27,000 volunteers join Clean up UAE
More than 27,000 volunteers joined hands in the 10th annual ‘Clean up UAE’ Campaign organised by the Emirates Environmental Group in 109 locations across the country today.
The atmosphere was charged with enthusiasm and motivation as thousands of volunteers, equipped with bio-degradable trash bags, cotton re-usable gloves, caps and t-shirts, picked up trash one by one in a massive clean up drive that collected 92 tonnes of refuse nationwide.
“The massive support that we receive each year is a testament that ‘Clean up UAE’ has become a unifying campaign for all people of the UAE to work for environmental protection and conservation,” said EEG Chairperson Habiba Al Marashi.
“This (Clean up UAE campaign) is our own way of keeping the wisdom of the ‘Spirit of the Union' alive and expressing our love and loyalty to the country which we have been doing for the past decade,” she added.
First held on 12 December 2002, the ‘Clean up UAE’ campaign has grown from strength to strength. Initially organized in four emirates (Dubai, Abu Dhabi, Sharjah and Ajman), it is now felt even in the far-flung deserts and small islands of the country’s seven Emirates.
“This is a community celebration. We are proud to say that we’ve seen how members of the entire family – mothers, fathers, daughters and sons – come together to serve as volunteers. It also gives us great satisfaction that our activity is highly anticipated by residents of various communities every year,” she added.
Because of the wide support for EEG’s annual clean-up drive, several campaigns have kicked off as early as 20th November in some Emirates and will extend until early next year in other areas to better suit the schedule of all participants.
Last year’s ‘Clean up UAE’ campaign saw a collection of 100 tons of waste by 20,000 volunteers in 100 sites. A remarkable 35% increase in participation has been recorded this year.
The event witnessed participation from all walks of life –businessmen, managers, professionals, rank-and- file employees and labourers working together with government officials, federal workers, students, teachers and academicians in keeping a cleaner and greener UAE.
Mrs. Al Marashi pointed out, “It is imperative to engage the community in the grassroots level to beget pro-active behaviour and long-term co-operation in making responsible environmental choices a part of everyday life.”
“Clean up UAE not only aims to enhance and protect the landscape but is also an educational platform. Children who participate in the campaign become more aware on how to properly dispose of their trash; adults are educated in proper waste management and segregation and companies have the opportunity to build on their CSR portfolio by taking part in this community-based event,” she added.
Aside from the clean-up, forums, exhibitions and discussions were held in various locations to improve environmental awareness. Particularly in Dubai, SAI Group Dubai organised an exhibition, under the auspices of the EEG, to highlight man’s intrinsic duty towards the environment.
Dr. Badria Al Dhaheri, Director of Community Services in the Abu Dhabi Municipality, praised EEG’s efforts in promoting the importance of environmental protection and encouraged all segments of society to do their bit for the environment and adopt responsible behaviors.
She said, "Through its responsibility to the community, Abu Dhabi Municipality encourages individuals to adopt sustainability as a practice while providing them with the tools to do so. With this, individual behaviors can be molded to be more responsible ensuring that preservation of environment and energy is not just the responsibility of government institutions and bodies, but also the society as a whole. If this is practiced, Abu Dhabi will not only be environmentally safe and sustainable but also one of the best capitals in the world."
She added that the Abu Dhabi Municipality is working continuously to develop projects and support initiatives in the field of renewable and alternative energy for the service of man and society and the preservation of environmental resources, which is in line with the 2030 strategic plan of the government of Abu Dhabi.
H.E. Hana Saif Al Suwaidi, Director General of Environment & Protected Areas Authority in Sharjah (EPAA) was of the opinion that the participation of EPAA in the 10th cycle of the Clean Up UAE Campaign is a continuation of their active participation in the previous years, in order to consolidate efforts of all sectors and institutions of society in environmental conservation.
"This year, EPAA continue its efforts to organize and participate in environmental events in order to preserve the UAE environment that offers each of us healthy conditions for living. Such social and community-based efforts emphasize on the role of every resident in the country and promoting voluntary work”.
H.E. Eng. Mohammed Saif Afkham, Director General of Fujairah Municipality, said that through its participation for the eighth year in the Clean Up UAE Campaign, the Municipality is building on its social role that is strengthened through constant communication and interaction with the community at large in environmental events such as this. He stressed that environmental preservation is everyone's responsibility, and must be treated as a priority.
