Abu Dhabi, 27 February 2023: To mark the UAE Innovation Month, Her Excellency Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) stressed the importance of innovation and modern technologies in enhancing EAD’s efforts to find feasible and sustainable solutions to meet environmental challenges. She added that innovation will be key in mitigating these challenges, as well as to developing strategies and plans to achieve sustainable growth.
Her Excellency said: “Innovation Month every year confirms the interest of our wise leadership in building an innovative and creative society in the UAE. It also contributes to the development of our vision for the future and encourages us to draw inspiration to confront the environmental challenges that we face in light of our limited wealth and natural resources. This year, the Innovation Month coincides with the Year of Sustainability announced by His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Nahyan, President of the UAE, which emphasises the importance of innovation in enhancing the role we play in protecting the environment and natural resources and achieving sustainable development.”
Her Excellency added: “Since our inception, the Agency has been committed to fostering a culture of innovation to enrich environmental protection efforts, and to stimulating the introduction of innovative environmental initiatives that provide successful solutions to environmental challenges. This approach has enabled us to perform our role effectively and efficiently by employing the latest and best technologies, combined with comprehensive research and studies to better understand biodiversity. We also monitor ecosystems, species, and environmental indicators, relying on the latest science, modern technologies, innovative solutions, and technical skills.”
When it comes Artificial Intelligence (AI) EAD works according to a specific methodology, as part of its ambitious goals to use AI technologies across all aspects of its work, to improve the decision-making process, and create smarter and more effective ways of working.
Artificial intelligence provides EAD with wide-ranging opportunities to achieve development goals. For example, global sustainable development data science and analytics are vital tools for environmental monitoring and management. Additionally, through AI, the Agency can produce highly accurate and concise data that can be utilised on a larger scale, to develop relevant policies and projects to better protect and preserve the environment.
The Agency’s AI methodology is also supported by adopting the latest technologies, modernising its infrastructure, and using advanced research tools. Moreover, because EAD possesses a rich archive of environmental data spanning over 25 years, analytics driven by AI can be used to correlate data, identify trends, and extract significantly more value for future and initiatives.
It is noteworthy that EAD's innovation programmes were launched in 1996 with the introduction of the Geographic Information Systems (GIS). Also, in 1998 the Agency began using remote satellite tracking devices to monitor Hawksbill and Green turtles, and in 2000, EAD established the first environmental database in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Similarly, in 2005 EAD used satellite technology to monitor migratory birds and in 2007, the Agency introduced GSM technology to monitor and track the Arabian Oryx in the Um Al-Zumoul Reserve.
The Agency has also launched the Abu Dhabi Pearl Project that today produces between 80,000 and one million oysters annually. In the same year, EAD started operating air quality monitoring networks, which provide an accurate picture of air quality with the ability to compare data and information using top-tier international indicators and standards.
In 2009, the construction of the world's largest strategic water reservoir was completed in Abu Dhabi Emirate using the latest technology, in cooperation with the Agency’s strategic partners.
Eight years ago, EAD, in cooperation with its partners, completed the construction of Abu Dhabi’s first Centre for Biosaline Agriculture to contribute to food security. It also used laser techniques to determine the water needs of Arak trees. This led to a 35 per cent reduction in the amount of water used to irrigate forests in the emirate and has helped grow alternative crops that are more productive and more water-efficient.
In 2016, EAD built the first solar desalination centre in the region in cooperation with its partners, and, a year later, formed the first innovation team for future foresight.
The year 2020 witnessed the launch of several innovation-led initiatives, as EAD’s inaugural methodology for innovation and future foresight was adopted. The achievements include the first environmental observatory in the United Arab Emirates, and the first methodology for environmental accelerators in Abu Dhabi. This in addition to the launch of the updated version of the Innovation Gate’s suggestion system.
In the same year, the Mohammed Bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation selected the ‘Dugong Research Tool’ project, which was created by EAD with its partners – one of the year’s most prominent innovative projects.
The Agency succeeded in 2021, using artificial intelligence techniques, in assessing soil quality, and the Makhzan Al Kheir project was included in the second edition of the Government Innovation Report of the Mohammed bin Rashid Center for Government Innovation.
By working in cooperation with ENGIE, and Distant Imagery to implement the ‘Blue Carbon Project’, EAD aims to grow 1.1 million mangrove seeds using drones to preserve the emirate’s mangroves. This project was selected by Uplink the World Economic Forum's open innovation platform as one of the Top 12 Innovation Solutions for ocean challenges.
In 2022, the EAD also launched the innovative ‘BAADR’ mobile application to promote environmental preservation practices, enaging the community to help achieve a more sustainable future. It is a free, environmentally-friendly application designed to change the environmental behaviours of Abu Dhabi residents and motivate them to be leaders in the process of positive transformation.
Furthermore, EAD has recently launched ‘Eltezam’ – a new digital system for environmental inspection and compliance evaluation. It provides inspectors the flexibility to evaluate facilities and projects based on actual operational activities and operations on site, rather than being limited to activities listed on the environmental license, which allows them to comprehensively monitor any potential environmental harm.