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A group of Emirati men walk in front of the stand of Masdar City at the World Future Energy Summit exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Karim Sahib / AFP Photo
A group of Emirati men walk in front of the stand of Masdar City at the World Future Energy Summit exhibition in Abu Dhabi. Karim Sahib / AFP Photo

Abu Dhabi welcomes the world to celebrate Sustainability Week

As well as talks on climate and clean energy, experts on water conservation will be in Abu Dhabi for the International Water Summit.

Government delegations from more than 140 countries are expected in the capital this week for the first Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week.

Besides high-level officials from the United States, Germany, Denmark, China and India, senior representatives of international organisations such as the United Nations Environment Programme and the International Energy Agency are also attending.

The event was announced last June during Rio+20, a UN conference on sustainable development. It builds on the success of the World Future Energy Summit, which has been hosted by Abu Dhabi's clean energy company, Masdar, every year since 2008.

This year's event will be the largest gathering on sustainability in the history of the Middle East, said Dr Sultan Al Jaber, the chief executive of Masdar.

"With an estimated 30,000 attendees, we continue to reinforce our leadership role as an international hub for renewable energy and sustainability," he said.

"Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is an open global platform that seriously addresses the global energy challenge, while encouraging collaboration and innovation to accelerate the adoption of sustainable development and renewable energy."

The showcase coincides with the third session of the general assembly of the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena) today and tomoprrow.

Founded in 2009, the international clean energy body has 158 states and the European Union as members and is headquartered in Abu Dhabi.

On Tuesday, delegates will be welcomed to the World Future Energy Summit by Sheikha Lubna Al Qasimi, the UAE's Minister of Foreign Trade.

Delegates to the three-day event will also hear from Todd Stern, the US special envoy for climate change; Connie Hedegaard, the European climate commissioner; and Jeffrey Sachs, the economist.

On Wednesday, a discussion on the future of renewable energy, scheduled to be attended by Fatih Birol, the chief economist at the International Energy Agency, will open the Abu Dhabi International Renewable Energy Conference.

Convened by Ren21, a network of organisations in the field of renewables, the event was previously hosted by Delhi, Washington and Bonn.

Today will also feature a discussion on clean energy finance, attended by representatives of the Asian Development Bank, the Inter-American Development Bank, the European Investment Bank and Saudi Arabia's Islamic Development Bank.

Tomorrow, the conference will continue with a discussion on future energy innovation, opening with a keynote presentation by Dan Arvizu, director of the US National Renewable Energy Laboratory.

For the first time, Abu Dhabi will be welcoming water conservation experts to the International Water Summit, that runs from Tuesday to Thursday.

The event was announced last year by Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed, Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi and Deputy Supreme Commander of the Armed Forces.

Among the participants will be Michel Jarraud, the chairman of UN-Water, and Fahad Al Attiya, the chairman of the National Food Security Programme in Qatar.

Dr Rachael McDonnell, water policy and governance scientist at the Dubai-based International Centre for Biosaline Agriculture, said it is important for the discussion on water to happen alongside the dialogue on energy and clean energy.

Around the world, but especially in the UAE and the Arabian Gulf, energy and water are closely linked, said Dr McDonnell, who is also speaking at the event.

Most of the UAE's potable water is produced by desalination in combined-cycle power and water plants.

"This event is very useful for the region," said Dr McDonnell. "It is important that it will bring together business with government with researchers."

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