13 JAN 2017

Seva Karpauskaite Time to Accelerate Innovation and Action

As this year’s winner of Masdar’s Engage Global Competition, I am excited to have this unique opportunity to attend thelargest gathering on sustainability in the Middle East as a guest blogger and social media influencer. During Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), I look forward to participating in and covering a series of exciting events, exhibitions and conferences, including the Global Action Day, the World Future Energy Summit, the International Water Summit and, of course, a visit to Masdar City.

I entered the contest because I am passionate about sustainability and climate. I come from a small country, Lithuania, that is vulnerable to climate change’s impacts. After I finish my master’s, my goal is to become an advocate for sustainable development and environmental protection by making the business case for clean technologies. Studying Energy, Resources and Environment at SAIS, Johns Hopkins University has enabled me to hone my theoretical knowledge on diverse energy and environmental issues. To that end, diving into ADSW will integrate me within the global community as it debates and addresses the most pressing issues related to climate change, at a time of uncertainty in the global energy landscape.

Here are the facts: there are two certainties regarding the phenomenon of climate change. First, the science makes clear that it has already started - and, indeed, it is mind-boggling. One of my goals during ADSW is to highlight the borderless and multidimensional nature of this complex issue. I strongly believe that all of us need to reframe and broaden our understanding of climate change.

While we can clearly grasp the science behind global warming, I cannot emphasize enough that it is also a global security threat, exacerbates inequality and also is detrimental to sustainable development.

So let’s pursue a two-pronged approach: innovation and action. The development and deployment of the physical capital based on scientific research and technological innovation is crucial. So is the growth of social capital, catalyzed by reaching a global consensus that can be transformed into collective action.

We already see encouraging signs that community building is underway. For example, Masdar’s Gen Z sustainability survey revealed that young people see climate change as the biggest threat to the world over the next 10 years and that they seek to be proactive in ensuring a more sustainable future. The next step is engagement: channelling their passion for activism into opportunities to advance sustainable development. ADSW events like the Student Exclusive offer a platform for such youth-industry cooperation, so I am keen to meet youth from the UAE and worldwide who are also passionate about the issue.

Greater awareness is the crucial next step. The fact is that global leaders and institutions have historically focused their work on climate science and economics. Consequentially, we have significantly advanced in our technical ability to address sustainability issues. In some parts of the world, including the UAE, solar is price-competitive with electricity from conventional sources; cities are implementing smart & sustainable solutions to boost their infrastructure; clean technology R&D is creating new business opportunities for start-ups and corporates alike. Nevertheless, the world must accelerate implementation of renewable and sustainable technologies. We must find new ways to narrow this chasm between ability and action to shape and spread knowledge of sustainability issues that engage and empower.

Women represent one of the key stakeholders that exemplify the need for a more nuanced understanding of global warming. We are greatly underrepresented in climate change science, negotiations, policy-making and adaptation efforts. Yet women, especially poor women, are also disproportionately affected by climate change. Strengthening our capacity to deal with climate change relies on grasping the intersection between gender and climate change. We must acknowledge the impact that global warming has on women, and strive to inspire them to become powerful agents whose knowledge, innovation and skills play a bigger role in the climate change crisis. That’s why I’m keen to attend and report from the Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) event at ADSW.

I’m grateful to be included within this week-long conversation, which promotes cooperation and innovation as the next ten years are crucial to harness climate change risks and transform them into opportunities. I am thrilled to be part of the dialogue and cooperation that sparks the development of the financial and social capital necessary as we shift towards a more sustainable world. Follow me on Instagram, and Snapchat for daily musings, happenings and snapshots from ADSW 2017! Also, track my journey with the hashtags #WorldIn2026 and #ADSW2017.

15 JAN 2017

Atlantic Councils Global Energy Forum Brings a Fast Start to ADSW 2017

For the first time, the Atlantic Council held its annual Global Energy Forum in Abu Dhabi. And quite frankly, there was no better place to discuss geo-economics, energy trends, the U.S. election and its affect on energy markets than this two-day forum that is wrapping up today in Abu Dhabi. At 10:00 a.m. yesterday, this event kicked-off the Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2017, the Middle East’s largest sustainability gathering, which is hosted by Masdar.

Several high-level policy discussions included perspectives from H.E. Khalid Al-Falih, Saudi Arabia’s Minister of Energy; H.E. Dr Sultan Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of Masdar; H.E. Suhail Al Mazrouei, UAE Minister of Energy; and former Utah governor Jon M. Huntsman, who is Chairman of the Atlantic Council - some of whom the staff at Masdar has had the pleasure to interact or work with. The meeting of this minds strengthens Abu Dhabi’s reputation as a global energy hub.

Sure, this country has long been a leader in hydrocarbons; but over the last several years, the UAE has emerged as a major player within the world’s renewable energy sector. Through projects including those funded by the Abu Dhabi Fund for Development and implemented by Masdar, some of the world’s most remote nations have embarked on a path towards securing more secure and safer energy for their citizens. Meanwhile, more countries are investing in offshore wind and massive solar projects as they have become proven to become more efficient and cost effective in recent years. And all this is happening at a time when oil prices have been very low. But that could change at any time. As Fatih Birol, Executive Director of the International Agency told the Global Energy Forum audience, “We are entering a time of oil price volatility.” Mr. Birol surmised that declining oil industry investment could actually lead to greater oil prices soon. In any event, more governments and businesses are making the decision to invest in renewables so that they can stabilize energy prices; and that in turn, these trends could only make these sources of energy more price-competitive in the long run. In sum, it was a dynamic gathering of leaders and professionals, with a diverse point of view, who attended this event on Abu Dhabi’s Al Maryah Island.

And it was the perfect launch for ADSW 2017, where once again civil society, corporates and government leaders are exchanging ideas and making deals to advance the cause of clean energy and technology solutions.

