Dubai Sharpens Initiatives On Creating A Digital And Circular Economy

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Dubai Economy is strengthening its initiative launched earlier this year to bring together key industry sectors and stakeholders in an all-encompassing journey towards transitioning Dubai into a circular economy in line with the vision of the leadership and strategic plans of the government.

The move has gained fresh momentum with Sheikh Hamdan bin Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Executive Council of Dubai, recently approving the 2021 Agenda of the Council, which has ‘Creating a Digital and Circular Economy’ among its key objectives.

The 2021 agenda of The Executive Council of Dubai aims to promote excellence in all sectors and introduce innovative initiatives to enhance government services and further raise Dubai’s competitiveness. The circular economy plan of Dubai Economy not only seeks to contribute towards the Agenda but also position Dubai towards sustainable progress and prosperity over the next 50 years as envisioned by the leadership.

Sami Al Qamzi, director general of Dubai Economy, said: “Like in the past, Covid-19 too has become an opportunity for Dubai to learn from adversity and turn it into an opportunity. The pandemic added new momentum to the digital transformation in the emirate and has given us enough examples of the most prudent use of existing assets and resources. Dubai Economy is pleased to have pioneered a circular economy campaign to optimise resources and minimise waste, in line with our focus on sustainable economic development in the emirate. We are now moving to the next level, engaging with key industry sectors to build on existing opportunities to expedite the circular economy transition.”

Unlike the traditional linear economy, circular economy focuses on improving resource efficiencies and reducing/eliminating waste to the highest extent by depending on re-use, sharing, repair, regeneration, re-manufacturing, and recycling. The global market potential for a circular economy is over $1 trillion. Dubai is best positioned to be an exemplary circular economy given its increasing adoption of advanced technologies in resource management.

As a first step, Dubai Economy launched a series of workshops (hacks) in 2019 on the circular economy transition and related challenges as well as opportunities. The hacks were organised within the framework of the Future Economy Lab of Dubai Economy, launched to encourage partnerships between the public as well as private sectors and the academia in foreseeing challenges resulting from global trends and changes and proposing appropriate solutions.

The introductory hack brought together 50 key stakeholders, including sustainability enthusiasts, regulators, corporates, start-ups, and NGOs, to propose solutions that would accelerate the transition, particularly across six key dimensions – market readiness, innovation, funding & capital, skills development, regulatory readiness, and an adaptive mindset.

With the global outbreak of Covid-19 underlining the importance of food security and local manufacturing, Dubai Economy brought the manufacturing, real estate, and food & agri-business sectors into the center stage of the circular economy campaign and hack series.

Mohammed Shael Al Saadi, CEO of Corporate Strategic Affairs at Dubai Economy, underlined the importance of translating the vision and strategic plans of the UAE and its emirates, including the UAE Vision 2021 Abu Dhabi Economic Vision 2030, Dubai Industrial Strategy 2030, and the Future Foresight programme, into opportunities for innovations in optimal resource utilisation and energy consumption.

“I am delighted that the hacks generated a high level of participation from the circular economy stakeholder community. The energy and intellectual output were very high. I believe that Dubai has a great opportunity to invest and benefit from all the efforts of stakeholders to implement initiatives that will propel us to the next level of economic growth based on the circular economy model,” Al Saadi added.

The first sector-focused hack on manufacturing had its emphasis on localising global supply chains and attracting investments, particularly into sustainable manufacturing and positioning Dubai as a circular economy for innovation-driven industries and halal products.

The second hack evaluated global and local trends in the real estate & construction sector as well as the advantages Dubai has in evolving into a modern, sustainable city in the backdrop of the long-term changes being set off by urbanisation and industrialisation. The opportunities of the circular economy on the future design of buildings, better resource & waste management, and environmentally-friendly real estate design & architecture were also discussed.

Disruptive technologies and innovations in food production, processing, and consumption to achieve sustainable food security, particularly in the backdrop of the growing concerns on food production outpacing demand climate change and rapid urbanization were highlighted in the third hack of the series. A major focus of the hack was on the potential impact of circular economy in the areas of minimising food waste, recycling food waste and food packaging.

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