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Renewable energy can fuel growing economies

The world does not need to make a choice between environmental sustainability and economic growth.

The world does not need to make a choice between environmental sustainability and economic growth. The challenge is to be able to secure sustainable growth through actions that both protect the global environment and deliver dynamic economies.

The United Arab Emirates is determined to undertake an active role in the efforts to enable the world to meet this challenge. Already, we are emerging as a key innovation driver for renewable energy and clean technologies that will fuel the economic prosperity of the future.

Our emerging global leadership position was recently affirmed at important conferences in London and Delhi. Two weeks ago, at the European Future Energy Forum, the British prime minister David Cameron praised Masdar and the renewable energy initiatives of the UAE government. The British premier's positive remarks echoed those of the German chancellor, Angela Merkel, who praised the initiative earlier this year when she visited the UAE.

Abu Dhabi is already the headquarters for the International Renewable Energy Agency (Irena). We will further push our sustainability agenda when we host a number of conferences next year, including the Clean Energy Ministerial meeting next April, the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change plenary session next May, and the International Renewable Energy Conference (Irec) in January. Abu Dhabi Irec will carry the mandate from the 2002 World Summit on Sustainable Development in Johannesburg, which offers a united plan for sustainability and a strong emphasis on renewable energy deployment.

Abu Dhabi Irec will be held as part of the World Future Energy Summit , the annual event in Abu Dhabi that gathers more than 25,000 renewable energy and environment representatives from around the world to address and develop sustainable energy solutions.

Securing a global leadership position for the UAE is important because tackling climate change is both an environmental imperative and an economic opportunity for the world. The adoption of clean energy and sustainable practices offers a bridge between long-term economic prosperity and environmental stability. Finding the solutions and technologies that can enable greater sustainability will drive future economic growth.

As new products are brought to market, the most successful businesses will be those that remain agile enough to adapt to new technological advancement as it happens. We will need to be as innovative, flexible and creative in our thinking about renewable energy technologies, and in how we engage the consumer's interest, involvement and excitement, as companies such as Apple and Microsoft are about information technology.

This is the approach we are trying to adopt at Masdar. For example, as we progress, Masdar City - the urban development where current and future clean technologies are being funded, researched, developed and commercialised - constantly re-evaluate our choice in technologies to ensure that we remain ahead of the curve.

Our flexibility, coupled with the pace of environmental technological change, means that as we build this new green city, we are able to stay on the cutting edge. Through technology optimisation, integration and capitalising on lessons learned as we go along, we are also able to reduce the cost of technologies as they mature, which will help reduce the overall cost of Masdar City.

Our approach is already paying off. Just two weeks ago, Masdar announced a strategic partnership with Siemens to develop and implement an innovative power grid combined with advanced building technologies. Siemens will establish a long-term presence here, with Masdar City serving as home to the company's Middle East and Asian headquarters.

The UAE's leaders have established a clear vision for the future, with our economy increasingly based on innovation and intellectual capital. Renewable energy and clean technologies will play an important role in diversifying our economy, creating jobs, helping meet rising energy demands and conserving our precious hydrocarbon resources.

With the UAE's visionary leadership, support and dedication, it is clear we are on the right track.Progress being made and the international recognition Abu Dhabi is gaining. Masdar will only continue to move forward with confidence.


Dr Sultan Al Jaber is the chief executive officer of Masdar


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