It’s not always easy to find out which Dubai companies or products have a green ethos or a strong line in corporate social responsibility. Often when you do manage to get hold of information, it’s so riddled with jargon and figures that it may as well have been written in hieroglyphics.
‘There still isn’t a watchdog monitoring green companies [in the UAE] as there is in European countries,’ says Ahmed Detta, the Middle Eastern representative for the International Green Awards, which hosted a Sustainability Summit in Dubai at the beginning of June. ‘But we’re also seeing that more and more organisations here want to communicate their green practices in a manner that not only consumers will understand, but is also away from the fluff of “We’ve planted a tree in the desert”,’ he explains.
At present, green-minded hotels are the easiest to spot, thanks to the Green Globe Certificate for the hospitality industry – Detta notes that increasing numbers of consumers are now taking note of this. He also offers the National Bank of Abu Dhabi as an example of a company looking to communicate its initiatives more effectively. ‘It has just published its sustainability report, showing its green practices and what award schemes it’s working towards.’
Detta notes that the transiency of the population in the region can make communication between companies and consumers tougher than it might be elsewhere. ‘I think it hinders consistent consumer behaviour, which means organisations have to be even more proactive in their communication of what’s green, why it is, and how certain things are recycled.’
He does, however, note that companies such as Dubai waste management group Averda are having an increasingly positive impact: where traditionally they would collect recycling from organisations, they are apparently now doing more consumer pick-ups and awareness initiatives.
The biggest sustainability step that’s yet to be fully adopted by both consumers and businesses is to do with water wastage. ‘Everybody needs to be much more mindful of the lack of access to fresh water reserves here,’ Detta explains. ‘For example, many new developments feature fountain displays – while it’s attractive, that’s a lot of water wasted, and a lot of energy used to keep water clean so it flows properly through the system,’ he concludes.
Fortunately, he notes that more at-home technologies, such as water monitors and devices to make taps more efficient, are being introduced in the region to help minimise waste, while companies are starting to recognise what he calls ‘the intrinsic link’ between sustainability and profitability. Once they’ve got that down, all that’s left is for them to find a way to communicate the news to us.
Top online tools
Use these utilities to learn about UAE-wide initiatives, and which companies have the best sustainable practices and corporate social responsibility.
An online information centre providing details of environmentally conscious businesses and people throughout the UAE and the Gulf, Goumbook can show you everything from which companies to buy your pasta from to how to calculate your own carbon footprint. Soon it will be listing job vacancies in positions that are considered good for the environment, as well as launching an online store offering a wide range of goods from green suppliers, all in one place. Can’t find a recycling point near your home? There’s also a colour-coded map pinpointing recycling points for items such as aluminium cans and unwanted clothing.
The Green Awards
Which multinationals are the most environmentally friendly? The International Green Awards website is a great place to start. By looking at last year’s award winners for green business practices (which include Unilever, Puma and Samsung), you can become better informed about the products and initiatives that are paving the way for an improved future, and support them by adjusting your spending accordingly. Consumers have the power here, and it’s high time they voted with their feet.