Corporates sustainability is modern way through which organizations ensure that their activities have long-term benefits to their shareholders and business environment. In this case, the business not only focuses on making profits, it also aims at ensuring that its community benefits from social, economic, and environmental developments. The Abu Dhabi City Municipality has been in the fore front in ensuring that developments in its municipal are done in a sustainable manner. In this regard, the municipal has been able to reduce its energy consumption by encouraging the use of solar. Similarly, it has been able to protect its shore line and beaches by using the Blue Flag program. The municipal’s activities have also had a direct positive impact among the public through the construction of affordable housing. Finally, the government has benefitted from the municipals efforts of ensuring that the government social, environmental, and economic policies are implemented in Abu Dhabi.
Corporate Sustainability: Abu Dhabi City Municipality
While traditional business growth concepts were established on the ideology of a strict profit-maximization model, under corporate sustainability, organizations should pursue their objectives of making profits while fulfilling societal goals. Accordingly, corporate sustainability espouses that a business can create long-term shareholder value by exploiting opportunities that arise from social, economic, and environmental development (Wilson, 2003). Therefore, although corporate sustainability makes an organization incur some short-term costs, it promotes positive social and environmental changes that can have long-term positive impacts. Armed with this information, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality has been in the forefront in corporate sustainability activities in the United Arab Emirates.
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality was established in 1962 (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). Back then, it was called the “Department of Abu Dhabi Municipality and Town Planning.” From 1969, the organization started providing services such as planning and developing the city, regulating the construction of roads, providing maintenance, lighting, and offering sewerage services. It also got the duty of establishing public markets. In 1969, it launched the Agriculture Development Plan in the Emirates (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). In 2005, it was decided that the Abu Dhabi City Municipality would be merged with Al Ain Municipality, Works Department, Agriculture and Animal Production Department of Al Ain into the Department of Municipalities and Agriculture to streamline the city’s services. However, this merger has not yet been completed.
The Executive Council of the Abu Dhabi City Municipality is headed by HH Sheikh Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Abu Dhabi Crown Prince, who was appointed in 2017. Currently, the Abu Dhabi Urban Planning Council is to be merged with the Department of Municipal Affairs to form the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). This change will ensure that the Abu Dhabi City Municipality, Al Ain Municipality, Al Dhafra Region Municipality, and any municipality that may be formed in the Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities are more efficient in the provision of infrastructure, planning, and transport services (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). It will also make the municipalities consolidate their development plans.
According to Gonzalez-Rodriguez, Diaz-Fernandez, and Simonetti (2012), the corporate sustainability is founded on three dimensions: environmental, social, and finance/economics that influence how an organization acts. The Abu Dhabi City Municipality approach of its activities based on environmental, social, and economic pillars, which have enabled it to achieve its desired goals that have, in turn, made it have many economic gains and positive reception by the public.
The environmental dimension considers an organization’s impact on the environment. In this regard, a responsible firm should not engage in activities that destroy the environment. In situations where the environment has already been negatively affected, organizations should rehabilitate the environment through activities such as reclaiming of deforested land or filling of mines. The economic dimensions of corporate social responsibility evaluate the impact of its organization’s activities on its financial performance (Wilson, 2003). An organization must ensure that it will continue to operate in the future by being diligent in its core activities, and also by eliminating cases of fraudulent dealings (Snell, Morris, & Bohlander, 2013). Finally, the social dimension considers the relationship between an organization and the society.
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality activities are always geared towards benefiting the community, besides enabling it achieve the primary goal of maximizing the interests of its stakeholders. The social dimensions of the municipality involve activities such as offering fair wages, engaging in fair trade, providing workers with a safe working environment, protecting the living and economic environment of Abu Dhabi’s residence, and participating in activities that benefit the society, such as fundraising (Uddin, Hassan, & Tarique, 2008). On the overall, these strategies always aim at contributing to the establishment of sustainable economic development, making desirable changes, and improving the social environment.
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality has placed significant efforts in the protection of the environment. The strict organization regulations that require individuals’ to protect their environment have enabled it to achieve ISO 14001. This global standard recognizes the municipality for its environmental management efforts. The Abu Dhabi City Municipality also replaced all its street lighting with environmental friendly light emitting diodes (LED) bulbs. It has also installed hydrants that are fitted with sensors to avoid the wastage of water. The municipal also requires all tall buildings to have solar panels on their rooftop, to minimize the use of non-environmental friendly sources of energy. These requirements have enabled the organization to receive an ISO 50001 certificate.
