Over the past 5 decades, the United Arab Emirates (UAE) has had a significant social and economic transformation shifting from being an economy based on fishing and pearl extraction, to becoming one of the wealthiest countries in the world. Today, oil and gas production support an economy that allows the government to place significant resources into the development and wellbeing of its citizens. The country also follows an aggressive development strategy that seeks to diversify and attract private investment, making it one of the top countries in the world to conduct business.
Ecosystem services play a crucial role in a healthy financial state, and an environmentally sustainable future for the UAE, which has been recognized by several strategies of the government. Marine Protected Areas (MPAs) play an increasingly important role in the provision of the ecosystem services needed to ensure coastal protection, climate adaptation, and food security. The UAE has made significant international commitments in support of climate change and the protection of their marine and coastal environment. An increase in tourism as an economic driver has also led the government to consider more sustainable practices as a government priority.
The Emirates Wildlife Society in partnership with WWF, have made ocean and coastal conservation a priority. Their goal is to demonstrate the value of a network of MPAs to the provision of valuable ecosystem services. EWS_WWF contracted Planet4People to conduct a baseline assessment to build a narrative around ecosystem services and the need to create Marine Protected Areas to ensure the ecosystem resiliency. The P4P team prepared a document that would serve to reach out to, inform and actively engage government officials, decision-makers and other relevant stakeholders. The report provides an insight into the value of the ecosystem services, the importance of an MPA network, an analysis linking these services to the policy and economic strategies of the UAE. The study is accompanied by case studies from around the world that substantiate the ecosystem service provision models.