The Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS)
Abu Dhbai Urban Planning Council

A. Problem Analysis

 1. What was the problem before the implementation of the initiative?
Abu Dhabi Emirate, the capital of the United Arab Emirates (UAE), is located in a desert environment and experiences a climate that is extremely hot, and simultaneously humid and arid, for much of the year. Temperatures range from 10-48 degrees Celsius, summer humidity levels are near 100% and average rainfall is less than 100mm/year. Water scarcity is severe – virtually all potable water is desalinated from the Arabian Gulf – and the challenge of providing human comfort, both within buildings and for pedestrians, is extensive. Lack of resource management, from individuals to businesses, resulted in the UAE having one of the largest carbon footprints internationally. In 2005, the UAE became one of the first major oil-producing countries to ratify the Kyoto Protocol to the UN Convention on Climate Change and this was deemed the original catalyst for creating legislative measures relating to carbon reduction. Furthermore, the International Monetary Fund research report ‘Env2030’ determined that while the UAE was considered best in class economically, it was below-standard in the following categories: Energy: 0% low carbon energy produced from either a renewable or nuclear source. Water: domestic water consumption of above 560-920 litre/capita/day. Biodiversity: 12.8% protected area as a percentage of terrestrial area. Waste: 1.8kg/capita/day of municipal waste. Climate change: total carbon footprint of 30-35 tonnes/capita. These categories were utilised as the benchmarks for improvement and change. This was particularly relevant in the nexus between energy and water relating to desalination. The structure of national energy use incorporates population growth, urban development and industrial plans and it is seen that without serious policy intervention, energy demand will continue to rise faster than real GDP growth. The way in which each country uses energy informs the development of these interventions. In the case of the UAE, it was noted that the majority of energy used within the country was for electricity generation and desalination purposes related to the built environment. This was supported by data from the International Energy Agency (IEA), which highlighted in the UAE that 79% of the total energy utilised was for electricity and water generation; split proportionally 39% residential, 9% industry, 36% commercial and other public services and 16% for other building typology uses. Growth statistics at the time (Plan Abu Dhabi 2030 Urban Structure Framework Plan) predicted from a 2007 baseline that the population would increase from 930,000 residents to 3.1 million residents in 2030, with tourism increasing from 1.8 million to 7.9 million visitors annually and finally residential units increasing to 686,000 in 2030 from the baseline of 180,000 in 2007. Consequently, it was seen that the above provided the impetus to carefully manage urban growth to ensure the Emirate’s carbon footprint was kept under control as it strives toward becoming a sustainable, modern Arab capital. In relation to the social aspect of carbon usage, most of the community did not understand or appreciate how this was affecting their life in the long-term as it had no visual societal impact in their day-to-day lives or short-term personal energy-use strategies.

