x Abu Dhabi, UAEMonday 24 July 2017

Australia’s Greg Hunt named ‘best minister in the world’ at Dubai summit

Greg Hunt received the award for his creativity, the impact of the projects he initiated, the ease of enacting them within and outside Australia, and other criteria.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, presents the Best Minister of the World Award to Greg Hunt, the Australian Minster of Environment. Afsal Sham / Al Ittihad
Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, presents the Best Minister of the World Award to Greg Hunt, the Australian Minster of Environment. Afsal Sham / Al Ittihad

DUBAI // Australia’s environment minister was named the best minister at the World Government Summit in Dubai on Tuesday.

Greg Hunt received the award for his creativity, the impact of the projects he initiated, the ease of enacting them within and outside Australia, and other criteria.

The award, created by Thomson Reuters, focuses on aspects including innovative leadership, quality and impact.

The World Bank, the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development, and auditing firm EY were among the judges of the award.

Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, and Mohammed Al Gergawi, Minister of Cabinet Affairs and chairman of the summit’s organising committee, presented the award to Mr Hunt, who was said to have played a crucial role in lowering carbon emissions in Australia.

The Australian leader launched initiatives that cut greenhouse gases by 93 million tonnes, as well as projects to safeguard marine coral and reduce water and land pollution.

“I am deeply proud that this inaugural award is being presented to an environment minister,” Mr Hunt said.

“It is our common heritage, our land, our home and our identity.

“As an Australian, I also see this as a recognition of the profound work that Australia has done for the environment.”

He applauded the UAE’s vision to be one of the most innovative countries in the world.

“The UAE is promoting innovation in the renewables industry while supporting research in clean technology,” said Mr Hunt.

“We all learn from each other and perhaps there are some policies and programmes in Australia that may be of interest both domestically and internationally.”

The minister said that Australia was open to renewable investment. “We have shown it is possible to significantly reduce emissions without hurting our economy or putting extra strain on the lowest income earners,” he said. “Crucial for reducing our emissions is also greater adoption of renewable energy.”

Australia was fortunate to have 2.4 million homes, covering 15 per cent of the country, equipped with solar panels – the highest number in the world, Mr Hunt said.

The country had a renewable energy target to build as much large-scale renewable energy infrastructure in the next five years as had been built over the past 15 years, he said.

Mr Hunt said that Australia would work with the UAE to help create an international partnership for blue carbon, which is carbon captured by oceans and coastal ecosystems.

“Just as rainforests have an incredible capacity to absorb greenhouse gases, so do mangroves,” he said.

“Indeed, the UAE has been a pioneer in mangrove or blue carbon conservation with the benefits of emission reduction and marine biodiversity.

“This partnership will aim to accelerate action on protecting our great mangrove systems and we invite other countries to work with us.”

The minister said he was optimistic about achieving his goals. “This is because of the lessons that my father taught me about the value of a vision supported by a plan,” he said.

“Above all else, I am optimistic because as a husband and a father … I can see the same truth that all parents see – in the end, humanity and the environment are both fundamentally worthy and fundamentally linked.”

cmalek@thenational.ae