Driving sustainability as a key pillar of the Dubai Expo 2020, supporting further sustainable development in the UAE
Reported by: Erika Lindholm
Ever since the first Great Fair in London 1851 World Expos have excited and inspired millions of people around the world. World Expos have become one of the world’s largest and oldest mega-events, attracting millions of visitors who explore and discover pavilions, exhibits and cultural events staged by hundreds of participants including nations, international organisations and businesses.
The World Expo in Dubai in 2020 will be the first to be held in the MENA & SA (Middle East and North Africa & South Asia) region. The UAE has selected a theme called “Connecting Minds, Creating the Future”. Dubai’s Arabic name - Al Wasl - means ‘the connection’ and this is reflected in Dubai’s modern day position as a central hub between East and West. With an anticipated 25 million visits to the Dubai Expo, and 70 per cent of visitors predicted to come from overseas, it will be the most globally inclusive event in Expo history.
The vision for Expo 2020, according to the organisers, is about creating opportunity for the wider region and developing a global platform to showcase the innovative solutions required to address the future of Mobility, Sustainability and Opportunity – the three sub themes for the Expo and key factors that has been identified as drivers for global development.
With a significant ecological footprint, according to the WWF Living Planet Report 2007, the UAE has taken major strides to reduce the ecological footprint per capita and continues to do so. In Dubai Etihad ESCO (Energy Service Company) was established in 2013 aiming to make Dubai one of the most sustainable cities in the world, and Dubai built environment a leading example of energy efficiency for the region and the world. Some of the things that are currently being done is changing all outdoor lighting to LED lights, increasing district cooling and retrofitting 30,000 of the buildings in Dubai to be more energy sufficient by 2030. The estimation is that the energy demand will be reduced by 20% by 2020 and by 30% by 2030.
Similarly, sustainability is a key priority for the design of Dubai Expo 2020 Master Plan, with detailed targets and strategies have been developed to ensure that sustainability is achieved in the design of Dubai Expo 2020 pavilions and related buildings and infrastructure. The ambition of Dubai Expo 2020 is to supply at least 50% of the Expo Site’s energy needs over its six-month duration with energy from renewable sources. Emphasis will be placed on integrating solar energy technologies into the Expo Site Master Plan.
Furthermore a 25% of reduction in consumption of water across the pavilions and buildings on-site is being targeted, along with a Waste Management Strategy that’s aiming to make sure that reusing materials is being done with the intention of maximising the opportunity of recycling waste material.
Post the 2020 Expo, the actual site is expected to enter a new phase of life where approximately 50 % of the assets built for the Expo will become operational and act as a key player in Dubai’s exhibition and conference business. These exhibitions and entertainment facilities create a smart city that will allow the development of the Dubai Trade Centre activities, and act as a new gateway to the new airport of Dubai that will be the largest airport in the world.
The Expo 2020 will create new opportunities for more research and development on new technologies that will be adapted especially for the demands of a sustainable UAE.
Source: CSR seminar “Building the Sustainability Momentum for UAE Expo 2020 and Beyond” organised by Embassy of Sweden in Abu Dhabi, Business Sweden – the Swedish Trade and Invest Council, and the Dubai Chamber of Commerce & Industry.
We have seen many catastrophic incidents, accidents and disasters, in every content with far reaching consequences that span decades. Whether those are environmental disasters or health and safety failures, innocent people and animals have suffered needlessly, particularly when a vast majority of of those accidents can be avoided with proper training. This s a frustration that we can all relate to.
In response, recent years have demonstrated an increased interest in “behavioural safety” across all industries. The reason for this interest is the belief that accidents or near misses occur amongst frontline workers, as per the title of this blog; 70-80% of incidents are caused by ‘human error’ *.
Organisations are making significant investment towards changing behaviour when it comes to health, safety and environment by providing a wide range training and awareness programmes. Chiefly, these take the form of a definition of safe/unsafe behaviours, observations of behaviours by trained professionals and providing detailed feedback aimed at reinforcement of behaviours.
Whilst there is evidence that these approaches can be successful in reducing unsafe behaviours, the benefits of such awareness training provides other benefits such as:
Highly visible commitment of leadership to improving health, safety and environment;
Increased profile of health, safety and environment;
Leadership by example, and
Employee engagement in health, safety and environment;
Health, safety and environment starts at the top, with leadership, demonstrating their own implementation of the standards. The introduction of behavioural training has documented benefits, however, an organisation’s management develops and instils their own safety culture and environment.
To help you in rolling out such behavioural training, it is useful to consider the following:
Knowing your audience and preparing your messages clearly,
Being realistic in your expectations about what this training can help you achieve, and what it cannot.
Prepare the ground in advance, e.g. provision of safety ,materials, infrastructure and tools.
The Sustainability to Action team offers expert advice and can provide the support you need to communicate and engage on health, safety and environmental aspects within your organisation. Contact us on firstname.lastname@example.org for more information.
