Wednesday, March 16, 2011

Environment Expert Discusses National Interest and Ecological Stability at Dubai School of Government Event

Dubai-UAE: 16 March, 2011 – For too long, the misperception that taking

proactive action on resource protection and climate change is an economic

burden has shackled our ability to get ready for the future. Rather than a “gift”

to the world given by some courageous nations, action on environmental issues

is demonstrably within the direct national interests of each country, according to

Mathis Wackernagel, one of this year’s winners of the Zayed International Prize

for the Environment, and Founder and President of Global Footprint Network.

The Global Footprint Network ( is an international

sustainability think tank dedicated to bringing about a sustainable economy

where everyone can live well, within the means of one planet. By promoting

the use of the “Ecological Footprint,” a resource accounting tool that measures

how much nature we have, how much we use and who uses what, the Global

Footprint Network focuses on making ecological limits central to decision making


Wackernagel’s comments came during a seminar titled “Why National Self-

Interest is Key for Global Ecological Stability” that was held at Dubai School of

Government (DSG), a research and teaching institution that focuses on public

policy in the Arab world.

The seminar discussed the implications of climate change and resource

constraints for the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) region’s competitive

advantage. It was based on a recent study titled ”Sustainable Development and

Environmental Challenges in the MENA Region: Accounting for the Environment

in the 21st Century” conducted for the Cairo-based Economic Research Forum.

Wackernagel said: “The question by governments of ‘What is in it for me?’

has until now been a major stumbling block to progress and international

agreement. But if leaders and their administrations truly understood the

underlying resource dynamics, they would have the exact opposite approach.

Then they would see that it is in their self-interest to act quickly and

aggressively, whatever the actions taken by their global neighbors.

“In fact, each country’s own actions will become more urgent and valuable with

the less others do. This dynamic is particularly true for the nations of the MENA

region, which are characterized by high human pressure on their ecosystems,

leading to ever more fragile economies.”

Climate change and rising sea levels are expected to impact a number of

sectors, including healthcare, food production, land use and urban planning,

water, tourism and biodiversity.

His Excellency Tariq Lootah, Executive President of the Dubai School of


huge challenges requiring prompt and real actions from policy makers.

Unfortunately, most countries continue to view economic development and

reducing climate impact as a tradeoff, and accordingly give less priority to

environmental considerations. We hope that policy makers will take note of

Mathis Wackernagel’s demonstration that conservation and action on climate

change directly benefit the long-term interests of each country that undertakes

these measures.”

Established in 2005 in cooperation with the Harvard Kennedy School, Dubai

School of Government (DSG) aims to promote good governance through

enhancing the region’s capacity for effective public policy. The institution

remains committed to the creation of knowledge, dissemination of best practice

and training of policy makers in the Arab world.





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