SDG 11: Great pioneering spirit Masdar City

Earlier this year EMG Dubai team visited Masdar City, one the most sustainable cities on the planet. Masdar City is an example of great pioneering in designing an utterly sustainable environment. Situated 17 kilometres south-east of Abu Dhabi, in the United Arab Emirates, and with an area of 6 square kilometres, the city is exclusively powered by green energy sources – primarily solar energy – and is therefore a ‘greenprint’ for sustainable cities globally. Masdar City has a 10-megawatt solar photovoltaic plant and an array of building-mounted solar panels which produce nearly all the electricity required. Hence it has an extremely small carbon footprint, without a single light switch or water tap; all lighting and water supplies are activated using motion sensors in order to allow functioning to be as sustainable as possible.

This measure alone saves about 50% of typical electricity and water consumption levels. 80% of all water used in Masdar City is reused as many times as possible – after which it is finally used for crop irrigation. The World Wide Fund for Nature (WWF) and the sustainability group BioRegional have endorsed Masdar City as an official One Planet Living Community.

The Masdar City project
The Masdar City project was led by Masdar, a subsidiary of Mubadala, a national investment company in Abu Dhabi which can be seen as the national reserve. The plans for making this ultra-sustainable community were initiated in 2006, with construction starting in 2008. The cost of the project is anticipated to reach US$18-22 billion. The city is intended to be home to 45,000 – 50,000 people and to accommodate 1,500 businesses, the majority of which are commercial and manufacturing facilities specialising in environmentally-friendly products. Businesses with offices in Masdar City include Siemens, Mitsubishi, GE, and IRENA (the International Renewable Energy Agency). Furthermore, the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology has already produced 600 graduates in both PhD and Master’s degrees.

Survey among 5,000 people
Last year, Masdar carried out a survey among 5,000 people worldwide aged 18 – 25 on what they considered to be major challenges for the future. The findings, which were announced at the UN Climate Change Conference of Parties (COP22) in Morocco, revealed that as many as 40% considered climate change to be among the greatest challenges facing the world in the next decade. Almost two in three people surveyed stated that they would be interested in working or studying in an area related to sustainability.

As a sustainability consultancy, we have great respect for the great pioneering spirit demonstrated by Masdar with Masdar City, and its great achievements to date. The city is a true symbol of sustainable innovation, and we hope that it will serve as a great inspiration for many worldwide to follow this lead.