*Source: Article by the Health and Safety Executive titled: thinking about behavioural safety, October 2014.
Traditionally, October is known as Breast Cancer awareness month, as an annual campaign to increase awareness of the disease. During this month men and women are encouraged to make themselves more aware of the symptoms and help that is available. Ironically, most people are aware of breast cancer, but they don’t really know the basic facts and the steps to take to detect the disease in its early stages and encourage others to do the same. Breast cancer does not discriminate between young and old, male or female.
Do something positive today. Simply check!
Make sure you share the information with your friends and family, click here to find out more.
Over the last few weeks we’ve seen videos of people screaming while getting soaked in the ice bucket challenge. From celebrities showering themselves in ice, to friends, family and strangers joining the trend.
People wanted to get their own version out there, nominating each other and spreading the word and raising funds for charities. it’s been a challenge that social media users couldn’t get enough of.
As this stunt proved to be popular with all age groups, demographics around the world, it managed to raise awareness about Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), a progressive disease of the nervous system, and significant donations flowed from far and wide.
But how effective are such fads, from a longterm perspective?
Making new behaviour ‘stick’ takes effort that allows the change to become part of the everyday norm, and sometimes, gimmicks like the ice bucket challenge can act as a catalyst for behaviour change, however showering in ice alone may not deliver the needs of charities for the longterm, while others argue that such campaigns may do more harm than good.
The Giuardian ran an interesting article on the subject, you can click here to read more about it.
Or for an interesting insight from an economist’s point of view, you can click here to see what they make of the challenge.
In any case, it is vital to ensure that a viral campaign raises awareness about the disease, while also going beyond the one off donation into an ongoing commitment that converts this highly successful viral campaign into one that engenders positive, long-term behavioural change.
Finally, I am pleased to share with you some great tips and ideas from Forbes on how other charities could benefit, a personal favourite is the ‘no-selfie challenge', click here to read the article.
The efforts around developing and integrating sustainability practices in an organisation clearly demonstrate how important effective change management and learning is in successful organisations. If an organisation’s rate of learning isn’t greater than its rate of change, then its going to fall behind the competition.
Employees in organisations, particularly customer service led organisations, are constantly solving problems, often under stress and with very tight deadlines. But how employees learn and adapt to the new norms, in an ever changing world, plays a critical role in how successful their organisation is, and how quickly it responds to changes in the fiercely competitive markets where they operate.
When reviewing various organisations’ leaders, we can assess fairly quickly how quick these companies are at adopting change, such as the integration of sustainability, and the learning curve associated with that.
Managers in those organisations tend to help their teams by ensuring that they work within a supportive learning environment, this can mean that employees feel confident to ask questions, admit mistakes, and freely share creative ideas that can help business become more efficient and effective while integrating sustainability.
Those skills in the leadership of an organisation mean that employees are aware of their role, accountabilities and feel empowered to take decisions, whilst being comfortable with the very real risks that are present in the workplace today. This means that they can engage in the learning processes and adapt and implement change more swiftly.
It goes without saying that to take this form organisations need to be supported by concrete processes and procedures that are widely communicated and understood by the workforce, the key point is how people are engaged.
Employees in an organisation, and people generally, feel compelled to change what they do, not because they are given an order or an report that shifts their thinking, but really because they are shown a fact and the relevance and impact related to that fact which influences feelings, their thinking and their behaviour. In providing employees with this awareness, change management influences their commitment and encourages a higher level of engagement. Sustainability to Action can help you socialise your sustainability policies and strategies, please contact us for more information.
Managing an organisation towards a sustainable future is an area that is often discussed and debated, however, there are certain basic skills and leadership qualities that business leaders require to have in order to future-proof their organisations.
These are the questions Sustainability to Action (STA) seeks to answer in our own business pursuits as well as within the sustainability programs with our clients. Broadly speaking, there are some insights that highlight the skills that can help in driving sustainability within an organisation and radiate to its stakeholders and community:
About this image: Excellent campaign by the Spectator which ran during the Queen's Diamond Jubilee. The message was clear, it engaged the reader and articulated the offer that a free issue was availabe to readers.
Management and strategy departments in organisations often spend a considerable amount of time developing core strategic plans and activities for their organisations. Similarly, careful thought and planning should take place around how best to engage on those plans and strategies, and how to ensure that everyone understands their role in how to make those plans come to fruition.
The benefits of looking ahead and how it demonstrates the value of the communications team in any organisation can be seen in examples where companies have invested in thorough communications planning. As a communications professional, you are faced with a wide range of content and material which need to go out to the business, consisting of a variety of information, from HR and legal communications to social engagements.
To ensure your communications achieves it original goals, you can focus your messaging in a way the ensures the following:
Answer the “so what?” Question
When people read any messages or communications, we automatically wonder ”so what?” , make sure your communication resonates with your audience and clearly explains what this may mean for them or how it could impact them.
