Dr. Fatin Samara, a leading figure in the UAE’s climate change research community, has emphasized the importance of evidence-based decision-making when developing policies that address climate change. The Professor of Environmental Sciences at American University of Sharjah (AUS) used her presence at the recent 27th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP27) to call for more collaboration between scientists in the fight against climate change.
Representing AUS and the UAE Climate Change Research Network (CCRN), the latter of which she co-chairs, Dr. Samara addressed COP27 audiences at the following sessions:
- Science-Driven Policy in Climate Action, hosted by the CCRN
- Science Policy-Interface for Climate Action, hosted by the Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations (UN) and the UN Resident Coordinator Office in the UAE
- Science-Policy Implementation Interface for Food Systems Transportation and National Adaption Plan Implementation in the Middle East and Africa
Attracting global leaders in climate change policy from across the world, COP27 provided an important platform for sharing the UAE’s climate change goals and its work toward achieving net-zero emissions by 2050. According to Dr. Samara, closing the gap between science and policy, a key objective of the CCRN, will be instrumental to all countries for reaching their net-zero goals.
“The UAE has many environmental success stories when it comes to bridging research and science with policy and implementation. The Marine Protected Areas in Abu Dhabi came about as a result of research collaboration between academia and the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi. Additionally, the Sharjah Environment and Protected Areas Authority and researchers at AUS established one of the region’s first databases to monitor plastic ingestion by sea turtles and the first worldwide assessments on the impact of oil spills on sea snakes,” Dr. Samara said.
Launched by the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE) in 2021, the CCRN, which played an important part in the UAE’s contribution at COP27, brings together a group of committed climate scientists and researchers to facilitate dissemination of knowledge and advance development of research collaborations. Network members are drawn from government, universities, and other research entities.
His Excellency Eng Essa Al Hashmi, Assistant Undersecretary for the Sustainable Communities Sector and Acting Assistant Undersecretary for the Green Development and Climate Change Sector at MOCCAE, said: “The CCRN was formed to establish a collaborative system to evaluate the impact of climate change on the environment, economy and society to define appropriate adaptation measures and propose sustainable solutions. The outcomes of its work, such as The UAE State of Climate Report, play an integral role in informing the Ministry’s climate policies, strategies and action plans, and help position our country as a regional leader in climate knowledge.”
Dr. Samara added: “The CCRN provides a strategic platform for scientists to jointly pursue policy-relevant climate research. The region is advancing in scientific knowledge. We need to be sure that this knowledge is utilized to mitigate and adapt to the impacts of climate change. The network helps to build trust between government and the research community to benefit not only the UAE but the whole region.”
With the 28th Conference of the Parties to the United Nations Framework Convention on Climate Change (COP28) to be held in the UAE, many opportunities exist to showcase how UAE researchers and policymakers work together to tackle issues of environmental concern.
Dr. Samara said: “AUS has over 300 faculty, of which 24 percent are engaged in research related to sustainability. Through initiatives between academia and the government, such as the CCRN, an increased amount of this research can be translated into outcomes that have meaningful impact on key environmental challenges. We look forward to seeing what the CCRN can achieve in the lead-up to COP28 and letting the world know about these achievements when the event takes place next year.”