fi device).

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Rethinking UAE’s Ecological Footprint

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