The economic dimensions of corporate social responsibility evaluate the impact of its activities on its financial performance. An organization must ensure that it will continue to operate in the future by being diligent in its core activities, and also by eliminating cases of fraudulent dealings (Snell, Morris, & Bohlander, 2013). Normally, organizations use both internal and external auditors to detect instances of errors and fraud in their books of account. The Abu Dhabi City Municipality employs highly educated graduates in its financial department. Additionally, it trains its current employees so that they can enhance their skills. Finally, the municipality has digitalized most of its process to reduce possibilities of corruption in the payment or tendering processes.
Evaluation and Interpretation
Role to the Government and the Public
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality is always responsible to the government by providing its services openly and legally. The organization has digitalized its systems to ensure that all legal fees are paid to the state by people seeking its services. This tactic has minimized the occurrence of corruption and possible levy and tax evasion. In particular, the municipal uses an i-Procurement system when it is making purchases. This method ensures that only competitive bidders win tenders (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). Additionally, it eliminates the possibilities of kickbacks and bribes.
The municipality also ensures that all suppliers have a valid commercial license and a Certificate of Chamber of Commerce and Industry. This procedure ensures that all cash paid by the municipality can be traced to the final recipient for the remittance of all legal charges (Hodgson, Al Neyadi, & Al Jabri, 2014). Also, the municipality cooperates with other government departments to enforce government laws and to ensure there is smooth running of government activities. For instance, it collaborates with the Aldhafra Region Municipality and Al Ain Municipality in the provision of government services.
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality has also placed significant efforts in the protection of the environment, which is in line with the UAE’s government policy. For example, the municipality is concerned about the 40-kilometer mangrove environment that protects its coastline and provides a safe and hospitable environment for marine life. The United Arab Emirates is a member of the Regional Conference of Plenipotentiaries on the Protection and Development of the Marine Environment that was established in 1979. This organization plays a significant role in creating policies on how to conserve the marine environment. It also formulates strategies for coping with the changes in the global climate. (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). Accordingly, the municipality is committed to contributing to the recovery of mangroves that have been damaged by developments. For example, the municipality has established policies that regulate the development of infrastructure in Abu Dhabi, especially near beaches, using the Blue Flag program.
Since the city has been experiencing a lot of developments, especially near its beaches, it has implemented policies of the Blue Flag criteria on its beaches. The Blue Flag criteria are requirements that enable a government to protect its beaches from pollution by requiring people to use its shorelines in an environmentally friendly manner (Eid, n.d.). On the same breath, the municipality requires people to use recyclable containers and to sort waste from all buildings to ensure ease in recycling. The organization also requires people to convert their vehicles from petrol or diesel to natural gas, since the latter is environmentally friendly. Similarly, in 2012, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality stated that it would establish the “Green Road” manual in 2013. This program aimed at enabling the city to design its roads in an environmentally friendly and sustainable manner. In particular, the “green road” standards would enable the municipality to significantly lower its construction costs, and reduce carbon dioxide emission by 30% (Ahmad, 2012).
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality has also established strict regulations, which require individuals’ to protect their environment. The municipality’s efforts have resulted in 10% of electricity used by the city’s buildings’ being generated from solar panels. The municipality also sends weekly notifications to its employees reminding them to shut down their computers and AC when they leave the office. Further, the Abu Dhabi Municipality requires its workers to use electronic systems of sending messages between departments to reduce the use of paper, which, in turn, enables it to conserve the environment. Finally, the municipality sensitizes its residence on the importance of conserving the environment by regularly conducting awareness campaigns.
Role to Other Stakeholders
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality is also accountable to all its stakeholders. Since it is a public institution, it mainly aims at ensuring the public and the government benefits from its operations. To the government, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality enables the United Arab Emirates government to establish its development goals by considering its views when creating its municipal’s strategies. In addition, it cooperates with other regional organizations such as the GCC countries in the protection of the Gulf environment. In 2017, for example, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality fostered cooperation between GCC countries and UAE in protecting the marine environment in the Arabian Gulf.
