The world’s population was last living sustainably in 1970 when it totalled 3.7 billion – now there are more than seven billion inhabitants of the planet and the resources being consumed are the equivalent of 1.5 Earths.
That was the stark fact which Abu Dhabi Environment Agency executive director Ahmed Abdulmuttaleb Baharoon used to illustrate the need for sustainability to be at the forefront of the design and build industry.
He was speaking at an event held to commemorate the 350th anniversary of construction materials company Saint-Gobain, held at the Rotana Hotel, Yas Island, Abu Dhabi and revealed that the emirate will host the Eco City Award Summit this year from October 11-13.
“Half the world’s population live in cities and cities account for between 60 and 80% of the world’s energy consumption while giving out 75% of the carbon dioxide gases emitted globally,” Baharoon said.
“Cities need to be liveable, people should have access to open spaces, nature, culture and heritage.
“By 2030 60% of all urban dwellers will be under the age of 18 – so we have to provide the right environment for young people. Cities need to grow, evolve and adapt.”
Key areas which need to be urgently addressed are water supply, energy provision and the environmental impact of construction, Baharoon said as he gave the keynote address to the assembly.
“In the UAE economic growth is being managed in a sustainable way,” he said. “Natural sites along the coast which are valuable wildlife habitats and provide protection against rising waters need to be protected.
“Sustainability in transport is another key area – Abu Dhabi has developed a network of cycle paths to challenge our car dominated culture.”
Baharoon emphasised the best practice established by Masdar where ancient Arabic techniques and modern technology have combined to create an award winning eco-city.
“People the heart of our cities beat and it is imperative that we give them a voice as to how we create our future cities.”