B. Strategic Approach

 2. What was the solution?
Leadership’s identified the following key indicators for change in the Economic Vision 2030 (2006): reduce electricity peak by 250MW by 2012, build four nuclear power plants (5.6GW) - providing 23–25% power generation capacity by 2020, generating 7% of power capacity from a renewable source by 2020 and reducing electricity demand by 15% of 2010 demand by 2020, as their approach to carbon reduction. It was clear from the diversified nature of the strategy that responsibilities for achieving targets would need Governmental multi-agency support for development and implementation, in addition to community support. In 2007, the UPC was created as the authority to define and shape the future of the Emirate to ensure the development of sustainable and well-managed communities. Its key role is controlling urban growth, relating specifically to demand-side management, to reduce local annual and peak resource-loading within the built environment. These were resolved through a new programme called ‘Estidama’, Arabic for sustainability, developed specifically to cover sustainability within the local context. With the introduction of Estidama in 2008, Leadership recognised that the only way to truly embed sustainability principles was by developing a system tailored to regional challenges; to meet the four objectives, within the local context, a locally developed plan was required. The Estidama Pearl Rating System (PRS) was completed in 2010. It is a family of indigenous sustainability rating system components tailored to the Arabian Gulf’s unique climate and culture. It covers five levels of compliance, from a minimum compliance level for both private and public sectors, added to by three voluntary levels for increased sustainable value. Accordingly, the UPC established a team of 20 employees committed to developing and delivering a tool comprising mechanical, environmental and civil engineers, architects, urban planners, environmental and community outreach specialists. This team had extensive experience with other international sustainability rating systems. The team included around 40% UAE Nationals, who were integral to the team, as they understood local issues and needs, and were able to communicate with stakeholders and decision-makers. As part of this evaluation and after extensive collaborative studies the UPC proposed the following outline key performance indicators for all new developments: Energy: Average reduction of between 24%-31% measured in kWh/m2/annum. Water: Average reduction of between 21%-40 % measured in litres/m2/annum. Waste: Reduction of 30% construction waste to landfill. Climate change: Associated carbon saving linked to the above. (Above reduction percentages vary by building usage/type.) The PRS has improved standards within the built environment, utilising established principles for resource reduction, particularly in energy and water consumption. Excessive waste previously sent to landfill has been mitigated by the PRS through the introduction of Emirate-wide recycling programmes. Health and wellbeing issues have been addressed by improving indoor environmental quality, enhancing neighbourhood connectivity, increasing pedestrian lifestyles through shaded walkways, providing local community facilities within acceptable walking distances and increased public transport. The target audience was identified as construction professionals and associated construction staff. However, within the implementation strategy it is seen that wider community engagement is essential. Protecting Abu Dhabi’s natural environment at both the master plan and plot level is achieved through the requirement for natural system assessments by qualified environmental professionals, along with strict construction environmental management practices. Awareness of sustainability issues has been increased across the spectrum of development, from individual homes, commercial and industrial building stock, through to large-scale master plans. Promotion of sustainable behaviours and lifestyles is underway through sustainability initiatives that target schools and universities by utilising local media and construction industry platforms. Initiatives at the labour-force level at construction sites and labourer accommodation drive awareness and embed sustainability into everyday life.

 3. How did the initiative solve the problem and improve people’s lives?
Mandate: The PRS is the first government sustainability framework, globally, to be mandated - this has taken sustainable construction to exceptional levels over voluntary schemes. It was mandated to benefit all citizens in the long-term. Following the first three years of implementation and at 10m 2 per capita, Abu Dhabi will, within the next five years, have more constructed sustainable space per capita than most cities globally. It has also chosen to raise the standard for all self-funded buildings above the minimum requirements; this strategy is unique for policy initiatives. Four Pillars of Sustainability: The PRS is the only system based on four equal pillars: environmental, economic, social and cultural, resulting in a wider set of objectives compared to other systems, giving the PRS more regional context, and supports citizens in their sustainable development. Construction Audits: The UPC strongly believes in effective policy implementation and introduced a process for auditing construction to ensure sustainability intentions committed to at design are delivered in construction. This is a unique process for rating systems globally as most rely on applicant self-appraisal when compiling assessment data. No Cost: All support services, training and compliance assessments are free to the marketplace, including all citizens.

