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 (www.footprintnetwork.org) 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
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.