UAE Ministry of Climate Change & Environment Convenes Session on Extreme Weather at WGS 2018

  • His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi welcomes Robert De Niro and Prime Minister of Antigua & Barbuda

The UAE Ministry of Climate Change & Environment (MOCCAE) hosted a session Sunday, entitled ‘Rising Tides: Preparing for the New Normal’, at the ongoing World Government Summit (WGS 2018) in Dubai.

The panel discussion underscored the increasing risks of climate change, and called for the international community action.

The session began with a video message from Hilda Heine, President of the Republic of the Marshall Islands, who provided an emotional window into the problems facing her country. Veteran Hollywood actor Robert De Niro then kicked off the panel with a keynote address in which he shared his concern for Barbuda, the island nation that was devastated by Hurricane Irma in 2017. De Niro pledged to help rebuild Barbuda after it was left uninhabitable for the first time in 300 years.

De Niro said: “I am pleased to be here in the Year of Zayed, the founding father of the UAE, whose words set the tone for our gathering. What a vision he had. Today, climate change is a man-made problem, and our eyes confirm the problems we face. We can, and do, have an effect on our brothers and sisters living far outside our own borders.”

De Niro also highlighted his concern for the plight of the people of Barbuda, and said: “I feel at home in Barbuda and I want to be part of the solution. This is a place that has virtually no carbon footprint but faces the consequences.”

Following the opening remarks, His Excellency Dr. Thani bin Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, UAE Minister of Climate Change and Environment, joined the conversation: “We started supporting the Pacific islands in 2010 under the direction of our leadership. The experience we had in the Pacific was amazing, and it showed that we can make a difference. We wanted to ensure that we could not just build capacity, but also leave something lasting behind. After the Pacific, we started working with the Caribbean islands. These projects will be implemented with a holistic perspective to ensure they have the greatest impact.”

Prime Minister of Antigua and Barbuda Gaston Browne then provided an honest assessment of the status of his nation, and what he hopes will happen next. He said: “The situation in Antigua and Barbuda remains dire, and economic activity is non-existent. Moving forward, we will need to rebuild in a more climate-resilient manner. Preparedness will be absolutely critical, as storms are becoming more ferocious and more frequent.”

John M. Silk, Minister of Foreign Affairs of Marshall Islands, also elaborated on how climate change is a grave concern for the people of his nation. He said: “How do we ensure that our children have a home in the future? The issue is one of survival, and we hope that our community can survive climate change. How can we make that happen? The answer is 1.5 degrees.”

Robert De Niro closed the session by expressing his hopes for Barbuda: “What I would like to see is that an island like Barbuda becomes an example for others. The island has been effectively wiped out, but this presents an opportunity to start all over again and rebuild with the help of the people, and with partners like the UAE.”

‘Rising Tides: Preparing for the New Normal’ was the final session of the Climate Change Forum – Climate Action Now, hosted by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change & Environment at WGS 2018.

Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, the World Government Summit 2018 is running from February 11 to 13 at the Madinat Jumeirah in Dubai. The landmark event convenes more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organizations.

Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 features six distinct forums that examine the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Furthermore, over 20 specialized global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit are being launched during the event.