C. Execution and Implementation

 4. In which ways is the initiative creative and innovative?
As with any significant policy initiative, stakeholder engagement and acceptance was critical to successful implementation. Abu Dhabi has witnessed a paradigm shift in acceptance of sustainability practices since the launch of the PRS in 2010; however this has not been an easy journey. November 2010 – ‘Launch’: Leadership made the unparalleled step of mandating sustainability within the built environment to cover the complete built form to create a city-wide framework. To streamline implementation of the PRS, requirements were integrated into Municipality building permitting system and the UPC’s Planning Approval processes. The PRS was also integrated with other Government agency requirements such as utility agency metering plans, upcoming Municipal Building Codes and Government housing project requirements. This demonstrates a holistic and inclusive approach to tackling sustainability challenges by all Government stakeholders. Community stakeholder groups included 47 Governmental agencies, over 100 private/public development groups involving consultancy practices, developers and contractors. It is estimated that the team led over 1,000 meetings and workshops. 2011 – ‘Outreach’: The launch was met with some initial scepticism. Stakeholders perceived that the PRS would dramatically increase development costs without providing tangible benefits. In addition, some in the supply chain attempted to increase prices for ‘sustainable’ products. The team responded by engaging with the development community, in addition to members of the public, to dispel unsubstantiated claims, address and challenge supply chain issues and provide increased education, guidance and support to the emerging sustainability market. Training was a key factor in the successful delivery of the PRS. Accordingly, the UPC committed significant resources to train and test a number of diverse audiences, including consultants and contractors working on small-scale developments and large multinational organisations engaged on projects of national significance, through to training and supporting partner agencies assisting in administering the PRS; this proved a pivotal decision for change. 2012 – ‘Adoption’: Through significant efforts by the UPC and its stakeholders, marketplace stability was achieved as a result of extensive training, ‘customer’ support and more detailed stakeholder engagement. Since 2010, 5,000 people received training on the PRS/sustainability, and more than 900 qualified professionals were examined and confirmed as capable to deliver the PRS in relation to design, constructing and operation of new buildings and communities. This has been essential for successful long-term implementation. 2013 – ‘Acceptance’: Saw marketplace acceptance and collective ownership of the PRS. The PRS became more than a policy document; it became embedded into the daily working practices of the entire development and construction industry. The PRS team is extremely customer-service focused, and offers a greater level of complimentary support to project teams than any other rating system in order to support implementation. In the last year alone, over 400 face-to-face meetings were conducted. Successful marketing and awareness campaigns were implemented that resulted in this unique and innovative policy initiative becoming globally recognised for its sustainability drive and extensive coverage. It has also propelled Abu Dhabi to become an active and responsible proponent in the contribution towards a more sustainable future for all (refer to Implementation Plan attached). 2014 – ‘Improvement’: The acceptance of the PRS has allowed the team to interface with stakeholders more openly and transparently without third-party prejudice. This has been lead through feedback mechanisms, including training/support meetings, questionnaires and eFeedback, to understand marketplace requirements in greater detail. These support requests fall into two main categories and the UPC has altered its ongoing implementation plan to accommodate the requirements through more focused training and eGovernment support services to assist in regulatory compliance and reporting. The result is a local industry that has transformed itself into a first-class sustainability provider in only three years.

 5. Who implemented the initiative and what is the size of the population affected by this initiative?
The UPC has engaged a broad spectrum of stakeholders, including 47 partner Government agencies, including the Municipalities for building permit applications; Environment Agency in subjects related to biodiversity and natural systems protection; Department of Transport for alignment in traffic reduction/management policies; Education Council as a developer and supplier of new schools and as an engagement partner for education; Quality & Conformity Council for materials standards and compliance; Musanada (public works implementation) related to development of UAE National housing and other Governmental support buildings; Centre for Waste Management (waste reduction strategies); Department of Economic Development; and the Chamber of Commerce. Main programme reporting for all related indicators is to Leadership. Private sector, stakeholders included developers, contractors, consultants, engineers and the supply chain, which the team has jointly worked with to create a sustainable material database, for villas, which includes over 2,400 products. Finally, but most importantly, members of the public were consulted. Over 400 citizens attended initial information workshops, and the UPC implemented a number of communication platforms to engage and educate UAE Nationals on sustainable living and development, including educational tools, such as manuals and leaflets, through to online tools. In line with the ethos of the PRS, all documentation is web-based and free. Stakeholder engagement remains the driver for improvement of the PRS in 2014 and the journey to complete sustainability continues. Initiatives such as the provision of energy and water metering data (provided to customers as part of their utility billing statements) have resulted in joint communications campaigns and initiatives between the UPC and other agencies, enabling an efficient use of resources, greater levels of impact and a wider public audience to be reached. The programme is still in its infancy; therefore continued stakeholder engagement and programme evaluation will be vital to ensure further success and improvement.
 6. How was the strategy implemented and what resources were mobilized?
Human Resource: The UPC’s internal team comprises c.60 staff; support comes from all departments internally, including planning policy, environment, transport and utility engineering teams. The PRS team has responsibilities related to the complete project implementation - including assessments, construction audits, training, development support and technical advice. In 2014, the UPC is still continuously striving to improve efficiency further, saving staff time by utilising web resources and a community of practitioners (PQPs). This enables the team to devote more time to projects that are seeking higher rating levels by supporting those involved. In 2011 a dedicated website was launched to provide information to all stakeholders and members of the community. It provides a mechanism for feedback through a ‘Contact Us’ section, latest news and clarifications on the PRS, water and energy savings calculators and interactive tools for villa design. Furthermore, the PRS is now embarking on a web-based review system to enable stakeholders to submit their project submissions electronically - this will be supported by an online construction reporting portal for teams to upload monthly compliance data. It is important to note that a key objective for Leadership is to gradually increase the number of UAE Nationals in high-level employment positions: social and human capital development represents the pre-eminent objective and driving motivation behind all of the policies and initiatives it is developing (UPC percentage of UAE Nationals: 2007: 40% vs. 2013: 54%). Financial Resource: The PRS is a Government-funded initiative, costing $5m to-date. A further $10m is budgeted for use from 2014 to 2018 - demonstrating the commitment from the Government for anticipated growth. Investment of funds has focused on providing free training, lectures, certification of PRS practitioners (Pearl Qualified Professionals [PQPs]) and workshops to wholly create a knowledge- and experience-based sustainable construction industry to support the implementation of the PRS. Public awareness has been addressed through educational initiatives, including the web-based 40-week ’Sustainability Tips Campaign’ to mark the 40th anniversary of the formation of the UAE, advising the wider population on how to live sustainably. Technical Resource: A comprehensive suite of support tools required for all stages of the PRS was developed and has been adopted successfully by the marketplace. Benchmarking: In addition to the core internal team, specialised engineers from several multi-sector international consulting firms provided specific expertise during the benchmarking and peer review stage including the pilot projects process. The creation of the Estidama team is aligned with this objective as the PRS is not limited to consider only environmental concerns, but places equal importance on societal and cultural challenges. Through the provision of training and employment opportunities for UAE Nationals to enhance their self-sufficiency and enable them to better utilise their qualifications and local knowledge, the PRS embodies the very principles of Estidama to enhance social sustainability. Through the streamlining and integration of the PRS with the UPC’s policies, guidelines and processes, the UPC is effectively utilising the human resources required to implement the PRS, making the process time and, ultimately, cost efficient.

