Register for our free newsletter

Latest News

The Irena irony

The Irena irony

Abu Dhabi has won the bid to host Irena’s interim HQ. How did that happen?

June 30, 2009 3:37 by

The irony isn’t lost on anyone: Abu Dhabi, beat Bonn, Germany and Vienna, Austria in the race to become the interim headquarter of the International Renewable Energy Association (Irena), in spite of the UAE having the highest Ecological Footprint in the world, according to the WWF’s Living Planet Report 2008.

Both Austria and Germany were ranked 20th and 30th in same report.

So why did Abu Dhabi win? Perhaps its sovereign wealth fund, the Abu Dhabi Investment Authority (ADIA, which is reportedly worth $627 billion) may have had something do with it. The UAE’s capital’s bid to host the association was worth more than double Germany’s $11 million. Abu Dhabi even offered to pay for the headquarters and a worldwide advertising campaign.

To be fair, Abu Dhabi is trying to improve its environmental record.  It is building Masdar City, the world’s first carbon-neutral development of its scale. The $15 billion development will house the Sustainable Cities Research Center, which will provide invaluable information to nations that wish to build similar developments. The project, which will be powered almost entirely by solar panels, will house 40,000 people when it is completed in 2016.

Furthermore, the capital is launching a capital investment venture, Masdar Clean Tech Fund – valued at $250 million – to provide funds for developments in green technology.

With Abu Dhabi’s financial assets and its willingness to change its poor environmental track record, perhaps the UAE capital is an apt choice for Irena’s HQ.

However, changing the world’s perception about Abu Dhabi’s commitment to renewable energy will take considerable work. Aside from the damage the WWF’s index did to the nation’s reputation as a responsible global player, Abu Dhabi will need to contend with its association with Dubai and its indoor ski slopes and manmade islands.

Will Dubai’s extravagances put a strain on the relationship between the two emirates, or is this a non-issue?

Tags: , , ,


  1. khalid on June 30, 2009 5:02 pm

    where’s the ADIA connection??

  2. SFB on July 1, 2009 7:26 am

    Surely it’s a perfect venue? The UAE has a very hostile natural environment, or is everyone forgetting that? The standard of living that everyine in Bonn and Vienna takes for granted, has to be created out of sand and the intense heat and humidity of the Gulf region. Despite all of that, Abu Dhabi is spending vast amounts of its financial resources to try and create a more carbon-neutral environment. That’s a grand design, and it is perfectly appropriate that it has been recognised.

  3. SKK on July 1, 2009 8:10 am

    I think that it is step in the right direction, as one of the biggest Oil exporter AbuDhabi is trying to do its share to benifit generations to come not only in Abu Dhabi but in the UAE. I am really glad.

  4. Peter Peter on July 1, 2009 8:38 am

    Before we in to “renewable” energy we should start with conserving energy and recycling of resources. Its a state of mind and trying to spearhead one effort and ignoring another completely does not make sense.

    If only one looks at the waste of energy in the UAE , it is appalling.

    Building of golf courses , 4 – 5 per city is a case in point. Building design which needs air conditioning even in winter when the weather is pleasant is another.

    It would be very interesting to know why the other countries withdrew their bids. Please tell us more about it.

  5. Nick on July 1, 2009 10:10 am

    Conservation starts with education. Perhaps a good start would be for the UAE government to make the local population pay full rates for electricity, water, sewage and telecom (which at present are heavily subsidised). Washing three Landcruisers twice a day would soon be a thing of the past. A start.


Leave a Comment