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Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi Strengthens its Emergency Management Strategy, Launches Emergency Operations Centre

April 14, 2013



In line with the United Arab Emirates' (UAE) strategy for emergency preparedness, the Environment Agency - Abu Dhabi (EAD) officially unveiled today its Emergency Operations Centre (EOC). The EOC was inaugurated by: H.E. Mohammad Ahmad Al Bowardi, Chairman of the Executive Committee, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Managing Director of EAD, H.E. Major General Obaid Al Hairi Salem Al Ketbi, Deputy General Commander of Abu Dhabi Police, Head of the Crisis and Disaster Management Committee and member of the Executive Council; H.E Razan Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD and; H.E Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Director General of National Emergency Crisis and Disaster Management Authority (NCEMA).

The EOC will see EAD be the mandated scientific advisory entity working with UAE government authorities on all environmentally-related crises occurring in the Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Supported by an EAD Emergency Management Plan, the EOC will also serve as a training centre to build emergency response capacities among EAD staff.

EAD's role at times of crises involves situation and risk analysis, scenario planning, advice to executive emergency authorities, potential on-site crisis inspection, and direct line communication with key stakeholders. EAD's successful track record of crisis management in collaboration with governmental counterparts - such as NCEMA - will now be fortified with the introduction of the EOC.

H.E. Major General Obaid Al Hairi Salem Al Ketbi, Head of the Crisis and Disaster Management Committee said: "The key to our success lies in collaboration and sound communication; these two factors play a central role when it comes time for us to respond to crises, especially when several entities need to be involved. I am proud that a local entity is today publically unveiling its world-class emergency operations centre that will undoubtedly further strengthen our nation's overall level of crisis preparedness. This centre will aim to add value to EAD's own emergency management plan, and will also benefit the Committee's operations by housing a centre that will enhance our key operational focus - which is seamless partner coordination. I applaud the fact that EAD will use the centre to build national capabilities in crisis management as it looks to train teams to respond to environmental crises - an investment that will surely serve the protection and wellbeing of this nation in the long term."

H.E Razan Khalifa Al Mubarak, Secretary General of EAD, said: "With a dedicated Emergency Operations Centre, we have now strengthened our commitment towards contributing to the UAE Crisis and Disaster Management Committee's National Response Plan. By launching our own EOC, we are ensuring that we fulfil our obligation towards protecting the environment, our biodiversity and the wellbeing of the people of Abu Dhabi Emirate."

The Centre has been custom-designed to suit the needs of EAD's scientific, operational and logistical experts who need to work with stakeholders during crises. Endorsed by NCEMA, the EOC will allow for the entities to arrive at the best objectives, priorities, response and recovery for the environment impacted or under threat. As a sign of EAD's commitment to these relationships, it will be making the Emergency Operations Centre available for their use should the need arise.

H.E Al Mubarak continued: "The Centre enhances time efficiency in data analysis, allowing us to better communicate with our stakeholders at times of crisis - when every minute counts. We are proud to have a Centre that will allow us to work seamlessly with the Crisis and Disaster Management Committee, NCEMA and our other stakeholders to further enhance the Emirate's overall crisis preparedness."

H.E Mohammed Khalfan Al Rumaithi, Director General of NCEMA, added: "An emergency involves the mobilization and coordination of several stakeholders. A response requires the presence of fundamental elements - primarily planning, preparedness and the necessary expertise and techniques - to be able mitigate the impact on lives and property. The role of EAD's EOC is comprehensive and crucial. I am sure that we can count on the Centre's capacity to ensure a speedy response and an effective intervention, wherever and whenever required, in order to preserve and protect our environment."

The EOC has been strategically outfitted to facilitate more time-efficient and consolidated processes during times of crisis. It features a conference room, an operations room and a planning area. All three compartments are fully equipped with state-of-the-art communications technology, designated work areas for experts, data computing devices for information received from both in-house crisis management teams and on-field representatives. The conferencing technology enables for real time communication with stakeholders and real-time feed from onsite crises personnel, allowing for more consolidated, timely, crisis response efforts.

Jim Walker, CEO of Altor Risk Group and EOC consultant added: "It's easy to say that people and the environment need to be put first, but words are useless without action. Locally here in the UAE, sophisticated environmental legislation has been proclaimed; there is a clear move toward consistency across the federation, and the task of putting into practice what is enshrined in such laws, backed up by monitoring and strict enforcement. In order to be effective, a response capability must be based on solid plans which relate to the risk, decent facilities and technology, with the right people properly trained and exercised."

Besides its role as a strategic emergency management centre, the EOC will allow EAD to better train its staff, building their holistic emergency environment response capacities. Outlined as a priority for 2013, EAD aims to select and train its emergency team for contingency planning purposes. Moreover, it will also make the EOC available to external stakeholders for emergency response training at the Emirate level to further build capacity.

H.E Al Mubarak concluded: "Building human capabilities plays an integral role to emergency preparedness, management and execution. Besides having the right technology in place, we aim to ensure that we have trained professionals who can step in for additional support when needed."

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