Pioneering Sustainable Technologies and Nature-based Solutions for Carbon Sequestration


Dake Rechsand, a prominent leader in sustainable technologies and nature-based solutions, has set an impressive standard for climate action and sustainable development through its Verra-listed program. With a commitment to innovation, the company has spearheaded revolutionary solutions in water conservation and sustainable farming. In a landmark initiative, Dake Rechsand launched a carbon sequestration program, encompassing 11 million trees in the GCC region, which has been officially listed on VERRA.

In this exclusive interview, we delve into Chandra Dake’s visionary approach to addressing the diverse facets of sustainability. As the CEO of Dake Rechsand, he offers invaluable insights into the company’s groundbreaking initiatives, their impact on climate action, and the transformative potential of their interdisciplinary solutions.

What makes a tech-driven approach to climate actions different from conventional practices? What are the hallmarks of such an approach?

A tech-driven approach induces accountability, transparency, and measurability into climate actions — something conventional practices have largely failed at. Without transparent climate actions, stakeholders are susceptible to “carbon tunnel vision”, a phenomenon where they solely strive for net-zero emissions while ignoring other sustainable development goals. Tech posits “systems thinking”, promoting comprehensive approaches that factor in how different constituents of the complex climate issue interact.

Dake Rechsand exemplifies this approach with its Verra-listed carbon sequestration project, which uses the CDM methodology and other cutting-edge technologies to measure the impact and select plant species suited for UAE’s desert conditions. The project, part of the company’s innovative ‘Ghaba’ afforestation initiative, aims to plant 11 million trees in arid regions, particularly the Middle East. The initiative hopes to overcome tree-planting challenges — high soil salinity, evaporation, seepage, and excessive irrigation requirements — in deserts using the patented Breathable Sand technology.

Furthermore, Dake Rechsand has aligned the ‘Ghaba’ initiative with, and voiced its support for, the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment’s (MOCCAE) Climate Responsible Companies Pledge aimed at mobilizing stakeholders across sectors towards the common cause of Net-zero 2050. MOCCAE’s initiative underscores the need for concerted and measurable efforts from all stakeholders in the public and private sectors and, by extension, promotes a tech-driven approach to climate actions.

The upcoming COP28, while holding global relevance, shines the spotlight on climate-change effects that are more specific to the region. What, according to you, are the issues that need immediate attention?

The region’s climate has always been arid, with scarce water resources and less-than-favourable conditions for agriculture. Climate change has not only aggravated those challenges but also created new ones, including erratic precipitation and floods. As the MENA region has not historically experienced heavy rainfall, the existing stormwater drainage infrastructure is under-equipped to handle excessive runoff. This issue has become increasingly evident in recent years, with countries such as Egypt, Yemen, and Oman witnessing recurring floods.

These events underscore the pressing need for climate adaptation measures alongside mitigation efforts. Technologies serving both these objectives in a single application are particularly desirable. Such interdisciplinary, dual-purpose solutions must be prioritized, not just in MENA, but across the world. They will not only address immediate challenges but also build resilience for the future. At COP28, it is crucial to highlight the issues, stimulate discussions around them, and advocate for the development and deployment of solutions that hold utility in the context of both climate adaptation and mitigation.

Through use cases, explain how interdisciplinary technologies can measurably and positively contribute to UAE’s Net-zero 2050 and sustainability goals.

Interdisciplinary technologies at the nexus of water, energy, and food (WEF) are particularly relevant for UAE’s Net-zero 2050 and sustainability goals. Sectors like agriculture account for disproportionately high water consumption, increasing dependence on carbon-intensive processes such as desalination. And excessive dependence on desalination is counterproductive to net-zero emissions. So, the agriculture sector demands efficiency-driven interventions through interdisciplinary technologies like Breathable Sand.

Breathable Sand, with its selective permeability and retention properties, allows an optimal supply of air and water to the plant and supports ideal growth. On average, it can reduce irrigation by up to 80% while providing optimal yield. So, it has implications for agricultural productivity and, by extension, food security — all while being environmentally responsible, widely accessible, and cost-effective. Cumulatively, with widespread adoption, Breathable Sand can reduce agricultural water footprint, enhance food security, and support the UAE’s journey towards net-zero emissions — characteristic of an interdisciplinary solution.

The potential of this technology extends beyond agriculture. Breathable Sand can form the basis for ‘Sponge Cities’, a carbon-friendly urban design that imparts decentralized rainwater harvesting into public areas such as roads, playgrounds, and parking lots. By capturing, storing, and recycling rainwater, it alleviates floods (adaptation) and reduces the need for carbon-intensive desalination (mitigation). So, Sponge City can contribute to UAE’s water security and Net-zero 2050, qualifying as an interdisciplinary solution.

Provide real-life examples and practical applications of the above-mentioned climate technologies and their positive impact in the context of GCC. Cite case studies, published journals, and evidence-based research, if any.

The adoption of Breathable Sand technology has yielded transformative results in GCC. For example, at Al Ajban Farms, mango, lemon, and orange orchards planted using the technology have shown impressive survival rates with significantly reduced irrigation. In a green drive in Ras Al-Khaimah, Ghaf trees — a species native to the arid regions of the UAE — were successfully transplanted using Breathable Sand. That was a remarkable feat because Ghaf is susceptible to “transplant shock”. As a testament to Breathable Sand’s revolutionary potential, it featured in FAO’s special report(1) on practical solutions for salt-affected soils and the ‘Green Technology Book – 2022′(2) released on the back of COP27.

The abundance of desert areas in the GCC offers an immense opportunity for greening initiatives using Breathable Sand, just as sprawling urban centres do for Sponge Cities. By promoting regenerative woodland ecosystems such as food forests and agroforestry, stakeholders can restore biodiversity, enable biological carbon sequestration, and ramp up climate mitigation. At the same time, the solution offers sustainable pathways to food and water security — issues of great consequence in GCC.