Accelerating sustainability: Arthur D. Little explores future UAE model for successful economic growth and emissions reductions


  • Clean and renewable technologies’ deployment can support the UAE’s AED 600 billion 2050 net-zero initiative

  • Jobs creation and positive GDP impacts can be derived from mobility, industrial, and water desalination projects

  • Sustainable solutions implementation should stem from a centralized system involving the government with public-private participation

The United Arab Emirates (UAE) recently declared its ambition and commitment to achieve net-zero emissions by 2050, becoming one of the few top 10 oil-producing countries and the first in the Middle East and North Africa (MENA) to make such a bold pledge. As the nation charts its course to a sustainable future, major organizations now require full alignment with the government to implement related strategies and help accelerate progression. Arthur D. Little (ADL), the leading management consultancy firm with the longest-standing presence in the Middle East region, expounds this viewpoint in their latest whitepaper entitled Green Growth Pathways To Net-Zero – A New Paradigm. The document explores the advancements already made to combat the emergency climate crisis, elaborating on tech-driven decarbonization enablers, new economic opportunities, and recommendations for long-term net-zero collaborative success.


Adnan Merhaba, Partner and Leader of the Energy and Utilities practice at Arthur D. Little Middle East

Adnan Merhaba, Partner and Leader of the Energy and Utilities practice at Arthur D. Little Middle East said: “The UAE’s net-zero announcement has laid the foundations for new paradigm of national growth and sustainability, galvanizing businesses and industries to support the country’s groundbreaking energy agenda. But while many possibilities do await in the coming decades, proactive and collective action is first required for projects to unfold as anticipated and potential scenarios become a reality. The private sector, civil society, and government all have a role to play in leading this latest climate combative charge, which should comprise comprehensive governance, collaboration, and technology adoption inspired by recent progression.”

Over the past 15 years, the UAE has made continuous advances in reducing emissions and providing sustainable solutions across key sectors, efforts which have culminated in a series of notable commitments and achievements. Relative to the business-as-usual scenario, the country updated its Nationally Determined Contribution (NDC) in December 2020 – committing to reduce its carbon footprint by 23.5% by 2030[1]. A new 2GW solar power plant project has also been approved[2], while the second of four units at the 5.6GW Barakah nuclear power plant has also been connected to the national grid[3]. Such energy sector decarbonization efforts are sure to provide inspiration and momentum while exploring current and future technology solutions, which is critical considering the UAE’s 2050 net-zero initiative entails clean and renewable energy investments equating to AED 600 billion[4].

For instance, the white paper highlights that reverse osmosis technology and renewable energy input can drive a more sustainable water desalination process. The UAE currently accounts for 14% of global desalination water production and has the potential to spearhead this area with an integrated, holistic strategy. Moreover, other advanced technologies can also generate local jobs, contribute to national gross domestic product (GDP), and support sustainability objectives. Energy storage represents an attractive opportunity to drive economic growth and meet emissions objectives, while green hydrogen (H2) and carbon capture, usage, and storage (CCUS) are other areas where the UAE has the potential to take a leading position regionally and internationally.


Hasan Shafi, Partner, Energy and Utilities practices, Arthur. D Little Middle East

“From a UAE standpoint, we see scenarios where implementing such technologies will result in valuable economic opportunities in the decades ahead,” revealed Hasan Shafi, Partner, Energy and Utilities practices, Arthur. D Little Middle East. “This much has already proven true in other global markets discussed in the white paper like Norway and the Netherlands, although the most prudent regulatory, policy, and collaboration frameworks must be in place before proceeding with such actions. Therefore, a centralized system for achieving net-zero aspirations is essential, one that delivers creative, sustainable, and inclusive solutions involving government and public-private partnerships (PPPs).”

Green Growth Pathways To Net-Zero – A New Paradigm also sheds light on economic stimulus projects in the industrial and mobility sectors, as well as key environmental initiatives that could boost waste-to energy and circularity efforts. Furthermore, the viewpoint elaborates on the process behind rationalizing the UAE’s 2050 net-zero commitment in an innovative, inclusive, and economically sustainable manner.

Organized by the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment (MOCCAE), in conjunction with the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology (MOIAT) and the Ministry of Energy and Infrastructure (MOEI), a Government Accelerators program brought together over 40 government and private sector entities and 140 participants to generate future economic growth ideas and identify green growth pathway. And in line with its rich and storied tradition in technology, innovation, and sustainability, Arthur D Little was a proud participant of the program, which curated a set of integrated national programs officially launched at Expo Dubai 2020.

“For Arthur D. Little, the public-private partnership (PPP) model has always been central to pragmatic projects and enabling continuous progression,” added Merhaba. “Innovative thought leadership and strategic thinking have been a winning combination behind human creativity for decades, and this same formula has been an underlying foundation for the Government Accelerator program and, in turn, the UAE’s newest and boldest sustainability pledge.”

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