 7. Who were the stakeholders involved in the design of the initiative and in its implementation?
Scale: Since 2010, a total of 460 projects have been registered, comprising over 11,000,000m2 of GFA (614 buildings and 10,774 villas), reflecting rapid acceptance and PRS uptake. Each project may represent an individual building or a community of many thousands of villas. Currently, over 5,000,000m2 of the registered projects are under construction activities with over 1,000,0000m2 completed and in use. In support of the PRS, over 400 construction audits have been carried out to ensure developments are de-risked for compliance measures throughout various stages of the construction process. Water and Electricity: Over the next five years, the projected annual energy and water use reduction from PRS-rated construction is expected to be 374,200 MWh and 863,500m3 respectively, with a cumulative CO2 emission reduction of over 2,600,000 tonnes in the same period, these figures, are ensuring design-related targets meet or exceed the original key performance indicators set at commencement. Empirical analysis has been carried out on the first completed buildings to understand metered data results. The first of these was the Imperial College London Diabetes Centre. 2011/12 results identified a 21% annual energy reduction, a 60% annual water reduction, 13% peak load reduction and a 62% diversion from landfill for construction waste. The PRS team will now include empirical analysis studies to measure and quantify metered energy and water reductions in schools, offices and residential villas that have been completed in the 2013 period. Waste: To date, PRS-related projects have diverted over 200,000 tonnes of construction waste from landfill; this provides a diversion rate of c.80%. Training: Despite c.8,000 people being trained across all sectors of the community, from residents to professionals, a 4-5 week waiting period for training highlights public demand. Since the conception of the training programme the team has constantly witnessed demand from the general public and industry sectors and, to this day, continues to lead the marketplace in sustainable practices. Local Market Improvement: The growth of the local sustainability market is being achieved through the Estidama Villa Product Database (EVPD), identifying products with PRS-compliant specifications, easing selection by design teams. Over 2,400 products and 200 suppliers are listed. Skilled jobs have also been created within the industry, and training initiatives, specifically the introduction of PQPs, has increased the pool of locally trained professionals. (Note: carbon savings is the result of the cumulative effect of resource reduction related to energy, water and waste.)

