The challenge of transport
The embassy is located in a rented office in a high-rise building and therefore occupies a small space. The building is situated right next to the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre (ADNEC), which hosts many international conferences. Swiss delegations are accommodated in a hotel within walking distance of the ADNEC and the embassy, so that there is no need for additional transport. This is uncommon in Abu Dhabi, a city where people get around mainly by car.
As well as cutting down on the use of cars, the embassy educates its drivers on fuel-saving driving techniques. In addition, fuel consumption is recorded in driver log books and discussed.
The embassy is currently evaluating whether paying for public transport will create enough incentive for at least some of its employees to travel to work more frequently by bus rather than by private vehicle.
Raising awareness through recycling
Recycling is another important factor in the environmentally beneficial actions of the Swiss embassy. This everyday practice in Switzerland is relatively unknown in the UAE. It was therefore difficult initially to find any companies that could collect the recyclable materials from the Swiss embassy and guarantee that everything would be recycled properly.
One notable example is the recycling of shredded documents. In 2017, the embassy received a certificate in recognition of its saving 53 trees. The initiative attracted a great deal of attention in Abu Dhabi and was a step towards raising awareness of sustainability issues among the population.
A further awareness-raising initiative is planned for the World Expo 2020 in Dubai, where the key topics will be climate protection and resource conservation.
One of the aims of the exhibition is to present Switzerland's success story in promoting sustainable, transboundary water management (Blue Peace) to a wider audience in the UAE.
In general, the dialogue between Switzerland and the UAE on sustainability issues is good, particularly with regard to the careful management of scarce water resources and sustainable strategies for food security and climate change.
Furthermore, the Swiss ambassador was appointed permanent representative of Switzerland to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) in 2018.