According to Oussama El Omari, CEO of RAK Free Trade Zone, protecting the environment is essential to the well-being of the organization and the community. "RAK Free Trade Zone actively participates in many nationwide environmental campaigns, such as Clean Up UAE. For the past five years, the free zone has supported ‘Clean Up UAE’ as part of its endeavor to work with the community towards improving the local environment. Since its introduction in 2002, the campaign, which is organized by the Emirates Environmental Group (EEG), has been instrumental in bringing together all segments of UAE communities who wish to do their part to preserve the nation’s natural beauty."
H.E. Mahmoud Khalil Al Hashemi, Director General of the Ajman Free Zone Authority said that environmental projects and initiatives are some of the priorities of the organization which led to them launching the campaign in the Emirate of Ajman 2 years back. He pointed out that the Campaign has had a significant impact on the environment of the UAE. This Campaign is in line with the new strategy of the Ajman Free Zone Authority, which is working towards reducing pollution and improving public health. According to H.E. Mahmoud Khalil Al Hashemi, Ajman Free Zone continues to support all the activities of the Emirates Environmental Group, especially the tenth cycle of Clean up UAE, in an effort to preserve the natural beauty of the country and reduce health problems. The risks of environmental pollution result in serious diseases such as asthma with a number of residents in different part of the world undergoing breathlessness due to the lack of green spaces, urbanization and large accumulation of trash, along with factory and car exhausts.
Al Safi Danone has supported the quest of EEG for over 6 years and is the overall main sponsor for Clean Up UAE. Mr. Emile Latouf quoted: “At Al Safi Danone we believe it is everyone’s responsibility to be a custodian of the environment and consequently we are thrilled to be supporting and participating in this special event. ‘Clean Up UAE’ event is a chance for everybody to pitch in and show they care; it is a perfect reminder that by ourselves we are just one drop, but together we are an ocean creating waves of change”.
Mr. Rafic Fakih, Managing Director of McDonalds UAE said, "We are honored to be a part of the, Clean up the UAE campaign organized by the Emirates Environmental Group since 2002, as we believe it is our duty and our priority to play an active role to create awareness about maintaining a sustainable environment. Through our involvement in this campaign we aim to carry out our part of the responsibility towards the environment, and through our partnership with the Emirates Environmental Group in this campaign, we seek to support their efforts to instill environmental awareness in the community.”
The CleanUp UAE was supported by government organisations such as Abu Dhabi Municipality, Al Ain Municipality, government of Sharjah (EPAA), Fujairah Municipality, Ajman Free Zone Authority and RAK Free Trade Zone.
The over-all main sponsor for Clean up UAE 2011 was Al Safi Danone. Other sponsors included Dolphin Energy (main sponsor) and The Kanoo Group (main sponsor) for the Emirate of Abu Dhabi; Dubai Airport Free Zone (co-sponsor) and Emirates NBD (co-sponsor) for the Emirate of Dubai and McDonalds (co-sponsor) for the Emirate of Sharjah.
An interesting characteristic that is being witnessed in the last couple of years is companies sponsoring the participation of schools in the CleanUp. Thus, EEG would like to thank the following companies for being school sponsors for the CleanUp UAE 2011: Total Abu Al Bukoosh, Occidental and Bunduq from the Emirate of Abu Dhabi; Frigoglass Jebel Ali FZCO for the Emirate of Dubai and Emirates Gas L.L.C. for Ajman and Fujairah.
We are also thankful to Coca-Cola (Arwa) for water, Fujairah Plastic Factory for the provision of the beautiful biodegradable plastic bags, Abela & Co. for snacks at the Dubai site, ETA Zenath for skips and media support from 7Days and Gulf News. EEG is also thankful to Dutco for the traffic cones, and Byrne Equipment Rental LLC for mobile toilets.
For the various sites, EEG had the support of different organizations such as the Branches of Sharjah Ladies Club, RAK Public Works, Sharjah City for Humanitarian Services, SAI Group, Al Futtaim Carillion and Tourism Development & Investment Company, DUBAL and JAFZA. A number of educational institutions and organizations also took ownership of the campaign and opened their own sites under the banner of CleanUp UAE 2011 after meeting the criteria set by EEG.
EEG is thankful to a number of companies that provided us with outreach support that helped us spread the world to a wider audience. These include Zajel, DHL, Aramex and Fedex.
The Police, Civil Defence Departments and ambulances of every Emirate also ensured that the clean-up drive was accident-free and a fun-filled educational activity.
Emirates Environmental Group
EEG is a professional working group devoted to protecting the environment through the means of education, action programmes and community involvement. Established in 1991, it has witnessed phenomenal growth in terms of membership, programmes and partnerships over the past two and a half decades.
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