The UAE’s National Committee on SDGs was formed in January 2017, by a decree of the UAE Cabinet. Her Excellency Reem bint Ebrahim al Hashimy, Minister of State for International Cooperation chairs the National Committee. Federal Competitiveness and Statistics Centre (FCSC) serves as vice-chair and secretariat for the Committee.
To effectively implement the SDGs, the UAE adopted a whole of government approach that entailed the creation of a National Committee on SDGs. The committee is responsible for promoting sustainable development and creating ownership of the goals.
Ministry of Cabinet Affairs, Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and 15 other federal government organisations are members of the committee and are responsible for the national implementation of SDGs, monitoring and reporting the progress towards the targets and stakeholder engagement.
The committee facilitates the alignment of the SDGs, sharing of information and supports the implementation of the SDGs in an integrated manner. The National Committee collaborates with different stakeholders locally and internationally to broaden the ownership of the 2030 Agenda.
In 2018, the National Committee launched an advisory council represented by private sector leaders as well as a youth advisory council to uncover implementation challenges and serve as the National Committee’s sounding board for future policy development in the UAE. To contribute to the global implementation of the SDGs, the National Committee launched the Global Councils on SDGs during the World Government Summit (2018) as a platform for international experts to come together and discuss innovative solutions to global challenges.
The National Committee has a mandate to engage with relevant local and international stakeholders to promote the SDGs, align the SDGs with UAE’s national development priorities, UAE Vision 2021, monitor and report on the indicators in accordance with the UAE’s statistical capacity, and undertake regular follow up and review on implementation.
In 2017, the Committee focused on creating the strategies necessary for the implementation of the 17 goals as well as engaging local and international stakeholders. Example of strategies developed during 2017 include a national SDG operational strategy to kick start reporting and monitoring of data related to the SDGs, and a communication strategy to engage local stakeholders and raise awareness on the SDGs in the UAE. Members of the Committee worked together to prepare for the annual SDG Excellence in implementation event which brought together local and international stakeholders to learn about the main initiatives that support the 17 goals.
Alignment of the National Agenda with the SDGs
In 2017, the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs conducted a mapping exercise between the UAE National Agenda and the 2030 Agenda. At a thematic level, the 17 goals can be mapped to pillars of the National Agenda. To continue the implementation of the SDGs, the National Committee on SDGs’ next steps are to:
- review and refresh the national implementation plan and operational strategy
- set key priority areas and targets for the period 2019 to 2021
- manage the size and scope of the SDG implementation given resource capacities and constraints in a particular period.
The UAE National Wellbeing Strategy and the SDGs
The UAE National Wellbeing Strategy is based on a framework with three main themes: Thriving Citizens, Connected Communities, and a Flourishing Country. Thriving Citizens focuses on promoting a healthy lifestyle, both mentally and physically; Connected Communities underpins stable, connected families and homes characterised by a strong value system. A Flourishing Country underlines the promotion of socio-economic conditions that create opportunities and enhance living standards thus aiding in the achievement of SDGs.
Stakeholder engagement for achieving the SDGs
The National Committee developed an active engagement strategy in the UAE to involve three main stakeholders: youth, private sector and knowledge institutions in the implementation of the SDGs.
Based on the UAE’s Youth Engagement Strategy, Federal Youth Authority uses different platforms such as the Youth Circles, Youth Councils and the Emirates Youth Global Initiative to ensure that development issues are raised to shape national policies. So far, 134 youth circles with 15 international youth circles were launched across Russia, Spain, Kuwait, Sudan, Austria, the USA and the United Kingdom. In the past 2 years, over 20 Youth Circles were directly related to the SDGs. For instance, in January 2018, the Dubai Youth Council and the Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) launched a youth volunteer initiative to clean solar panels on rooftops in Hatta.
FCSC launched the Youth Advisory Council on SDGs during the WDF 2018 at the sidelines of a youth circle highlighting the role of youth in achieving the SDGs. The Council represents a platform where youth can come together to share their views on a variety of SDG related topics and aims to bring together youth to discuss potential solutions to SDGs’ challenges in the UAE, and come up with creative solutions that can shape UAE’s national policies.
Private sector engagement to achieve the SDGs in the UAE is managed through two main platforms: Private Sector Advisory Council (PSAC) and the UN Global Compact (UNGC) Local Network. PSAC offers regular dialogue between the private sector and the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs. In 2019, PSAC was involved in two main activities: hosting closed forums to bring together private sector leaders to discuss and provide insights on specific SDGs and publishing a report on the role of private sector in advancing the 2030 Agenda in the UAE.
The UN Global Compact – UAE Network hosts workshops on how to incorporate the SDGs into business strategy and report corporate sustainability. The Local Network flagship programmes include the UAE SDG Pioneers, a group of business leaders celebrated for doing an exceptional job to advance the SDGs and include leaders from the UAE; and the Women’s Empowerment Principles (WEPs), launched to call on businesses to act on gender balance in the workplace.
In support of the UAE visions’ commitment to youth (and in line with the UN 2030 Youth Strategy), the Global Compact UAE Local Network Youth Ambassador program was also launched and has built a community of over fifty young responsible leaders passionate about the SDGs. These ambassadors support companies to report on their sustainability program and promote corporate sustainability among their current and future employers.
The UAE’s National Committee on SDGs partnered with Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy (earlier,
Emirates Diplomatic Academy, Mohammed bin Rashed School of Government (MBRSG) and Masdar Institute of Science and Technology for achieving the SDGs.
Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy integrates sustainable development and SDGs into multiple areas of its work and activities, including its regionally pioneering work in diplomatic training on UN climate change negotiations. The Academy also runs a research programme on Energy, Climate Change and Sustainable Development that publishes research and organises events dedicated to SDG-relevant issues.
In November 2018, the academy, in collaboration with the UN Sustainable Development Solutions Network (SDSN), launched Sustainable Development Goals Centre of Excellence for the Arab Region (SDGCAR). The SDGCAR serves as a convening point for SDG activities across the Arab world. The SDGCAR promotes educational training, research and policy advisory activities, and supports Arab policymakers in their effort to achieve the SDGs.
For Mohammed bin Rashid School of Government, sustainability policy is one of six priority research tracks. Their research and educational activities are complimented by policy forums held by the School to facilitate the practical exchange of knowledge. MBRSG works closely with government agencies and international organizations on policy research and capacity building.
Masdar Institute of Science and Technology plays a critical role, serving as an interdisciplinary research unit focused on long-term strategic priorities. Its research focuses on clean energy (e.g. Advanced Power and Energy Center, Nuclear Technology Center) as well as water and environment (e.g. Sustainable Bioenergy Research Consortium). As a research institute, it also connects fundamental research with practical application through its partnership with local and international organisations, like the major renewable energy and sustainable urban development leader Masdar.
Read more about the UAE’s National Committee on SDGs and incorporation of the SDGs in the UAE’s national development priorities (PDF, 1 MB).
Read about the UAE’s National Committee on the SDGs on the UN website.