The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) and Etihad Aviation Group have joined forces by signing a memorandum of understanding (MoU) that details collaboration on several critical environmental programmes. The programmes are all designed to align with international challenges and Abu Dhabi’s environmental agenda.
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The EAD and Etihad have selected globally significant priorities for the partnership that include the reduction of single-use plastics on flights, assessing carbon emission offsets and the protection and conservation of biodiversity through awareness campaigns and screenings on in-flight entertainment.
Moreover, both parties will collaborate on an integrated and sustainable waste management plan across Etihad’s activities.
Dr Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, secretary-general of the EAD, said: “Within Abu Dhabi, we have seen a large number of prominent organisations all working towards collaborating with the EAD on the conservation of the environment and Etihad is one of them. We are very pleased to be taking Abu Dhabi’s environmental priorities to the air and with the signing of this MoU we can begin serious work on critical environmental projects that are a major component of the Abu Dhabi government’s vision for a sustainable and healthier future for all.”
She added: “By cooperating, soon we will see a major reduction of single-use plastic aboard Etihad Airways – a step forward in our over-arching, larger campaign for the capital. Furthermore, we will work together on a carbon-offset programme and develop an integrated waste-management system across Etihad’s activities.”
She went on to say that the EAD and Etihad will be sharing relevant information on various projects and as part of creating awareness on important environmental topics.
The MoU is the next step in successful historical relations between the EAD and Etihad, who partnered for the Year of Zayed Birdathon that saw 10 flamingos tracked by satellite from Al Wathba Protected Area – with some travelling as far as Azerbaijan and Kazakhstan, and back to Abu Dhabi. Over two years later, many still have their tags on and are still transmitting data.
Etihad has also been screening the EAD’s wildlife documentaries ‘Back to the Wild’ and ‘Zayed’s Antarctic Lights’. The Agency also had an ambassador on Etihad’s World Record Long Haul Single-Use, Plastic-Free Flight, between Abu Dhabi and Brisbane, on Earth Day last year.
Tony Douglas, Etihad Aviation Group CEO, said: “The drive to sustainable aviation and cleaner skies is a fundamental principle for Etihad Airways, and a shared objective with Abu Dhabi as we strive to reduce the historic reliance on oil and diversify the local economy, in line with the Abu Dhabi 2030 social and economic plan.
“As the agency essentially responsible for reaching the environmental objectives of the country, the EAD is helping to lead the way to a sustainable future for the UAE. Working together to build on our shared objectives and existing partnerships, the EAD and Etihad are able to put our vision and innovation to practice, developing real-world solutions to environmental challenges that will have immediate and long term benefits, not only for the UAE but for global consumers and communities.
“Even in the face of the wider Covid-related crisis aviation faces, it’s vitally important we remain committed to our sustainability objectives, as responsible climate action remains the most significant long-term challenge facing the aviation industry. Our partnership with the EAD puts words into action and validates our commitment to sustainable aviation through transparent planning and measurable action.”
Regarding the single-use plastic project, the MoU stipulates that Etihad will commit to the reduction of single-use plastics by 2022 – at least an 80 per cent reduction on 2020’s figures. The EAD will use its expertise on environmental policies to guide and support Etihad to help them achieve this target.
The EAD will also help to identify plastic items and their sustainable alternatives in line with the Abu Dhabi Single-Use Plastic Policy that was launched in February of this year.
To reduce and offset carbon emissions and harmful pollutants, both entities will devise climate change mitigation and adaptation initiatives of mutual benefit, and together promote carbon footprint reduction and carbon offsetting. Additionally, they will be developing and implementing pioneering projects to reduce air pollutants from Etihad’s activities.
In line with EAD’s strategic priority for the conservation and raising awareness on biodiversity, Etihad will display regular environmental features on the environment, biodiversity and ecotourism via its in-flight entertainment content. It will also host a sustainable environmental channel that will showcase EAD’s documentaries as well as the most important current sustainability initiatives.
Etihad will also consider partnering in wildlife satellite tracking and participate in ‘Collaboration on Animal Transport Association’ meetings with the EAD, providing input related to animal transportation as per the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora and other relevant conventions.
The integrated waste-management plan created by the EAD and Etihad will aim to reduce waste from different Etihad activities; classify waste based on an approved and sustainable methodology; increase the percentage of the use of recyclable materials and finally, conduct research and implement initiatives to utilize biofuel use.
In conclusion, the MoU will result in Abu Dhabi’s environmental priorities being implemented in the sky, as well as on the land, air and in the sea with this collaboration between the two organisations.