April 20th, 2015: As Dubai's urbanized area is set to double in the next five years, incorporating sustainability factors in buildings and infrastructure will become a necessity, not a luxury, according to Dubai Municipality's Assistant Director of Planning and Engineering, Mr. Abdullah Mohammed Rafi.
Speaking during the opening ceremony of the inaugural Sustainability Day hosted by Canadian University Dubai (CUD) Mr. Rafi said that the application of building information modeling technology and the implementation of green building regulations are among the measures that will support the sustainable development of the built environment in the run up to 2020.
The Sustainability Day was organized by the University in collaboration with the Environmental Center for Arab Towns (ECAT) in the context of Dubai's vision for a sustainable, smart city by 2021. The opening ceremony also heard from Mr. Hussain AlFardan, Director of ECAT, Dr. Karim Chelli, President of CUD, and Dr. Hoshiar Nooraddin, Assistant Professor and Conference organizer and Chair.
The unique event brought a wide range of stakeholders - Government, business, education, as well as high school and university students - to one platform, to debate the sustainability agenda, with particular reference to the challenges in Dubai and the UAE.
The event heard from keynote speakers from the public, private and NGO sectors on subjects ranging from food security and water stress, to the roles of various organizations in driving forward sustainability measures. Alongside the conference was a Sustainability Exhibition, which saw organizations from the transport, energy, agriculture, retail, NGO and Government sectors showcase their own contributions to sustainable development.
The event also put the future custodians of the environment centre-stage in a high school speaking competition that saw teams from nine schools from Dubai, Sharjah and Abu Dhabi provide their own insights into the challenges for a sustainable future.
Recycling, sustainable economic development, and the preservation of natural resources were among the topics debated, with Millennium School Dubai student Disha Bobby taking the winner's trophy and AED 7,000 prize money. Haseeb Khan and Fatima Mamzi, both of Sharjah American International School, took second and third place respectively.
Speaking on behalf of CUD, Dr. Karim Chelli, said, "Through our academic programs, particularly in the School of Environment and Health Sciences, we are playing a part in preparing students to contribute to a sustainable future. We also aim to practice what we preach, and this event further reinforces our commitment to supporting the sustainability aims of Dubai."