The initiative follows the circular economy model aimed at minimising waste through making the most of resources. © Getty Images
The initiative follows the circular economy model aimed at minimising waste through making the most of resources. © Getty Images

UAE signs up to World Economic Forum's 'Scale 360'

United Arab Emirates (UAE) has become the first country to sign up to the World Economic Forum’s 'Scale 360' initiative, committing $1m to the circular economy initiative aimed at reducing pollution.

The announcement was made during the WEF on the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) in Jordan on April 6th-7th. The initiative promotes the use of technologies such as the Internet of Things and artificial intelligence to help develop a circular economy management system.

It aims to minimise waste through using advanced technologies to create a digital resource management system enabling increased efficiency of resources.

The system places importance on ensuring natural resources are used in product development; using technology to identify the materials used, track them, assess their condition; and recycle them to produce other sustainable products, according to the UAE government.

Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE minister of state for artificial intelligence, said: "Artificial Intelligence is a major contributor to the sustainable development efforts and recycling initiatives. We seek to emphasise the need to adopt artificial intelligence in development strategies.”

New technologies being looked at range from digital datasets linked to physical products using a product passport and 'Internet of Materials' as well as blockchain-based schemes, the minister said.

The UAE has also set a target to increase the amount of clean energy in the total energy mix from 25% to 50% by 2050 in order to contribute towards improving the region’s air pollution.

Fifteen years ago renewables were too expensive, but now electricity can be generated more easily than natural gas, according to Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE minister of climate change and environment. 

Investments have been made into increasing energy efficiency, water conservation through humidity transfer and cloud seeding, and solid waste management. The governement aims to invest AED 600 billion ($163.3m) by 2050 to meet the growing energy demand and improve sustainability.

The European Bank for Reconstruction and Development has contributed 60% of its funds towards green projects in the MENA region, the WEF said. These include Egypt's Benban Solar Park, planned to be the world's largest solar installation.

And Dubai plans to complete a AED14.2bn ($3.87bn) Concentrated Solar Power project in the Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park by 2030, according to the UAE government.

Al Zeyoudi said: "We seek to promote Scale 360 to existing and future projections in order to ensure the conservation of resources, greater reliance on clean energy, the application of sustainable development standards, as well as create future opportunities for the youth in the region."

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