Dubai, UAE, 28 February 2019: The Emirates Green Building Council (EmiratesGBC) has signed a Programme of Cooperation (POC) agreement with the Royal Danish Consulate General to further advocate environmental sustainability in the UAE, in a private ceremony on February 27, at the Danish Consulate in Dubai.
Saeed Al Abbar, Chairman, EmiratesGBC, underlined the POC’s objective of enabling greater awareness of Green Building principles and the importance of adapting international best practices for the local market. “Denmark was a natural partner for us because of the progress they made in renewables, around circular economy principles, energy efficiency in buildings and energy retrofits,” he said, adding that Emirates GBC looked to formalise a partnership with the growing number of Danish service providers in the UAE and to facilitate knowledge exchange.
Jens Alsbirk, Consul General and Head of Mission, Royal Danish Consulate General, was in agreement, adding that the consulate is looking forward to transferring key learnings from Denmark to local stakeholders and to partnering with local government organisations. “We see the UAE – and Dubai, in particular – as a very vibrant and dynamic base, where we can also learn a lot from, as it implements its transition to a green economy.” Green, he said, is close to the heart of the Danish government.
Mette Hoberg Tønnesen, Commercial Attache, Royal Danish Consulate General, said that the closeness to sustainable development stems from the country’s green transition following the oil crisis in the 1970s, stressing that the Danish government has been working strategically to support the clean technology agenda. “We had to think differently,” she said. “We started putting funding towards R&D. Now, we have a lot of companies specialised in this field coming up with more sustainable solutions, and these companies have done well for so many years in Denmark and also in the global market.” With Denmark being a small country, she said, Danish companies looked to export their solutions abroad, thus gaining experience addressing the needs of other countries and climates.
Al Abbar emphasised that while Denmark and the UAE have vastly different climates, coincidentally the amount of heating requirement in Denmark is almost identical to the cooling requirement in the UAE on an annual basis. “The figures are actually almost identical,” he explained, “so the challenges we have here are pretty much the same in reverse. We have seen that Denmark has set some of the most ambitious targets around the near-zero-energy building European directive, and we are quite keen to see how they overcome the challenges of insulating and heating the buildings, because we have the same, opposite challenges.”
Tønnesen said that government launched a new strategy for economic diplomacy in 2018 to further strengthen communication channels with local authorities form the MENA region in order to showcase how Denmark underwent its green transition, the opportunities it created and how the country was able to overcome its own challenges.
Al Abbar said that both parties have identified areas of cooperation, which revolve around knowledge exchange supporting best practices. Al Abbar added that the partnership also aims to leverage the expertise of Danish companies in the field of retrofitting, as EmiratesGBC looks to provide opportunities for companies to bring energy-efficient solutions in the field of insulation and HVAC to the market.
Alsbirk said that the initiative is an offshoot of the Retrofit Alliance the previous year, which showcased Danish companies’ proactive efforts to address the retrofit challenge in Dubai, in view of the country’s ambitious targets in this regard. “Our companies on their own are very active in terms of identifying the relevant buildings and market opportunities, but we, as a group-based approach, support the dialogue, because we do have a lot of experience of setting general targets and making sure the private and public buildings adhere to those principles.” Alsbirk also highlighted the strong public and private sector partnerships in Denmark, adding that results have been achieved owing to a vigorous enforcement mechanism to ensure targets are being met.