 8. What were the most successful outputs and why was the initiative effective?
The team monitors the PRS technically and reports results to Leadership, who monitor overall programme effectiveness, including: Number of PRS Projects: Shows that assessment of PRS submissions are undertaken within set timeframes and in accordance with established quality assurance procedures by providing appropriate forms of customer support, such as review meetings/workshops, reported quarterly. Total Predicted Energy and Water Savings: Indicates the percentage reduction in predicted energy/water use compared to a baseline building performance, reported quarterly. Total Predicted Construction Waste Recycling: Indicates the percentage of construction and demolition waste that is recycled/salvaged, reported bi-annually. The PRS team also collects statistical information from all Pearl Rated developments through a centralised database. The collation of this data is ongoing and it is proposed to release relevant information to all stakeholders in the coming future. During construction audits, lessons learnt are shared amongst development teams to avoid the reoccurrence of mistakes and to promote value-based decisions during the construction stage. This experience is shared as part of the ‘Estidama Lecture Series’; regular events open to professionals and the community. Applying to all of the newly-built environment, and affecting all involved from individual building owners to large-scale developers, the mandatory PRS is implemented legally in such a way as to halt the next stage of design or construction of a project if it fails to comply with PRS requirements. Once completed the actual economic benefits of PRS buildings will be measured and reported through the requirements of the Pearl Operational Rating System (PORS), namely meter readings, collection of utility bills and waste audits. As a pilot for the PORS, empirical data is being collected from various typologies with a total GFA of 1,000,000m2 during 2013-14. The PRS was the first rating system to include operational monitoring from its conception and this was always seen as innovation in practice to ensure buildings maintain their resource efficiency performance standards through their operational lifetime. Customer feedback initiatives are also an important measurement tool. Currently feedback is gathered through three collated mechanisms: website feedback, training feedback and PQP questionnaires, which are carried out annually. A key feedback/benefit is the PRS clarification requests, which, to date, have exceeded 1,500 questions. Each request is individually responded to electronically within four working days. The 2014 section of the Implementation Plan allows for improvement strategies to be included and this is predominantly where all stakeholder feedback will be utilised in the future.

 9. What were the main obstacles encountered and how were they overcome?
Short Implementation Time: The most substantial obstacle was the scale of the initiative and short period of time to implement it (2010: presented to Leadership (April); instruction to proceed by Leadership (May); and PRS mandated (November)). The key factor in overcoming this was clear direction from the Crown Prince of Abu Dhabi, who directed the UPC to use all means to improve market acceptance. Marketplace Resistance: Resistance is anticipated with any new policy initiative. In 2011, this was particularly prevalent in the local marketplace, where sustainable practice is in its first-generation form. This was resolved through regular face-to-face stakeholder engagement to support developer teams in understanding, appreciating and successfully utilising the PRS. Myth to Fact: The local development and construction community is relatively small, resulting in misconceptions of design and construction costs resulting from PRS implementation. Forward-facing support (e.g. meetings and workshops) not only mitigated these misconceptions, but it also provided opportunities to build strong relationships with those in the development industry, which have proved to be invaluable as projects have gone through the PRS. Supply Chain: Miss-selling by the supply chain of ‘green’ products seemed common at the time of implementation. To alleviate this issue, the Estidama Villa Product Database was conceived and developed. This proved to the market that sustainable products did exist and provided a wide range of reliable suppliers from which to procure ‘green’ products at acceptable prices. Emirati Stakeholders: The PRS is now regarded as a third generation rating system being implemented within a first generation ‘green’ society. Consequently, community awareness and understanding was initially low. Localised UAE National charettes for 400 citizens were organised to improve understanding and awareness of sustainability issues that directly impacted on citizens’ lives. It was generally found, once explained, that the majority of citizens approved and supported the initiative.

