Communicating energy sustainability through the „My Energy My Responsibility“ campaign in Dubai

I must have earned some good karma to have gotten lucky with timing here! The next stop on the journey towards a masters degree in sustainability at the University of Cambridge required writing a blog post on sustainability and communications through an example of a campaign that incorporates sustainability outcomes. Such a request came at a nearly exact time when the Dubai Supreme Council of Energy (DSCE) where I’m proud to be working, is looking back at achievements in 2018, an important part of which is the exact sort of „conversation with society“ required for this small article – the launch of an Emirate-level campaign that emphasizes the importance of the story of energy efficiency in Dubai, applied to everyday life of each resident and visitor.

As some of the readers here might remember from my student-led knowledge sharing session from the last workshop, building on the previous ambitions in enhancing itself, Dubai government established the Supreme Council of Energy, which shortly thereafter created the strategic and policy framework aligned with the roadmap towards a sustainable energy sector for the Emirate.

On this journey, the Demand Side Management Strategy plays a major role. Execution of this Strategy is what I’m directly involved in from the side of the custodian of the strategy which is the DSCE. The Strategy sets the target of 30% savings in electricity and water consumption by 2030, and integrates actions aimed at decarbonizing Dubai. The innovation at the time the Strategy was adopted (2011) was that it packaged together over different initiatives into 8 core programs with multiple implementation mechanisms, as shown in the following graphic:

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With the programs performing in line with annual savings targets and implementation mechanisms supporting efforts in programs, behavioral change of all residents and citizens became a clear area of focus in past 2 years. Up until then, government departments were running their own awareness programs on various aspects of energy efficiency. We wanted to integrate these actions into one platform, which would be both clearer to the end audience (one voice vs. many), and be more efficient from the position of use of government resources (no need for each entity to waste resources on same tasks in launching different campaigns). Expanding on these and other observations gathered since start of the implementation of the DSM Strategy, and supported by the office of the Dubai Energy Efficiency Program called Taqati (meaning „My Energy“ in Arabic), the Integrated Awareness Strategy 2022 was developed as a key enabler for the DSM Strategy with 5 categories of initiatives:

  • A public awareness campaign (the „My Energy My Responsibility“ campaign)
  • Networking events & activities (conferences and workshop)
  • Development and publishing of technical resources in form of guidebooks for energy management
  • Sector specific awards & recognition programme
  • Marketing & outreach actions (development of websites, apps and promotional handouts)

For each program of the DSM Strategy, a survey was conducted to measure the baseline awareness of DSM programs by the end consumers of electricity and water, as well as their willingness to respond to changes the programs aimed to achieve. With some programs ahead and some yet to reach widespread awareness or participation, the targets were set for a 5 year period.

The My Energy My Responsibility Campaign aimed to encourage and support Dubai residents and visitors to adopt energy efficient practices and behaviors, bring the government’s energy efficiency campaigns under one umbrella and provide a unified voice and consistent messages on energy efficiency in Dubai.

Some examples of created materials, all specific to biggest potential savings specific for Dubai’s building stock and climate throughout the year can be seen here:

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Results of the campaign so far:

  • Active participation from multiple government departments and government-owned companies (i.e. Dubai Airports, Emirates National Oil Company…)
  • Since launch in Max 2018, total reach across all programs and campaigns exceeds 6 million views
  • Printable materials are being distributed through customer care (we call them customer happiness) centers across the Emirate
  • Social media campaign is ongoing on a daily basis, with Instagram, Twitter and Facebook posts re-shared by government departments
  • Ongoing annual campaigns such as World Energy Day, Earth Hour and similar are including the campaign in its promotional materials

Some examples of partner contributions:

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The campaign, as well as the Awareness and DSM Strategies are also actively being promoted in relevant conferences, workshops, seminars, media releases and social media discussions – as well as, as of now, in the small student community of the University of Cambridge / CISL master degree in sustainability leadership candidates 🙂

The awareness initiatives are well on their way to achieve set targets on awareness and willingness to participate, and yours truly is sure that future enhancements that we gathered from our sustainability coursework will come useful very soon – especially the use of behavioral insights gathered from ongoing actions, aspects of the Nudge theory and integrating efforts with local NGOs and transnational advocacy networks present in Dubai and UAE, who are already promoting very similar messages.

4 thoughts on “Communicating energy sustainability through the „My Energy My Responsibility“ campaign in Dubai

  1. Hi Luka – as always I look forward to your posts and this is one is no exception. Thanks for sharing your insights (and lucky you to have it timed well with all your other work). I really like the practical suggestions that are being made within the campaign which can provide some direction to consumers of these utilities as to what might be best practice to help the environment. I’m curious to know whether there has been some thought about checking in with some of the consumers in say 3 / 6 / 9 / 12 months to see if they remember the campaign and whether their behaviours continue to be changed or have they reverted back to their previous choices ? In the design of the campaign was it also considered to go direct to households / children so that when in the home environment the reinforcement of behaviours could be supported further ? I had a little laugh at one of the actions where printed materials have been distributed……do you think we ever could run a successful sustainability campaign that doesn’t use printing ? I haven’t seen one as yet but surely that must be a long term desire to get the messages to consumers without having to use electricity / ink / paper to communicate the message. In the workplace health & safety area I’ve used a ‘My Safety Plan’ where I’ve made written personal commitments to working safely (including outside of work) and this is then displayed in my office for others to help hold me to my commitments. Do you think something like this would work in conjunction with the campaign ? Cheers

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Hi Luka,

    very interesting post, thank you! I’m always happy to hear what progresses Dubai is making on energy effiency!
    I also created and implemented a communication plan for energy conservation in New Caledonia.
    We wrote some booklets to distribute at schools and town halls. We also did an advertising campaign on TV and printed lots of posters a bit like Dubai ones.
    It’s seems an easy job but it’s actually challenging to reduce the message to something understandable, short and positive, i.e meaning that people can take action and spread the word around them.

    As we saw during the course, it is important to target different types of public: the ones who think about the future of the planet, as well as the ones who’d rather think of their wallet.
    This is why I enjoyed looking at the posters created in Dubai.We are all part of a big puzzle!

    I don’t think it is a problem in Dubai, but for me, a difficult message to convey was the one of buying more expensive electrical appliances in order to reduce energy consumption. It was particularly difficult when going to remote villages or areas where poor people used to live.
    Those people also wanted to give up solar energy appliances because they could not rely on it.

    It makes communication a bit tricky but with experience, we will solve this problem!

    Bravo anyway for all those steps forward!

    Like

  3. Thanks for sharing this story Luka. I really like the engagement in this campaign and the material you show here.
    I think when it comes to saving energy and water in households there is so much more that can be done about informing people about their consumption. People should be able to more easily connect actions and results and get more sense for the numbers. The meters are in most cases somewhere hidden in the garage, basement or other places where it is not easily accessible. At least based on my experience in the places I have lived, not sure how it is in Dubai.

    If it would be made easier to monitor your consumption, such as by installing smart meters, you could monitor your water/energy use in your phone one would probably get more sense for it, and connect better to what is causing a surge in use such as long showers or cooking.
    The “smart home“ equipment that has been entering the market for the past few years could also be of help. Such as by using geolocation for smart heating/cooling systems. It lowers the use when you leave home for work and when it sees you are on your way home later in the day it starts it up again.

    Like

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