14 JAN 2017

ADSW and Festival at Masdar City Come to the Corniche

It’s been a weekend of family fun on the Abu Dhabi Corniche, as Masdar and Abu Dhabi Municipality teamed up to bring ADSW and Festival at Masdar City to local residents. The past two nights, children have been treated to an activation, or sneak preview, of what’s in store for the 20-21 January Festival at Masdar City. On the East Plaza, where Khallej Al Arabi and Corniche Steets meet, a large Masdar booth greeted guests who were strolling upon the Corniche.

Children can color and design t-shirts with sustainability messages; or have a smoothie, which they would mix themselves by peddling on a stationary bicycle; or assemble, and then race, a model solar-powered car while they learn the basics of renewable energy. Younger children also had a corner where they could color and draw images of solar panels and wind mills. “I’m so glad we came by during our walk this evening,” said Nigel, a United Kingdom national who has lived with his family in Abu Dhabi for three years. “I’ve heard the adverts on radio and have seen some signs, but having this area right in the middle of the Corniche ended up making this an even nicer evening for us.

Now we definitely are keen come to Masdar City next weekend and explore the Festival.” The activation at Masdar City has its final evening tomorrow, 14 January, from 4:00 p.m. to 10:00 p.m. Festival at Masdar City will occur Friday, 20 January, from 10:00 a.m. to 10:00 p.m., and Saturday, 21 January, from 10:00 a.m. to 8:00 p.m. Activities include a do-it-yourself crafts zone, arcades and carnival games, a bazaar selling foods and handicrafts, science experiments as well as arts and entertainment. We look forward to hosting you there!

13 JAN 2017

Masdar Announces Fifth Annual ‘Engage’ Social Media Contest Winner

130 entries from more than 40 nations discussed the most critical solutions to mitigate climate change risks over the next decade

Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, has announced the winner of its fifth annual Engage Social Media Contest.

This year’s contest received 130 entries, a record level of participation in the five years of this competition, with submissions coming from 45 nations across six continents. For the first time, the contest welcomed submissions in formats other than blogging posts, which led to entries that included videos, slideshows and Tumblr updates.

The theme of this year’s Engage Social Media Contest challenged participants to make a case for the solutions that, in their view, could be most effective in mitigating climate change risks over the next decade. The goal of the contest was to connect the momentum gained from the November COP22 climate talks in Marrakech, Morocco with the enthusiasm building for the annual Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week, which launched on 12 January.

Conclusions drawn from Masdar’s recent GenZ Global Sustainability survey also shaped this year’s theme, as the survey’s results found that global citizens aged 18 – 25 believed that climate change posed the greatest challenges to their future security and prosperity. Contestants were encouraged to debate their opinions within the Engage site, as well on social media platforms, using the hashtag #WorldIn2026.

This year’s winning post was submitted by Seva Karpauskaite of Kaunus, Lithuania. Her video, filmed with iconic Washington, DC monuments as a backdrop, explored the need to develop green financing structures that would allow clean technologies to expand and scale in order to reduce climate change risks over the next decade.

Ms. Karpauskaite is the first European and second woman to win the contest. A graduate of King’s College at Cambridge University, Ms. Karpauskaite completed her bachelor’s degree in politics, psychology and sociology. Currently she is continuing her studies at the School of International Studies at Johns Hopkins University in Washington, DC, where she is pursuing a master’s degree in International Economics and International Politics with a focus on Energy, Resources and Environment. Amongst Ms. Karpauskaite’s long-term goals is to combine theoretical insights with practical experience into a future career in sustainability advocacy and consulting.

As the winner of this year’s Engage competition, Ms. Karpauskaite will be Masdar’s VIP social media influencer at the 2017 Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW), which this year runs from January 12th – 21st.

“We’re very pleased to see the record level of participation this year’s Engage Contest generated,” said Masdar’s Anca Westley, Director of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. “At a time when Masdar’s recent GenZ Youth Survey showed just how passionate young citizens worldwide are about addressing climate change, the contest raised many ideas of how society can ensure sustainable development over the next 10 years. We at Masdar were impressed with the wide range of opinions, as well as the high level of discussion that has continued on social media.

“The enthusiasm shared by both the contest’s participants and readers showed just how important this topic is to people around the world. The volume of comments on many of the postings, and the ongoing conversation on social media, revealed the many challenges and opportunities that lie ahead in the next decade. And as a segue into the events that will soon launch during ADSW, this discussion enhances the event’s reputation as one where solutions can be found to accelerate the deployment of renewable energy and sustainable technologies. The contest served an important purpose: to help build excitement for the coming week, and showcase why Abu Dhabi has become a leading global energy hub.”

During this year’s ADSW, the Middle East’s largest gathering on sustainability, Ms. Karpauskaite will have the opportunity to cover the event’s official Opening Ceremony and Global Action Day. Ms. Karpauskaite will also report on the tenth World Future Energy Summit, the ninth Zayed Future Energy Prize Awards Ceremony, the fifth International Water Summit, the fourth annual EcoWaste Summit, the second Women in Sustainability, Environment and Renewable Energy (WiSER) side event, the second Student Exclusive event, and the first Global Energy Forum, in addition to other ADSW activities.

The contest’s runners-up were offered a complimentary pass for ADSW, which included access to all of the conference’s events. The participants who were also considered as the contest’s finalists were:

  • Evan Rankin, USA
  • Girish Shivakumar, India
  • Samuel Stephens, United Kingdom
  • Mark Bessoudo, Canada
  • Lenka Kollar, USA

This year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is projected to gather more than 37,000 participants from 170 countries, including global decision makers in research, policy, industry and finance, to address the interconnected challenges and opportunities of sustainable development, renewable energy and water security.