D. Impact and Sustainability

 10. What were the key benefits resulting from this initiative?
The UPC has coordinated inter-Governmental efforts to implement the PRS, particularly, entities involved in Government-related development. The PRS team promotes the achievement/benefit of best-value sustainability practice where total cost to Government is considered. Government-led developments account for over 70% of the PRS projects to date. These developments range from housing projects and public schools, through to major infrastructure. These stakeholders are now realising the benefits of working collaboratively during development delivery. At an Emirate-wide level, all residents benefit from higher quality buildings in their neighbourhoods, communities and cities when they incorporate advanced technology and passive design techniques that are indigenous to the region, support the preservation of Emirati culture and ensure high levels of energy/water efficiency (Over the next five years, the projected annual energy/water use reduction from PRS Rated construction is expected to be 374,200MWh and 63,500m3 respectively), which are essential for growth and sustainability. This has enhanced the public image of the Emirate locally and internationally. Community engagement platforms informed residents on the long-term benefits of sustainable living, and while benefits are not felt immediately, long-term resource subsidy savings will be diverted to the construction of additional community facilities in future. The PRS responds to the requirements of particular projects of global significance. The Louvre Abu Dhabi, an international art museum, and Midfield Terminal Building (MTB) at Abu Dhabi International Airport, are due for completion in 2014 and 2017 respectively. The PRS team has provided an ‘alternative assessment’ route for the project design submissions, guiding each design in achieving higher Pearl Ratings; the Abu Dhabi Louvre and MTB are aiming for 3 Pearl Ratings. At the time of assessment the MTB, at 740,000m2, was the largest single building to be rated globally. On a national level, the Sheikh Zayed Desert Learning Centre is the only project to have achieved a maximum 5 Pearl Design and Construction Rating to date and is seen as the most sustainable building within the Gulf Region. Regional product suppliers also benefit from the PRS. The team has trained and validated many product suppliers to improve the local supply chain for PRS-compliant products and to support the use of regionally sourced materials. Regional suppliers have seen greater levels of demand and have in turn upgraded the quality of their stock to meet and exceed global standards. The PRS directly addresses the factors that contribute to the environmental impact of new developments within the built environment. The Natural Systems category ensures the preservation and management of local ecology, habitat creation and restoration, helping to ensure that the natural heritage of citizens is not lost. The Liveable Building, Precious Water and Resourceful Energy categories prescribe conditions for a healthy environment, aim to minimise resource usage, and mandate sub-metering for effective monitoring and reporting. Minimum adequate ventilation rates must be specified, and 75% of project designs specify low Volatile Organic Compounds (VOC) paints and finishes, thereby improving internal air quality and benefitting occupant productivity, health and wellbeing. The reduction of greenhouse gas usage is achieved through a ban on the use of ozone-depleting refrigerants; resulting in over 450 tonnes of non-compliant refrigerants being eradicated since 2010. Looking ahead, over the next five years, the projected cumulative CO2 emissions reductions related to energy and water usage is 2.6m tonnes. It is seen that sustainable buildings improve productivity, improve learning, reduce hospital recovery periods and generally add value to life. Therefore the team is planning a Government-wide strategy to monitor greater tangible and non-tangible benefits associated with PRS developments. The PRS responds to the objectives set out in the Policy Agenda 2007-2008 and resolves a number of issues highlighted in the Emirate-wide strategic framework plan (Plan Abu Dhabi 2030). Furthermore, as more Pearl Rated projects are built, existing areas will renew and the overall Emirate will sustainably grow. This ensures that physical growth will be aligned with the overall sustainability efforts for the Emirate’s economy, environment, society and culture. By mandating the PRS, the momentum generated is far greater than if the PRS had been a voluntary system, and, given the pace of development, changes in the urban environment will come about much faster: the PRS truly is a driving force for sustainable change in the urban environment.

