Dugong, seagrass toolkit selected among top 25 UAE Government Innovations

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Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi (EAD) has announced that an online toolkit to support dugong and seagrass conservation has been selected as one of the 25 most noteworthy innovations in the UAE’s Government sector by the Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation, in collaboration with Sia Partners.

The Dugong and Seagrass Research Toolkit is an initiative by EAD, the energy company Total and the Memorandum of Understanding on the Conservation and Management of Dugongs and their Habitats throughout their Range (Dugong MOU) of the Convention on Migratory Species (CMS) based in Abu Dhabi. It provides an easily accessible online decision-making tool to guide the selection of specific dugong and seagrass research recommendations which can be adopted in specific circumstances.

The toolkit is available worldwide to members of universities, research institutes, and governmental and non-governmental organisations with mandates for coastal and marine research and conservation. It supports researchers in the process of setting and refining their objectives, while considering overall conservation management goals and budgetary restraints. It also factors in elements such as time scale, spatial scale, technical capacity and specific challenges on the ground. In addition to collecting information on dugongs and seagrass, the toolkit provides tools and techniques to understand the threats and human community factors that affect dugong and seagrass conservation.

The interactive approach of the toolkit makes it extremely efficient in providing the right kind of guidance, saving researchers, conservation practitioners and marine management agencies time and resources. It is designed to be easily accessible to researchers and practitioners working in developing countries who have limited access to scientific expertise, thus serving as an efficient and cost-effective method to ensure consistent, comparable, and standardized data sets across the dugong range.

To use the toolkit, a user opens the designated website, presses ‘Launch Toolkit’ and follows a simple process tree that leads to practical recommendations. Since launching in March 2017, the toolkit was reached by 3,200 users from 119 different countries, with a total of over 10,000 page views. It has now also been incorporated into the Dugong and Seagrass Hub.

Dr. Shaikha Salem Al Dhaheri, EAD’s Secretary-General, said, “In a country that is as innovative, progressive and creative as the UAE, it is an absolute honour for our Dugong and Seagrass Toolkit to have been chosen as one of the top 25 innovations in the UAE’s Government Sector. It serves as a reminder that we are on the right track and will motivate us to continue ensuring that we are keeping up with worldwide trends, practices and benchmarks and using the most contemporary tools and technology while pursuing our environmental work. This success would not have been possible without the hard work and creativity of the EAD team as well as the cooperation of all our partners, who also played a pivotal role in the development of the toolkit.”

Lyle Glowka, Executive Coordinator, CMS Office – Abu Dhabi, said, “The toolkit is one of the key resources available to the 46 countries that have dugongs in their coastal waters and helps focus research into priority areas. CMS Office – Abu Dhabi is proud to have developed this innovative toolkit in partnership with EAD and TOTAL. It is an important tool for dugong range states to implement their obligations under the Dugong MoU in their waters.”

Christophe Sassolas, President Total E&P UAE and Group Representative in the UAE, said, “As we work toward a low carbon future globally, the preservation of coastal areas and oceans – of which Dugongs and Seagrasses are key and fragile components – is of paramount importance. We are proud of our historical partnership with the EAD which focuses on Dugongs, seagrasses and mangroves, and are really thankful for this recognition.”

The Mohammed Bin Rashid Centre for Government Innovation provides a world-class, multifunction space for testing, creating and spurring innovation locally, regionally, and internationally. With the aim of showcasing the region’s public sector innovation power to a global audience and shining a light on best practices to promote knowledge sharing, researchers at the MBRCGI spent over a year to assess 500+ innovations from 100+ federal and local government entities across the seven emirates to determine the top 25 innovators.