The circular economy can boost UAE’s GDP growth and bring environmental and social benefits to the country - GulfToday

The circular economy can boost UAE’s GDP growth and bring environmental and social benefits to the country

Jawaher S.


Muhammed Bin Rashid Solar Park

Muhammed Bin Rashid Solar Park.

Recently, the circular economy has emerged as a concept that is rapidly gaining significance in several countries, including the UAE.

A circular economy is distinct from a linear one. A linear economy is an economic system based on the “take-make-dispose” plan, which has no place in today’s progressive and sustainability-focused society. On the other hand, a circular economy is an economic system that aims to eliminate waste and the continuous use of resources, thereby reducing a country’s carbon footprint and increasing its economic benefits. For example, according to the World Economic Forum, a circular economy could generate more than USD 4.5 trillion in economic benefits by 2030 if businesses encourage the development of circular supply chains to increase the rate of recycling, reuse, and remanufacturing.

Moreover, a circular economy is based on a “closed-loop” production system, which means that everything extracted from nature is recycled and returned to nature. Hence, making recycling a central aspect of this economic model. Further, the circular economy model is propelled by two vital forces, namely the sustainable production of resources and the careful management of the demand for these resources.

Due to its benefits, many nations are transitioning from a linear to a circular economy. Similarly motivated, the UAE has made a considerable commitment to adopt the circular economy.

The UAE is pursuing a path toward sustainability and has established several targets, including renewable energy generation and alternatives, net zero emissions, and zero waste, among others. However, these targets cannot be achieved in silos, and a holistic approach is required to address them, making adopting a circular economy an essential step.

In addition to assisting in achieving its agenda and goals, adopting a circular economy is necessary for reasons such as economic growth. By reducing wasteful consumption and extracting value from waste, the circular economy can boost the UAE’s GDP growth and bring environmental and social benefits to the country.

In 2018, the UAE took its first steps toward a circular economy model when camel manure began to be used as fuel in the cement factories of Ras Al Khaimah. Since then, more than 100,000 tonnes of camel manure from 6,000 camels have been diverted to fuel production, saving nearly 18,000 tonnes of carbon emissions and decreasing the cement factory’s fuel costs.

In addition, the UAE signed its first plan toward a circular economy in April 2019 and established the Coalition of Innovation in Recycling towards a Closed Loop Economy.

In November 2019, the UAE took another step toward this model by signing the “Scale 360” initiative of the World Economic Forum, which aims to use Fourth Industrial Revolution technologies to accelerate the Circular Economy by collaborating with governments, businesses, civil society organizations, and entrepreneurs worldwide. This transition is anticipated to increase economic output by $4.5 trillion by 2030.

Additionally, the UAE’s first circular economy council was established two years ago to launch the UAE’s Circular Economy National Strategy and Policy. This Policy was approved last year, demonstrating the country’s commitment to achieving sustainable governance and the optimal use of natural resources in the manufacturing, food, infrastructure, and transportation sectors. In particular, it will increase economic growth, job opportunities, innovation, competitiveness, and the supply of raw materials.

The above mentioned efforts and steps by the UAE are vital to have the required transition. Yet, what could also help fast-track the adoption of the circular economy is forming strategic alliances with international partners who possess the required expertise and experience. For example, the United Kingdom has established itself as a leader in the circular economic system by ranking second in the European Circular Economy index. It has integrated smart systems at the city level and compiled a map of resources and initiatives based on the circular economy model to assist organizations in applying current knowledge and proven practices. In a nutshell, a circular economy offers advantages over a linear economy, and its adoption is a hot topic among the world’s countries, including the UAE. The UAE has taken the necessary steps to realize this economic model, but partnering with its allies will accelerate its adoption of the circular economy.

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