Greening The UAE’s Eco Footprint: PSFK Talks With The Emirates Wildlife Society

PSFK interviews Reem Al-Thawadi, the Communications Officer of the Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wide Fund for Nature, discussing effective messages which motivate UAE locals to buy local and get smart about overall energy consumption.

As a part of a larger federal initiative, called Al-Basma Al-Beeiya, the Emirates Wildlife Society-World Wide Fund for Nature (EWS-WWF), developed a powerful animation in order to raise awareness within the UAE about the impacts of high consumption lifestyle.

While the animation itself was developed by ad agency AYA, the larger initiative pulls together the Ministry of Environment and Water, the Abu Dhabi Global Environment Data Initiative (AGEDI), and the Global Footprint Network (GFN) which coined ‘Ecological Footprint’, a term so fundamental in today’s understanding of green consumption.

PSFK caught up with Laila Abdullatif, Sustainability Coordinator of EWS-WWF based in Dubai.

What are the objectives of your advert?

In the animation we highlight the scarcity of natural resources and the need to live within our resource means to ensure a quality life for future generations. We also provide examples of where our everyday goods and services originate, and the global environmental impacts of the consumption of these items so they can see first-hand the direct links of their consumption.
The larger initiative uses various mediums to reach out to the general public to bring about positive changes in consumption behaviors.

What consumer insights and research went behind the planning and strategy?

One of the core objectives of the initiative has been to help advance footprint science and research specifically in the UAE in order to have strong guidance on how to most effectively reduce our footprint in the future.
GFN has been an indispensable partner. Their recent analyses show that UAE household consumption (i.e. electricity, food, water, mobility) is the primary driver of the country’s high Footprint, comprising 57% of the UAE’s total Footprint. This knowledge prompted the Initiative to pursue public awareness strategies to help educate UAE residents on:

a) What the Footprint is
b) How they are contributing to it
c) Inspire them to make more environmentally-positive and informed choices in the future

Is buying/being green an existing trend in the UAE or are you creating a trend?

There is some knowledge about green products in the UAE and the need to move towards sustainable lifestyles, but much more needs to be done.
Our animation aims to create a more pro-active interest in locating and utilizing green products. The key is to help inspire people to want to use the green alternatives that are available, and help push for greater availability of green products.

Why was the video animated this way?

The animation’s style is geared towards targeting a younger demographic of people who are often inspired visually. To add a local flavor, we included the Dubai skyline and a father in traditional local clothing.
The animation was “sustainably” produced, using recycled newspaper as a way to emphasize the need to reuse and recycle as a method of reducing our consumption. The theme of newspapers was also utilized to reinforce our key messages through headlines.

What other activities has EWS made a commitment to?

We participate in community events and university talks; we’ve also developed several educational footprint tools and an Ecological Footprint website that provides much more detail on what the Ecological Footprint is and how the UAE is responding to it.

We’re is also co-sponsoring  a sustainable lifestyles campaign throughout the UAE known as ‘Heroes of the UAE’ which specifically focuses on helping the UAE reduce its energy and water consumption. For further information on their activities, click here.

Is there an Arabic version of the ad?

The Ecological Footprint ad is in both English and Arabic, and the Arabic version can be found on our Youtube channel.

Anything else you would like to add in closing or summarizing your perspective on green consumerism in the Gulf?

We believe that there is tremendous support and positive energy in the Gulf in relation to green consumerism, but there is still much more that can be done.  We hope that the work we are doing provides guidance and motivation for people to live more sustainable lifestyles, and ultimately reduce their Ecological Footprint and preserve our planet.

As the argument for ecological consumption gains traction in the Gulf, as Laila Abdullatif, points out, the argument for buying local to “protect future generations”; is the best message to get people involved in reducing their Ecological Footprint.

We would also add that a large part of what the green movement needs in the Gulf region are larger infrastructural solutions such as greener architectural projects and effective public transportation systems that makes it easy to become less dependent on personal mobility and creating opportunity for ‘thinking green’ to enter in everyday dialogue.

EWS-WWF

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