Helen Clark visits the United Arab Emirates

06 Nov 2013

image UNDP's Administrator meets with Sheikha Lubna Al-Qasimi, UAE Minister of International Cooperation & Development in Abu Dhabi, UAE. Credit: Noeman AlSayyad

The Administrator of the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP), Helen Clark, just completed a three day visit to the United Arab Emirates (UAE) focused on the country’s work on sustainable development and climate change, development co-operation, and logistical support to facilitate humanitarian efforts.

In Abu Dhabi, Clark met with the Ministers of International Co-operation and Development, the Minister of Culture, Youth, and Community Development, and the Minister of State and head of “Masdar City” Dr. Al Jaber. Masdar is an innovative, large-scale, clean technology cluster, housing research, innovation, company headquarters, and education provision. 

The Minister of International Co-operation and Development, H.E. Sheikha Lubna, outlined her hopes for her new ministry. Helen Clark noted UAE’s commitment, contributions and leadership in humanitarian aid and development. She underlined UNDP’s readiness to work jointly with the UAE in effective aid delivery.

During her meeting with H.E. Sheikh Nahyan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Culture, Youth and Community Development, they discussed UAE’s intention to have a national youth strategy and UNDP’s willingness to be a partner in its development.

After meeting with H.E. Dr. Sultan Al Jaber at Masdar City, Helen Clark toured a number of Masdar’s creatively designed, energy-saving buildings and facilities. Established in 2006, Masdar is actively piloting renewable energy and clean technology solutions in material recycling, construction building, and transportation. A commercially-driven enterprise, Masdar is striving to attract technical talent, investment, and entrepreneurship in the renewable energy and clean technologies sectors.  It is forecast to host 40,000 residents and 50,000 commuters by its completion date of 2025.

In Dubai, H.E. Saeed al Tayer, Vice Chair of the Supreme Council of Energy briefed Helen Clark on Dubai’s progress towards achieving its goal of reducing its carbon emissions by thirty per cent by 2030, in line with Dubai’s integrated energy strategy 2030. The Emirate is striving to reach this goal through retrofitting 30,000 existing buildings; applying international codes of green building in all new construction (achieving about forty per cent energy savings); and employing a range of new energy-saving technologies, including a smart grid with time-use tariffs, and line-loss reduction.

Dubai’s interest in scaling up the use of clean energy is detailed in the “State of Energy Report, Dubai 2014”, produced jointly by the Dubai Supreme Council for Energy and the Dubai Carbon Centre of Excellence (DCCE), and UNDP which was launched on 22 October. DCCE came into being as a direct result of partnership between UNDP and the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy.

“Clean energy is key in our fight against global warming,” stressed Helen Clark. “Innovative solutions which reduce greenhouse gas emissions, like those I saw in UAE lay the foundations for sustainable development.”

In Dubai’s International Humanitarian City (IHC), the Administrator saw the humanitarian supplies destined to meet the needs of refugees and displaced peoples in Syria and elsewhere. The UN’s refugee agency and the World Food Programme have major warehouse facilities there. IHC is one of the world’s largest and busiest logistics hubs for humanitarian aid, with nine UN agencies and nearly fifty NGOs and commercial entities using the facility.

Helen Clark noted the emerging consensus in the international community that in major crises humanitarian aid and development interventions have to go hand-in-hand from the earliest opportunity. “Humanitarian responses enable people to survive, and development responses enable the rebuilding of services, livelihoods, and infrastructure”, said Ms. Clark.

“This twin track approach is what the Regional United Nations Development Group (UNDG) has been discussing in Amman in recent days”, said Sima Bahous, Director of the Regional Bureau for Arab States in UNDP and Cahir of the Regional UNDG, who accompanied the Administrator on her UAE visit. “UNDP has proposed a resilience-based development response to the Syria crisis to complement humanitarian efforts, and the response from other UN agencies and donors has been overwhelmingly positive.”

Helen Clark also met with the UN Country Team and with the staff of UNDP in UAE during her visit.