ABU DHABI, A world-renowned approach that parents use to build resilience in their children can be applied to building resilience in the environment, Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri told the 10th World Urban Forum, WUF 10, on Wednesday.

The 'Seven C's' model developed by American paediatrician Kenneth Ginsburg to help children deal with the stresses of daily life, is used by the Environment Agency Abu Dhabi, EAD, to enhance the resilience of the built environment in the UAE's capital.

Speaking in Abu Dhabi, where the WUF 10 is being held in the Middle East for the first time during a special session 'Enhanced Resilience of the Built Environment and Infrastructure', Shaikha Salem outlined how EAD applies the 'Seven C's' of resilience - Competence, Confidence, Connection, Character, Contribution, Coping and Control.

By using 25 years' worth of data to build competence and confidence in the understanding of the environment, EAD is able to make informed decisions that help to control the impact of a changing environment and increase the ability to cope with these changes, the Secretary-General said.

For example, she added, the EAD will plant up to 14 million mangrove trees in the next two years, having planted 3 million in the last eight years, to assist in controlling storm surges and sequestering carbon. The competence we have built up through knowledge and understanding has provided us with confidence to know what we can and cannot control. This allows us to be far more effective in coping with changes when they occur, she noted.

We cope by planning for sea-level rise, identifying areas at risk and building sea defences, or planning for water shortages by building Strategic Aquifer Reserves that are sufficient to provide 90 days of potable water for the residents of Abu Dhabi in the case of an emergency.

We also have to cope by developing innovative irrigation techniques to make scarce water resources go further by managing to reduce the water used by forestry by 28 per cent per annum and increase agricultural efficiency by 45 percent, she added.

She told the global forum that it is important to foster a strong sense of connection to the environment among the public, as it helps to build a character of moral duty towards the environment - making people less likely to pollute, destroy or damage the environment.

To achieve this, she said, EAD has educated more than two million school children through educational programmes, such as the Enviro Spellathon, while 150 schools are participating in their Sustainable Schools Initiative. Projects, such as the newly-opened Mangrove Walk on Jubail Island, also show how eco-tourism initiatives can encourage people to get out and connect with their local environment, she noted.

Finally, she called on Abu Dhabi residents to understand the personal contribution they can make to protecting the natural environment, citing that between 2014 and 2019, EAD held 35 clean-up events with 27 entities, collecting around 33,000 kg of waste.

Source: Emirates News Agency