As countries slowly ease movement restrictions, environmentalists affirm that the ozone layer has also healed to a large extent, giving a new ray of hope for a bright future for life on earth.
While there might be other reasons behind this unexpected environmental recovery, one of them for sure is the urgent measure of functioning from home to contain the spread of Covid-19.
From China to Europe and the Americas, as people searched for means to survive the crisis, digital solutions became the means for continuity of life. As soon as countries were hit by the pandemic, people stayed at home and continued their work, education, communications, and business through the Internet. As vehicles stopped running and polluting the environment, nature bounced back. Ozone layer started getting repaired.
This achievement calls upon the governments to move, more than ever before, towards a new lifestyle that can be described as a digital lifestyle. After all, it is about conserving the environment that will affect our lives and the future of our children.
According to estimates by the Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO), seven million hectares of forests are cleared each year for many purposes such as the production of paper used in the publishing industry and those that are circulated in organisations.
The production of one tonne of paper releases 1.5 tonnes of carbon dioxide into the earth's atmosphere. Additionally, waste from paper-related industries produces harmful gases. Thus, the returns of providing paperless services are vital.
Locally, there are not a lot of studies on the benefits of digital transformation. However, launching the 'Dubai Paperless Strategy' in early 2018 saved 130,000 trees and enough money to feed four million hungry children every year.
I invite academic and research institutions to conduct more similar studies and provide convincing evidence to all those concerned that the path of digitisation is not complementary, but an essential one for securing our lives and our future.
Preserving the environment is the responsibility of everyone: governments, companies, and academic institutions. Of course, individuals are included too and they have a rather bigger role to play in these efforts. We must educate them and convince them that the digital lifestyle is directly beneficial to them. It will help them save money and effort and also enjoy the quality of the air they breathe.
Hamad Obaid Al Mansoori is the Director General, TRA