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Arab World Social Innovation Forum From local to global and global to local



The already severe weather and climate in the UAE and the Gulf region, high temperatures and low rainfall, is set to worsen due to rapid economic and population growth, high levels of urbanization and the availability of abundant and cheap fossil fuels. These factors combine to exert enormous stress on essential resources such as water and the diverse forms of nature that human survival is dependent upon; deserts are expanding, arable land is in retreat and water supplies become increasingly depleted. Over-reliance on the vast reserves of fossil fuels, oil and natural gas, is another issue for serious thought, both economically and environmentally. Fossil fuels are a finite resource, meaning they will one day be completely exhausted and as such the UAE needs to diversify its economy to cope with this inevitability. The environmental aspect of fossil fuel use is concerned with the pollution they cause, primarily in the form of greenhouse gas emissions that exacerbate climate change which acts as a multiplier for all other environmental problems.

UAE has

84% of the UAE population 2.3%

– UAE population is estimated to be about . since 2005 and since 1975.





CHALLENGES WATER By 2025, water demand is expected to increase by

50% in the Arab world.

Per capita availability of water in the Arab world is expected to UAE has the

half by 2050

highest per capita consumption of water in the world.

UNDP has expressed grave concern over the potential for a severe water crisis in the UAE in the near future. Desalination: the primary method of generating enough water to meet growing demand – requires huge amounts of energy (taking away export revenue and adding to climate change)


Causes: it is a man-made problem. It is caused by urbanization, industrialization, inappropriate and intensive agricultural techniques, overgrazing and unregulated use of soil. A report from the UNEP in 2007 states that of the that is degraded,

79% of land in the Arab world

98% of it is caused by human activity.


84% of UAE population is urbanized, and the percentage is rising. The causes of urbanization range from high fertility rates to rural-urban migration and the concentration of economic activity in urban areas. There are environmental problems associated with urbanization, such as strained resources, waste disposal (each day in the UAE,1.5 kg of solid waste is produced per capita), sanitation and hygiene, transportation and it’s associated pollution.

BIODIVERSITY Biodiversity refers to the variety of life on earth. It is essential as it maintains the sustainability of soils and provides the necessary conditions for the continued availability of crops, livestock and marine species humans use as sources of food. It is caused by the overuse of The Gulf sea area is considered to be a particularly high risk area, mainly due to the many offshore oil and gas installations, tanker loading terminals and the high volume and density of marine transportation of oil. 2008 AFED Report: every year in the Gulf sea, an estimated

200 million barrels of oil

are spilled, causing enormous damage

POLLUTION AND CLIMATE CHANGE WWF: UAE has one of the highest ecological footprints in the world. The UAE is the

5th highest consumer of energy per capita in the world.

In the UAE, 1,155 sq. km. would be damaged if sea levels rose by 100 cm. Even if sea levels cant impact on the infrastructure, marine life, wildlife, health, business and the economy of the UAE. Pollution from the burning of fossil fuels, in the form of increased carbon and greenhouse increase, rainfall will decrease and sea-levels will rise globally causing major problems for the UAE. ENERGY Abu Dhabi and Water and Electricity Company (ADWEC): peak power demand of energy in the UAE is expected to increase by

12.5% annually to 2020.

There is a huge problem of energy inefficiency and waste in the UAE. Low, subsidized prices mean there is no incentive for consumers to limit their energy use.

OPPORTUNITIES What are the advantages and issues of such high importance?

in tackling these challenges? Why is addressing these

The UAE will enjoy a better international reputation More fossil fuels will be available to export; maximizing revenues of the remaining reserves of oil and natural gas The UAE will be better prepared for the eventual post-oil era – the energy infrastructure will be ready and costly adjustments can be avoided with incremental transformation now rather than much mor changes later The UAE will be in the position of industry, particularly for solar energy.

over in the renewable

The UAE will be a key global actor in the energy of the future, and as such a truly important player in the future global economy A cleaner environment will reduce expenditure – in the Arab world, the cost of environmental degradation is estimated to be equivalent to

5% of GDP, mainly accounted for by costs to treat health problems as a result of polluted air, low quality water and inadequate hygiene.

Halting land degradation and deser will improve agricultural productivity, allowing greater economic growth for the agricultural industry but also reducing the need to buy imported foodstuffs and improving the health of the nation Ensuring coastal areas are maintained and not adversely effected by climate change will attract more tourists and keep the tourism industry booming. As such, making the most of these oppor nities will be to the UAE. We think the best way to solve these problems is through the solutions implemented by

local social innovators and this is

why Ashoka aims to leverage the great work they do.

LOCAL SOCIAL INNOVATORS The following are examples of local social innovators in the field of energy efficiency and environment: RUKHSANA KAUSAR After studying law from the University of Manchester and working in business development and Liquid of Life sustainable and cost effective solutions to meet the implemented and installed technology that generates drinking water from the air an alternative and sustainable source of drinking water.

MARWAN CHAAR After 5 years of working in different Chaar lauched a company called FuGu Energy. sustainable energy development in the

reduction in existing facilities. His past experiences include Washington-

ASHOKA GLOBAL FELLOWS Here are examples of our Global Fellows who have tackled similar issues and can help local social innovators scale up their work through access to networks, sharing of ideas, sharing of expertise, lessons learned and legal advice, based on the needs ot the social innovators. These local social innovators can then become role models for future generations of social entrepreneurs and innovators, disseminating the powerful idea of social entrepreneurship throughout the UAE. JOSE ARTUR DE BARROS PADILHA In northeastern Brazil, Jose Artur Padilha is developing new methods of soil and water management, energy use and agricultural production that protect increased economic returns. He is testing his techniques on a farm in Pernambuco and applying them in demonstration projects in other parts of the region. MATHIAS CRAIG Mathias Craig has developed a community-based clean energy model that relies on the local manufacture and maintenance of a hybrid wind/solar energy system along the impoverished Caribbean coast of Nicaragua. His organization, blueEnergy, uses a model that emphasizes the long-term accompaniment of rural communities. ZAHER REDWAN Zaher Redwan has launched a nation-wide, non ening of Lebanon's bio-diversity. Through income generating schemes and interactive education initiatives that bring citizens face-to-face with the country’s vast environmental wealth, Zaher is nurturing a cultural and ecological understanding of the environment to underpin new national policy. His initiative, Green Hand, is empowering Lebanon’s youth to become engaged with issues concerning environmental awareness.

CONTACT: Ashoka Arab World Regional 93 Abdel Aziz Al Saud 7th Floor Apt #1 El Manial, Cairo 11451, Egypt Email:

Energy and environment booklet  
Energy and environment booklet