As one component of the multi-phased Abu Dhabi Global Environmental Data Initiative (AGEDI), the Environmental Agency Abu Dhabi (EAD) tasked GPC to facilitate the development of environmental sector paper studies representing the best available knowledge across government in regards to 9 thematic areas.
Early in the “local” level of the AGEDI program development process it was recognized that understanding environmental issues and opportunities in Abu Dhabi required understanding how all the socioeconomic sectors, systems and actors are involved in their interactions with the natural ecosystems, and the environmental implications of the policies and plans that would impact them in one form or another. While there were environmental professionals addressing issues in every government agency within their own sectors, there was no common forum across government that would support the development of a more complete and holistic picture of the state of the environment, trends, and the mutual responsibilities of the government and non-government actors in working together to ensure the protection of natural and cultural heritage and sustainable development. As a first step towards the development of Abu Dhabi’s first State of the Environment Report (SOE), a process was undertaken to involve more than 25 government entities in a multi-stakeholder engagement process to formulate a framework of related environmental sectors and to compile a best available knowledge baseline of what was known in each, as well as the critical interdependencies among them.
The Sector Paper process was initiated with a two-day “framing” workshop to bring all the key agencies together to understand the purpose, process and intended results of the effort and to identify the key environmental sectors to be developed. These included:
- Physical Geography;
- Air & Climate;
- Natural & Cultural Heritage;
- Waste Management & Pollution;
- Water & Food Security;
- Population, Development & Economy;
- Environmental Education & Awareness;
- Institutional Framework.
The framing workshop was attended by over 150 environmental and related professionals representing all of the most important agencies and institutions. This initial community was then subdivided to nine Sector Working Groups who then held focused workshops addressing the details within each sector. The workshop process was facilitated by GPC staff using an interactive process to explore the issues and causative factors which were dynamically added to a “MindMap” diagram that was projected on a screen and became an evolving knowledgebase about each sector. A team of EAD young professionals worked in parallel to capture the essence of the discussions, as well as any data sources, environmental models and algorithms, special data collection and computing infrastructure systems that were in use across government that might have relevance to future coordination and collaboration. All of this information was compiled to an integrated and standardized form following each workshop. During the workshop, volunteers were also identified to act as co-authors for the development of sector papers for each theme.
The co-authors for each Sector Paper were then tasked to bring together all of the best available knowledge about each subject from all the sources identified during the workshops. EAD staff with support of the GPC team then took responsibility for facilitating the development of each paper. Once these were finalized, the entire set was published by the EAD in both hardcopy and digital form. In addition to being widely distributed and used across Abu Dhabi government, education, and media these were then used to support the next set of planned AGEDI activities, including:
- Environmental Atlas of Abu Dhabi;
- Abu Dhabi State of Environment Report;
- United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) Global Environmental Outlook (GEO) Report;
- AGEDI GeoPortal;
- Abu Dhabi Environmental Performance Index (AD-EPI) Report.