ABU DHABI, 19th October, 2023 (WAM) – Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD), has been granted the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia Award for Environmental Management in the Islamic World in the category of Women’s Leadership Award in private or government sector institutions in environmental action. She was awarded the accolade for her pioneering role and active contribution in support of Abu Dhabi Government’s efforts in the field of environmental protection, and for supporting efforts to achieve the goals of climate neutrality and strengthening the emirate’s global position in the field of species conservation.
The award was received on behalf of by Huda Almazrouei, EAD’s External Relations Section Head during the ceremony, which was supervised by the Islamic World Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ICESCO), in cooperation with the Ministry of Environment, Water and Agriculture in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. The event was held on Thursday 19th October 2023 during the opening session of the Ninth Conference of Environment Ministers of the Islamic World in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia.
During her career, Dr. Shaikha Al Dhaheri, has greatly contributed to introducing innovative initiatives and solutions to protect the environment and preserve species, while confronting the risks of climate change. She has also supervised the implementation of several programmes related to biodiversity policies, monitoring, protected areas and natural reserves, threatened species and fisheries, including programmes for the resettlement of species at the national and global levels.
She has also supervised the development of number of initiatives and legislative frameworks to preserve groundwater, improve air quality, marine water quality, and soil in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, supported investment and innovation in the environmental field, contributed to mitigating the effects of climate change, and developed a plan to achieve climate neutrality by 2050. These efforts include implementing the National Blue Carbon Project and developing innovative solutions for planting mangroves, in addition to launching programmes aimed at changing community behaviour towards more sustainable practices by launching the Single-Use Plastics Policy to reach zero waste from single-use plastics – all of which have served to strengthen the global environmental role of the UAE and Abu Dhabi.
She expressed : “With all pride, this award is a testament highlighting the pioneering role efforts and support of the UAE’s wise leadership in maintaining a healthy and sustainable environment. This award was bestowed thanks to her efforts in implementing the vision of His Highness Sheikh Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, President of the UAE, who declared 2023 to be the “Year of Sustainability” and this year represents the culmination of the UAE’s rich journey in the field of sustainability and environmental preservation. It is also the starting point for broader horizons of progress and prosperity in protecting the environment and its natural resources, to ensure a better and more sustainable tomorrow for future generations. Undoubtedly, this recognition will inspire us to work towards achieving greater goals, ambitions, and unprecedented achievements at the national and global levels”.
She added that the nation’s leadership empowered and helped her in the field of environmental protection and enhanced her passion and strong desire to preserve species inside and outside the UAE. They constantly encouraged and supported her during her professional development journey – all the way to her appointment as Secretary General of EAD under the leadership of His Highness Sheikh Hamdan bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Ruler’s Representative in Al Dhafra Region and Chairman of the Agency’s Board of Directors. She stressed that his vision, directives and continuous follow-up were the most important factors that led her to win this award.
The award is additional recognition for her performance in the field of environmental work and the dissemination of successful environmental practices among institutions, as well as her work in mentoring and empowering female professionals and activities in protecting the environment and overall management of the environmental sector. The award also acknowledges her efforts in scientific research, civil society, environmental education and field work for NGOs, private sector institutions and government organisations.
The award serves as a source of encouragement for leaders in the environmental sector and acts as a motivating framework to enhance interest in joint environmental work in the Islamic world and support openness to global experiences in the environmental field and its protection, in accordance with the Islamic perspective based on the concept of succession and sustainable reconstruction of the planet in comprehensive agreement with contemporary international communities’ interest in sustainable development.
The award also expresses scientific and objective appreciation for the efforts of individuals and institutions concerned with the management of natural resources to achieve human environmental security and caring for the rights of present and future generations alike to enjoy a clean and healthy environment.
The scope of the award includes every scientific or practical activity conducted by various individuals in the field of environmental preservation and sustainable development. It is focused on the practical field dimension of the proposed activity for the award in preserving environmental diversity and its balances, while furthering human development.
It evokes a number of goals, including the consolidation and adoption of the broad concept of the environment and sustainable development in the Islamic world. This calls for the proper use and development of natural resources and their preservation from depletion, pollution or extinction, as well as the consolidation of principles and methods of sound environmental governance in the institutions and agencies of the public, private and civil development sectors in the Islamic world.
The objectives also include encouraging Islamic countries to pay attention and contribute to improving the level of management of the dialectical relationship between the environment and development in a pragmatic way. Also, it aims to enhance the required scientific and legal openness and interaction at a global level in dealing with environmental issues and sustainable development and implementing them in the reality of the Islamic world.
The award has four categories, including the ‘Best Individual or Collective Research’, ‘Achievement or Practice, Pilot Practice in NGOs’, and ‘Women’s Leading Activities in Environmental Action’. The fourth category is the ‘Islamic Green City Excellence Award’.
Dr. Shaikha is the first Emirati female to hold a PhD degree in the Conservation and Protection of Wildlife in UAEfrom the University of Aberdeen in the United Kingdom. She also holds a master’s degree with distinction in Environmental Science from UAE University (UAEU), and another in Biological Conservation from the University of Kent in the United Kingdom. She earned her Bachelor’s Degree in Environmental Species from UAEU.
She began her career at EAD as a Research Assistant in the Agency’s Terrestrial Environment Research Division in 2000 and was later appointed as Executive Director of the Terrestrial and Marine Biodiversity Sector in 2012, and since 2018 she has held the position of Secretary General of the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. Dr. Al Dhaheri won the Abu Dhabi Award for Excellence in Government Performance in 2015, and she is also an active member of many international organisations. In 2021, she was re-elected as a Regional Councillor to the International Union for the Conservation of Nature (IUCN) in Western Asia for the second time and she is also a member of the Advisory Board of the UN Decade on Ecosystem Restoration.