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COP28: Sustainable communities at the heart of climate action

Actions are necessary at all levels — government, private sector, as well as individual levels

Over 70,000 delegates are convening at COP28 in Dubai, making this annual climate summit one of the largest since the first COP was held in Berlin in 1995. The first Global Stocktake (GST) at the event will provide a comprehensive assessment of progress since the Paris Agreement, which was adopted in 2015 at COP21, where more than 190 countries agreed to limit global warming to well below 2 degrees Celsius, but preferably to 1.5 degrees.

Developing sustainable cities and fostering communities that are not only aware of climate challenges but also actively participate in efforts toward climate action is one of the best ways to realize a sustainable world, especially in urban settings. Experts discuss about decarbonization and the path to creating net-zero cities.

In line with these efforts, “Green and Sustainable Communities” was also the topic for the recently held COP28 Changemakers Majlis by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment. It focused on innovations and challenges linked to designing, building, and championing greener, more sustainable communities in the UAE.

As part of its efforts toward Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, the UAE has been creating an enabling environment for innovation in different sectors, including the construction sector, where various measures have been taken to reduce emissions associated with it. They include developing sustainable communities and providing eco-friendly housing solutions.

As the global population, which already surpassed eight billion in November last year, continues to rise, with over half of it residing in urban areas and projected to reach 70 per cent by 2050, more efforts and tangible actions are required to keep the impact on the natural environment as low as possible. These actions are necessary at all levels — government, private sector, as well as individual levels. That’s the reason it’s crucial to step up our efforts and also create more awareness of how we can effectively contribute to global climate action and cultivate a sense of responsibility among everyone to do their bit for the survival of our only Earth and reduce the severity of climate change on our communities and societies, both present and future.

As a result, many sustainable communities have been developed over the past years in different emirates, including the Sharjah Sustainable City, which is the first sustainable master-planned community in the emirate of Sharjah, developed in partnership with the Sharjah Investment and Development Authority (Shurooq) and Diamond Developers. The city has transformed from a real-estate project to a sustainable community and is now home to over 230 families from different countries who, including its young residents, have become ambassadors of eco-friendly living. The city meets the highest social, environmental, and economic sustainability standards and integrates these three pillars of sustainability to achieve a working model for future cities. Besides promoting sustainable practices among residents, the city is also supporting start-ups like Green Future Project (GFP) and working with them to achieve our net zero ambitions. Selected as part of the Access Sharjah Challenge (ASC) 2023, GFP was chosen by our city to deliver a comprehensive Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) solution for ESG reporting and sustainable practices, enabling businesses to monitor, reduce, and offset their carbon footprint in real-time. To further amplify how this solution works, GFP has also been given the opportunity to present this platform at COP28.