To the members of the public, the Abu Dhabi City Municipality ensures that its activities are open and transparent. For instance, the public sees any changes in the municipality’s organization structure by simply visiting its website. In addition, people can know when the municipal is recruiting by checking the careers section of the Abu Dhabi City Municipality portal. Similarly, people looking for tenders can see when new tenders are issued by checking the tenders section of the municipality’s website (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). Since the municipality does not discriminate, all members of the public have an equal opportunity of finding employment or supplies’ work with the organization.
Role to Employees
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality is also socially responsible to the welfare of its workers. Firstly, the municipality provides all its workers with competitive salaries. Additionally, it ensures that all its workers, as well as those working for its suppliers, are in a safe working environment. In this case, it ensures that these individuals have helmets, reflective jackets, safety boots, or any other appropriate clothing depending on the work being done (Eid, n.d.). For example, on August 8, 2017, Abu Dhabi City Municipality (ADM), in collaboration with LLH Hospital, had an initiative that targeted workers based at Al Mafraq Industrial Area, Abu Dhabi. In this event, a comprehensive medical screening and counselling was done all the workers. These individuals were also trained on how to maintain their head (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). Furthermore, the organization also provides training and professional development programs for its workers. Outstanding employees are always recognized and promoted in the organization. Finally, to ensure that its employees have a balance between work and their personal life, the organization gives them flexible work schedule (Eid, n.d). The workers are also allowed to leave early for humanitarian purposes, while female workers are allowed to go and feed their children.
Role to the Public
The Abu Dhabi City Municipality social concern on the public, who are also its customers, is shown by the quality of services that it offers. Notably, the organization continuously improves the quality of its services by integrating technology into its services. Currently, consumers can access most of the municipality’s services by simply login into its website. The municipal also participates in various humanitarian and communal initiatives. For example, in 2017, the organization participated in the “Year of Giving” initiative that had been declared by UAE’s president HH Sheikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017). This event aimed at encouraging children and students to have values of cooperation and teamwork.
Similarly, from 16, 17, 23, till 24 November 2017, The Abu Dhabi City Municipality, in cooperation with Khalifa Foundation for Humanitarian Works, Abu Dhabi Tourism and Culture Department, local business leaders, Khalifa Fund for Enterprise Development, will organize a charity called the “Weekend Market.” This event will aim at involving the local community in spreading education and recreational activities. The municipality will also offer other activities and programs such as children’s games, provide medical checkups, and open the Bahya Park Library (Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities, 2017).
Another social problem that the Abu Dhabi City Municipality has solved for the community is on housing. In August 2017, the Department of Municipal Affairs and Transport – Abu Dhabi City Municipality (ADM) rolled out an initiative that aims at developing affordable houses for fixed income earners (Sebugwaawo, 2017). This move will enable the municipal to provide sustainable accommodation for low income earners in Abu Dhabi.
Overall, the corporate sustainability measures undertaken by the Abu Dhabi City Municipality have improved the quality of life of the residents of Abu Dhabi since they have made them have a safe and healthy environment. In particular, the municipality is socially responsible by safeguarding the interests of the government, its employees, consumers, and other stakeholders such as the GCC countries. Notably, it ensures that all government levies and records are filed through its portal. The municipality also offers high-quality services to its clients, and it partners with GCC countries to protect the environment. Finally, it provides a safe and stable employment for its workers.
Ahmad, A. (2012). Abu Dhabi municipality takes road to a greener environment. Retrieved from https://www.thenational.ae/uae/environment/abu-dhabi-municipality-takes-road-to-a-greener-environment-1.355800.
Department of Urban Planning and Municipalities. (2017). Municipal System Portal – Emirate of Abu Dhabi. Retrieved from https://dmat.abudhabi.ae/en/ADM/Tenders/Pages/supplier_registration.aspx.
Eid, E. (n.d.) CSR application in the Municipality of Abu Dhabi City. A Magazine for the Environmental Centers for Arab Towns, 1-1.
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Sebugwaawo, I. (2017). Abu Dhabi to provide high quality houses for low income workers. Retrieved from https://www.khaleejtimes.com/news/abu-dhabi-to-provide-high-quality-houses-for-low-income-workers.
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Uddin, M., Hassan, R., & Tarique, K. (2008). Three dimensional aspects of corporate social responsibility. Daffodil International University Journal of Business and Economics, 3(1), 199-213.
Wilson, M. (2003). Corporate sustainability: What is it and where does it come from? Ivey Business Journal, (March/April 2003). Retrieved from https://iveybusinessjournal.com/publication/corporate-sustainability-what-is-it-and-where-does-it-come-from/.