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Sat 23 Feb 2019 03:50 AM

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Abu Dhabi takes centre stage in battle for blue economy

The World Ocean Summit will convene in Abu Dhabi next month, marking the first time the international conference comes to the Middle East

Abu Dhabi takes centre stage in battle for blue economy
The conservation of the marine ecosystem remains a key priority for the UAE in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021.

The sixth edition of the World Ocean Summit will convene in Abu Dhabi next month, marking the first time the international conference comes to the Middle East.

The summit will provide a forum for a global gathering of over 500 delegates - including heads of state, political leaders, policymakers, corporate heads and academics from more than 26 countries – to share dialogue on how best to innovate, govern and promote a sustainable blue economy.

It will also explore new ways to mitigate the adverse impacts of human pressures on ocean health.

Hosted by the Abu Dhabi Government and supported by the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) and the Abu Dhabi Department of Economic Development (DED), the World Ocean Summit will be held at the St Regis Saadiyat Island Resort from March 5-7.

The World Ocean Summit will also be part of a series of activities celebrating the UAE’s rich seafaring traditions during the inaugural Abu Dhabi Blue Week running from March 3-7, which is set to feature a Heritage Village, a Dhow Show, a Beach Marathon, a Youth Circle discussion focusing on the importance of eco-tourism and a Blue Technology Exhibition by participating government entities, along Saadiyat Beach.

The conservation of the marine ecosystem remains a key priority for the UAE in line with Abu Dhabi Vision 2030 and UAE Vision 2021.

With around 760km of coastline, Abu Dhabi is home to the world’s largest population of the Indian Ocean Humpback Dolphins and the second largest number of dugongs, among other marine species including sea turtles, sharks, and corals.

An integrated marine management framework to promote the sustainable development of the ocean is critical for a region such as the Middle East, which has some of the warmest waters on the planet. 

“It is a very proud occasion for Abu Dhabi to be hosting the prestigious World Ocean Summit in the Middle East for the time in its history,” said Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, acting secretary general of EAD. “It will provide an important platform not only for us to engage and build international collaborations, but also showcase and share best practice and marine research from the region that is crucial in shaping the global priorities for oceans moving forward,” she added.

The summit comes as global ocean health is in decline, threatening the food, economic and climate security of communities around the world. Climate change, marine pollution, unregulated fishing, and the loss of habitats and biodiversity are all adding to the strain on sea life, placing a necessary imperative for effectively and sustainably managing the impacts of urbanisation and industrialisation on our oceans.

Rashed Al Blooshi, Acting Undersecretary of the Department of Economic Development Abu Dhabi, said: “There remains much to be done to innovate and finance a sustainable blue economy. The World Ocean Summit presents a key platform to build bridges across regions for greater collaboration, presenting new ideas and perspectives on the future of our seas, and the development of sustainable blue economies.”

The World Ocean Summit is the centrepiece of The Economist Group’s World Ocean Initiative and its overarching theme is Building Bridges, which aims to foster further collaboration between the public and private sectors to find solutions and catalyse meaningful progress towards a sustainable blue economy.