 11. Did the initiative improve integrity and/or accountability in public service? (If applicable)
To date, revenue from fossil fuels has driven the development of Abu Dhabi. Electricity generation and water desalination are the most energy intensive uses of these finite reserves, and the Government heavily subsidises water and electricity tariffs; the electricity subsidy in residential buildings ranges from 55-90% and the water subsidy ranges from 79-100%. In fact, the Emirate spent c.$3.3bn dollars in 2012 on power and water subsidies, and construction waste has a cost of $0.65/tonne to deal with as landfill. Slowing the increase of electricity and water use and waste to landfill is key to creating a more sustainable future for the Emirate, and to reducing expenditure on desalination and infrastructure. Consequently, any initiative that reduces the financial burden of Government subsidies and the use of scarce natural resources can be deemed economically and environmentally sustainable. Market momentum is now self-perpetuating, at a level that will continue to drive the sustainable agenda of the PRS. It is predicted that the PRS can save over $400 million over the next five years purely in resource reduction. In terms of strategic transference, completed PRS projects illustrate the ability of the PRS to transfer high-level strategy to the residential scale, filtering sustainability through all societal levels to the heart of every home, amenities and places of employment. In November 2013 at the UN COP19 in Warsaw Poland, The PRS contributed to Abu Dhabi winning a Global Leadership Award from the World Green Building Council, in association with UN-HABITAT and ICLEI. The award was presented for ‘Global Excellence in Green Policy’ as a regional policy that can be transferred to other Governments and entities. On the occasion of the Summer Davos Meeting in Dalian (China), the UPC announced its regional partnership with the World Economic Forum and the launch of its World Sustainable Capitals (WSC) initiative. Aligned with the four pillars of Estidama, the assigned objective of the WSC substantive trans-disciplinary framework is to lead to a more balanced and consistent treatment of the economic, social, cultural and environmental dimensions of sustainable development. WSC is a result-oriented initiative driven by sustainability principles that highlight strategies that support diversified economic growth while addressing the new challenges of sustainable urban planning. The PRS is a useful tool that can be used in other countries and cities. With its applicability to desert climates, the PRS has the potential to reach further afield to other emirates/Middle Eastern countries with similar climatic conditions, energy and water limitations, and cultural considerations. There is already significant interest in adapting the PRS for urban areas outside the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, including the emirates of Fujairah and Sharjah, in addition to other cities within the MENA region, as these share similar characteristics in terms of climate and Arab culture. The UPC has welcomed delegations from many countries, including the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia and Ministry of Energy and Water Bahrain, giving presentations on the PRS objectives and core components. Finally, there has been a Federal-level commitment to rate all UAE embassies globally.

 12. Were special measures put in place to ensure that the initiative benefits women and girls and improves the situation of the poorest and most vulnerable? (If applicable)
The PRS is a clear reflection of the Government’s commitment to its Vision 2030 strategy; the backbone for all growth and development plans in the Emirate. Abu Dhabi is now seen internationally as the leader in strategically-led sustainable development, which has the foresight to place sustainability at the core of its vision. Lessons learnt show that the most important factor for successful implementation is stakeholder engagement. Some opportunities were missed that may have resulted in a smoother implementation, given more time. Evaluation of implementation highlighted that a greater level of information sharing should have occurred during the initial phases of implementation to prevent misconceptions from occurring. This was particularly relevant to cost-benefit analysis and resource efficiency studies. The training required to complement the programme of green buildings, green operations and ‘green people’, including behavioural support/change programmes, which are aligned with social and cultural sustainability, was underestimated - a more defined approach to supporting behavioural adaptation should have been considered at programme inception. 2014/15 will see this challenge taken up through Governmental support mechanisms. Looking forward, with the benefit of lessons learnt from the recent past, the PRS will need further definition in certain key areas; assumptions that some international standards would automatically work in the local context have proven weak, and in certain cases proved problematic, resulting in best sustainable value not being achieved. Accordingly, further supporting tools and practices will be developed in 2014 to line with local context considerations. Overall, the PRS touches many aspects of life in Abu Dhabi, from the way we build and the way we resource through to the choices we make as employers - all in an effort to attain a sustainable way of living. This embodies the words of the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan (founding father of the UAE), who stated: “On land and in the sea, our forefathers lived and survived in this environment. They were able to do so because they recognised the need to conserve it, take from it only what they needed to live, and to preserve it for succeeding generations.” As a tangible pillar of Estidama, the PRS promotes a clear and progressive vision for political governance to uphold a balanced society based on four equal pillars. Ultimately, cities are the centres of economic growth and the urban environment has to become increasingly smarter, as resources become scarce and ever more precious, to ensure sustainable economic growth. Liveable cities need to be planned to provide value in many ways; they should be a pleasure to live in, promote environmental quality, create healthy, cohesive communities that celebrate cultural identity and promote collective ownership and responsibility, all supported by an open and transparent dialogue with relevant Government agencies. Cities are built for their most important asset - people - and the PRS will continue to meet the needs of all sectors of the community, without sacrificing environmental, cultural and economic sustainability, in order to achieve and exceed the initial vision set out by the Leadership.

Contact Information

Institution Name:   Abu Dhbai Urban Planning Council
Institution Type:   Government Agency  
Contact Person:   Amal Mourad
Title:   Corporate Communication  
Telephone/ Fax:   0097124096255
Institution's / Project's Website:  
Address:   Al Mamoura
Postal Code:   62221
City:   Abu Dhabi
State/Province:   Abu Dhabi

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