The Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has revealed the latest findings of their Environmental Awareness and Behaviour Survey, which is helping the Agency to better understand the impact of environmental education and awareness programmes conducted so far and to plan future outreach efforts.
Nearly 2,000 people, representing a diverse range of nationalities, ages and industries in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi, took part in the annual survey, which was rolled out in late 2013. EAD has been conducting the Environment Awareness and Behaviour Survey since 2008, with the aim of tracking and understanding the public’s level of awareness and behaviour when it comes to environmental issues.
The results show a promising increase, with 68% of those surveyed reporting pro-environment practices, compared to 55% in 2012. Within the construction industry alone, the overall level of awareness on environmental issues dramatically improved from 24% in 2012 to 81% in 2013. Moreover, 88% of respondents within that industry expressed concern about waste management issues in their sector, as opposed to only 45% in 2012. On air quality issues, an astonishing 90% of those surveyed in 2013 reported that they understood that enhancing air quality was a priority, compared to only 7% in 2012.
When it comes to the industrial sector and the Ready Mix sector in particular, EAD’s industrial compliance campaign, Eltezam, helped raise awareness about the importance of limiting the amount of Particulate Matter (PM) released from their facilities, as well as ensuring compliance with regulations pertaining to the release of PM into the atmosphere. The survey revealed that feedback surrounding the campaign was very positive and the follow-up rounds of inspections by EAD resulted in a 46% improvement in compliance. The survey revealed an interesting trend: the willingness of the Ready Mix facilities to comply with the environmental permit conditions, directly correlates with their level of awareness.
Fozeya Ibrahim Al Mahmoud, Director of Environmental Outreach at EAD, commented, “The Environmental Awareness and Behaviour Survey findings have for years helped inform EAD’s outreach focus for the coming year. Consistently measuring and analysing awareness levels and the behaviour of Abu Dhabi’s community helps us to better understand what motivates people. EAD continues to raise public awareness around critical environmental issues through the careful planning and execution of creative and innovative awareness campaigns.”
The survey also revealed that 63% of those surveyed working in hotels, hospitals, retail, and the private sector have reported an understanding of different environmental issues, with 62% of these respondents indicating that their organisations were taking action on environmental issues relevant to their industry.
However, water conservation practices within the community did not witness a significant change in 2013. An average of 52% of the respondents in 2013, compared to 46% in 2012, reported carrying out environmentally-friendly behaviours such as shutting their taps when not in use and adjusting the water flow to low when performing daily actions such as brushing their teeth or performing ablutions before prayer.
The issue of waste management emerged as one of the most central issues in the survey with 61% of those surveyed indicating that they understood waste management was a priority issue for the government.
Youth aged 15-20 years, out of all of those surveyed, demonstrated the highest levels of awareness of waste management as an environmental concern in the Emirate. The survey results also showed that youth, within that age group, actively searched for alternatives and efficient solutions to lessen their impact on the environment. For example, the 2013 results revealed that 73% of youth opt to carpool with friends or family, while in 2012 only 55% had considered that option. Switching off lights and air conditioning when not in use was another popular habit amongst youth, with 83% stating they do so in 2013.
Taking into account the latest survey results, EAD published a guide in 2014 entitled ‘Protecting our Shared Resource – Sustainable Water Use for Organisations’ aimed at government and private entities, to raise their awareness around the challenges in securing a safe and sustainable water supply, and to support the organisations in creating their own water strategy and implement water-efficiency actions. The bi-lingual guide is available for download at www.ead.ae.
EAD also continues to work closely with its partners and stakeholders including the Center of Waste Management – Abu Dhabi in developing and implementing initiatives related to industrial waste generation reduction, food wastage in restaurants and malls, and solid waste from residential areas across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. EAD also recently concluded the Middle East’s first Eco Club Summit, which encouraged youth to exchange their ideas and showcase their efforts to reduce their school’s environmental footprint in Abu Dhabi. EAD continues their efforts with pro-active awareness campaigns to highlight the current environmental concerns in Abu Dhabi ranging from groundwater shortage, air quality, waste management and biodiversity.
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