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Building A Sustainable Tomorrow With Cities Of The Future

Opinion March 4, 2024

While cities play a pivotal role in the global economy by virtue of being home to more than half of the world’s population, adopting and applying the principles of circular economy to urban development is certain to create sustainable cities that can thrive in the long term, bringing prosperity to their inhabitants.

Climate action and urban systems
This simple but powerful approach assumes all the more importance, considering that the window to curb climate change is narrowing, and more aggressive actions are needed to fundamentally change urban systems. An approach that contributes to the global energy transition and fully exploits the links connecting multiple infrastructures, enhances integrated governance and finance and deepens engagement among diverse stakeholders, can therefore maximize the benefits of climate actions.

Those powerful thoughts were in the spotlight at the recently concluded World Governments Summit 2024, where a panel session titled “Building a Sustainable Future Above Cities” shed light on the critical priorities of the sector in the decades ahead.

The World Economic Forum (WEF) has estimated that annual global economic output could reduce by as much as $23 trillion globally as a direct consequence of increased emissions. Therefore, addressing climate change is an urgent collective responsibility shared across the public and private sectors.

Sustainable urban development
But here in the UAE, there are plenty of reasons to be optimistic about a sustainable future for cities.

Dubai, for instance, has approved regulations such as the Green Building and Sustainable Building Standards to ensure that developers adhere to sustainable development practices. Abu Dhabi launched the Estidama Pearl Rating System in 2010, which is used to evaluate sustainable building development practices and minimize water, energy consumption, and waste generation. That’s the reason sustainable projects such as the Masdar City in Abu Dhabi, the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Solar Park in Dubai, and communities such as Sharjah Sustainable City have already made their mark on the national net-zero landscape.

Indeed, as the first Middle East and North Africa (MENA) country to set a target to achieve net-zero emissions, the UAE’s Net Zero by 2050 strategy is a key enabler of its ambitious vision for a sustainable future. With a projected investment of more than US $160 billion announced by the UAE to achieve net-zero by 2050, it significantly boosts the scope for more sustainable developments across the country to further burnish the UAE’s global standing as a future-ready destination for investments.

As the discussions at the World Governments Summit panel demonstrated, the UAE’s efforts to leverage the energy transition and drive collaborations with all industries and government stakeholders to create an ecosystem of sustainability across projects and communities is commendable.

Sustainable cities
Sharjah Sustainable City – a joint venture between the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Diamond Developers – stands out for the incredible opportunities it offers in this regard.

Representing an environmental leap for sustainable habitats in the UAE, the city aspires to achieve net-zero and provides practical solutions related to food security, water and energy management, and conservation of natural resources. It is cultivating an exceptional and sustainable society that embraces the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and inspires a low-carbon future. All villas are designed as smart homes and equipped with energy-efficient kitchen appliances, thermal insulating construction materials, smart home automation, energy-saving electrical fittings, and rooftop solar PV installations, helping residents save up to 50% on utility bills.

Indeed, sustainable cities like Sharjah Sustainable City not only offer a successful pathway to building a sustainable future for cities but also demonstrate a deep understanding of the UAE real estate market, creating future-proof properties with excellent amenities.

Ultimately, while there is a long way to go for a global ecosystem of sustainable cities to flourish and for net-zero to become a commercially viable reality, projects such as the Sharjah Sustainable City clearly show the way in building a sustainable environment for our future generations.