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Gundeep Singh

CEO & Founder, The Change Initiative

Dubai has the reputation of having the world’s highest energy, water, and waste footprint per capita. That might have changed in the recent Ecological Footprint report, where Singapore came out as the highest, but we are right up there with them. This is a field in which we could make a big difference if we were doing the right things. Secondly, sustainability is particularly important where there is a paucity of resources. Dubai is fundamentally a desert. There is no ecosystem you can tap into and grow anything; you get your water from the sea and everything has high energy and resource demand. This is an important place to make an impact. Thirdly, sustainability rests squarely on the shoulders of those with a high level of disposable income, because people who don’t have money are already fundamentally sustainable; they don’t have anything. Because Dubai has a high level of income per capita, it is easy for us to explain and sell the idea of sustainability here. The immediate project is to make the idea of sustainability mainstream and affordable for all. Most of the world is currently poor wanting to become rich; it is not the rich wanting to become poor. We have to make the rich sustainable.

Adnan Sharafi

Chairman, Emirates Green Building Council (GBC)

Dubai is a business and leisure hub, which also has to compete with other emerging markets to drive business and tourism. To be competitive, it is imperative that costs are kept low. One way to achieve cost optimization is by having sustainable buildings, especially in terms of lowering energy and water consumption and by reusing waste. Hotels and other commercial entities can have a competitive advantage over their peers by adopting sustainable initiatives. Energy prices are increasing worldwide, as in the Gulf region. And when energy prices account for a big chunk of operational cost, it is obviously the first area to be addressed. At the Emirates GBC, we have programs to help buildings—commercial and retail—to reduce their cost base through sustainability initiatives. Emirates GBC members come from a plethora of industrial sectors. We have representatives from the legal, construction, real estate, and supplies sectors, with suppliers comprising over 40% of our membership. The suppliers are very important because they produce the equipment, technology, and materials that are integral in driving sustainable development, and these members form a significant number in terms of knowledge, manpower, and financial strength.

Sunil N. Kanal

CTO & Director, Sunil N. Kanal

Energy conservation demand around the globe has been on the rise due to the increase in energy tariff rates in many parts of the world. This is also the case in the UAE and other countries in the Middle East. We have been very cautious in our growth considering the current economic recession worldwide. Apart from our base in the UAE, we are expanding our operations in Qatar, Oman, and India. We also have plans to provide our energy management services in Saudi Arabia by 2014. We are gradually ramping up our human resources and will have doubled the existing capacity by end-2013. In addition, the UAE government has already decided to set up a nuclear plant to meet the growing energy demand in the country. However, it will require a huge capital expense and time for the plant to become operational in eight to 10 years. To meet growing energy demand for sustainable growth, the Dubai government is promoting renewable sources of energy. This has resulted in the establishment of new businesses in the renewable energy sector, allowing for an influx of foreign technology and investments. Moreover, a tax-free culture with 100% ownership and the complete repatriation of funds attracts entrepreneurs and makes Dubai a good place to do business.

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