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Want to attract investment and tourists? Pick up the rubbish

Want to attract investment and tourists? Pick up the rubbish

Waste management – while not a particularly exciting topic for many – is key for cities to attract investment and tourists, according to a group of expert panelists. With sustainable investing on the rise and investors increasingly relying, at least in part, on environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings to select companies to back, waste

Waste management – while not a particularly exciting topic for many – is key for cities to attract investment and tourists, according to a group of expert panelists.

With sustainable investing on the rise and investors increasingly relying, at least in part, on environmental, social and governance (ESG) ratings to select companies to back, waste management is figured into many of these metrics, meaning it now weighs more heavily on investors’ consciences.

“The sustainable marketing leverage is today one of the most important to attract tourists and investment,” said Giovanni Bozzetti, vice president Confindustria Cisambiente, chairman Ambienthesis.

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Proper garbage collection and processing, a fundamental pillar of a functioning city or state, serves as a signal to investors and helps attract tourists who don’t want to wade through rubbish on holiday. Bozzetti pointed to an Italian town with a garbage collection problem that saw a 20 percent drop in the number of tourists “because of the damage they have in terms of image”.

The UAE, specifically Dubai, relies on tourism to fuel its economy – the country derives around 12 percent of its gross domestic product from the travel and tourism sector.

“The public administration should work with universities and private companies to find the best solutions in environmental sustainability and the circular economy,” Bozzetti said at a panel on recycling in the Italian Pavilion at Dubai Expo 2020. “In this case, you’re able to attract more investment and more tourists.”

Bee’ah, the UAE’s Sharjah-based waste management company that began as a public private partnership, has its eyes peeled for more partnership opportunities.

“We have open arms for more opportunities,” Mohamed Al Hosani, CEO consultancy, research and innovation of Bee’ah Group, said at the panel.

Al Hosani added that Bee’ah is working to raise awareness as a key pillar of waste management and is looking for solutions that are culturally relevant.

Abu Dhabi alone generates about 940,000 tonnes of waste each month.

“We had experts come in from Canada and the US for one year, but our habits are different from Europe or Canada, so we have used the concept and we’ve adapted,” he said. “We know our habits when it comes to food or waste are different [than other countries].”

The UAE’s streets are nearly spotless, but waste remains a challenge. The capital Abu Dhabi alone generates about 940,000 tonnes of waste each month – almost the weight of two empty Burj Khalifas. And only about 30 percent of Abu Dhabi’s rubbish is recycled by Tadweer, formally known as the Abu Dhabi Waste Management Centre.

By this year, the emirate is aiming to recycle 75 percent of all items collected, making awareness integral.

“Awareness is as big a priority as treatment,” said Majed Saaed Al Marzouqi, head of recycling facilities section at Tadweer.

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