What is the current state of climate and energy policies in the Arab countries? What countries and which initiatives are leading the way? Who are the key drivers for climate protection? What are options for Arab-German cooperation and how can countries in the region benefit from Germany's experiences? These and other issues were explored by 25 journalists and experts at a German-Arab Media Dialogue, taking place from 28 November to 1 December 2010 in Abu Dhabi. Organized by the Ecologic Institute in cooperation with the German Embassy in Abu Dhabi, the event was funded by the German Federal Foreign Office.
Regarding the role of the media, participants agreed that raising awareness and spreading knowledge are essential for any climate policy, and that media has a key role to play in this process. Beyond the media, governments, science and civil society organisations all have their different and distinct roles in the process. Also, the communication of climate issues should be addressed to different audiences: as outreach to the general public (either as citizens or as consumers), or to business and to decision makers. While each of these are important, the specific circumstances and the political systems in each country will determine which channel works best. For journalists reporting on climate change, the key challenge is to get a clear message across to their audience, while recognising uncertainties and avoiding oversimplification.
On the state of climate policies in the region, it was suggested that the transfer of technologies and knowledge would be an important factor, provided that technologies are adapted to the local context. Beyond project-based initiatives, support is needed to develop climate policies and adaptation strategies. In particular, with regard to adaptation to climate change, participants considered it much more useful to mainstream adpation into sectoral policies, rather than institutionalising it as a separate policy area.
Finally, a huge untapped potential for regional cooperation was identified, both on adaptation to climate change and on reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Some mechanisms and platforms for such cooperation have been established in the past, however, these have not yet lived up to their expectations.
The program was complemented by field trips to Masdar City and to a groundwater recharge project in the Liwa desert. Masdar City, a project of the Masdar Initiative, is being constructed as the world’s first zero-carbon city. The groundwater recharge project in the Liwa desert aims to artificially recharge groundwater resources in order to build up strategic freshwater supplies for Abu Dhabi. It is implemented by the GIZ -- Deutsche Gesellschaft für Internationale Zusammenarbeit (formerly GTZ International Services).
- Press Release of the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA)
- IRENA Newsletter No.4 - January 2011 (page 6): Climate change and energy policy in the Arab region: The German Federal Foreign Office and the environmental think tank, the Ecologic Institute, organised a media conference in Abu Dhabi
Articles of journalists involved:
- Journey of a thousand miles [pdf, 403 kB, English] - The International Renewable Energy Agency in Abu Dhabi has a new Interim Director-General. He wants to build up the young organisation with diplomacy and optimism (Daniela Becker, by courtesy of Sun & Wind Energy, 02/2011)
- Neuer Anlauf für die IRENA - Interview with Adnan Z. Amin, Acting Interim Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) (Daniela Becker, KLIMARETTER.INFO, 13 Januar 2011, German)
- Masdar City clips another $2.5bn from price tag (Tamsin Carlisle, TheNational, 1 December 2010)
- Irena chief wants to map energy (Vesela Todorova, TheNational, 30 November 2010)
- UAE effectively uses wealth for green cause (Binsal Abdul Kader, gulfnews.com, 5 December 2010)
- Streicht die Ölsubventionen! - Interview with Adnan Z. Amin, Acting Interim Director-General, International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA): (Hanna Gersmann, die tageszeitung, 8 December 2010, German)
- Climate change threatens the economic interests of the Gulf (Prof. Ibrahim Abdel-Gelil Al-Sayed, Director of the Environmental Management Programme at the Arabian Gulf University, Bahrain, December 2010)
- Wind speed, solar energy maps soon (Binsal Abdul Kader, gulfnews.com, 30 November 2010)