When used correctly, they can make complicated or technical information more interesting and easier to understand. Find an object, item or experience your audience can relate to and link the communication metaphorically. It can also help readers to remember this communication in future.
Telling a story
We all like to tell a story of what happened when...and people like to read a story start to finish, not just read about a moment in time. Telling a story helps the person reading it to ‘experience’ it.
What? When? How?
As kids, we asked questions to learn about the world we live in; as adults, rather than being told, we prefer to find the answers for ourselves. So when communicating to your audience, try to make a statement that gets them engaged - ask them whether they agree with your statement thereby allowing them to get engaged with the information, to think about it and to arrive at a conclusion.
Sustainability to Action can help you to achieve your communications goals, contact us today to see how we can help you.
It’s no secret that to succeed in today’s global economy, professionals need to have a global skill set. This is especially true for those who work in the sustainability field, those people who work in organisations that seek to integrate sustainability and raise the bar within their industries. They need to have abrader understanding of their business and industries, and how sustainability fits within that framework.
I have been working in communications and marketing in the sustainability and policy field for over a decade. Throughout my career in sustainability, I have seen organisations struggle with the issue of terminology and language.
Communications people are generally driven by a passion for telling stories coupled with strong skills in areas such as writing, the use of language and interpreting information. It is often the role of communications teams to process complex, sometimes jargon-filled information and translate it in to messaging that resonates with specific audiences. But for those of us who do not have an academic background in sustainability, how can we be sure that we have fully understood and correctly communicated those messages?
Marketing and communications professionals working in the sustainability sector, as well as journalists reporting on it, know that they must be able to speak and understand industry language.
I believe that acknowledging and addressing this knowledge gap is a first step in achieving the goal we are all trying to promote for our colleagues and clients: demonstrating that a sustainable approach is the only way we can build safe future for generations to come.
What are your views? Do you think the jargon we use is clear, or do we need to use common language to get our messages across? Please take the survey in the column on the right and share your opinions.
Shareholders, members of the public, investors and NGOs increasingly seek more transparency and information about organisations’ sustainability performance. This is a significant breakthrough that has occurred in the recent years.
Disclosure can pose a real challenge for organisations, and they need to respond to these requests for transparency efficiently and effectively.
Ideally, reporting for any given organisation, including it reporting on sustainability, should be integrated into a single integrated report that communicates every aspect of a company’s performance. This provides all the information about an organisation in one easy to use and access document.
This highlights the different types of reporting that are out there, making matters slightly more complicated from a company’s perspective.
There’s the Global Reporting Initiative (GRI), Integrated Reporting (IR) and Sustainability Accounting Standards Board to mention a few of the options that are available.
My preferred option is Integrated Reporting (IR) as it is a process that is based on integrated thinking that results in an integrated report that is produced by an organisation periodically and communicates on value creation over time.
The International Integrated Reporting Council (IIRC) defines an integrated report as “a concise communication about how an organisation’s strategy, governance, performance and prospects, in the context of its external environment, lead to the creation of value in the short, medium and long term.” Making a compelling argument towards this method of sustainability reporting.
In any case, effective sustainability reporting can be a powerful communication tool that enables effective communication with stakeholders about how organisations are performing against their set objectives. Companies that embrace this are likely to have an advantage over their competitors and boost value for shareholders.
However, it can be challenging when an organisation starts its sustainability journey as it includes regular sustainability data gathering in a reliable and consistent manner.
I recently read an excellent blog post by Matthew Farrow, Executive Director Environmental Industries Commission, on Business Green’s website. In this blog Matthew goes on to list the ten things that he’s learned in his in my first decade working in the green policy world. As I read through the blog I realised that we all have lessons learned and insights that we can share to help us learn from each other and to help others along in their sustainability journey.
I will start by sharing some of my ‘lessons learned’ and hope that you will join me and add some of your own in the comments below. If I get enough feedback, I will collate a follow up blog to make sure all readers can learn from this exercise.
Three key learnings that I would like to share:
Sustainability has a lexicon that acts as a barrier to entry, simple language and direct messages are significantly more effective and inclusive. We are all vested in a sustainable future.
People often assume sustainability is a lofty ideal and businesses should focus on economic growth and development. Sustainability includes economic viability, and a successful business can only be successful in the longterm once it incorporates sustainability within its four walls.
Managing an organisation’s supply chain can can help in managing sustainability effectively, allowing organisations to do this voluntarily is admirable and has led to interesting results. Sometime peer pressure and public opinion drive organisations to manage their supply chain more effectively, but it seems that regulations may be a more effective route.
Please share your thoughts and responses! You can email me directly, or comment below.
I look forward to engaging with you.
Sandra Anani is passionate about sustainability, with over 19 years’ experience. She has dedicated her career to sustainable development and communications.