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Second annual Student Exclusive gives youth a voice on sustainability

By / 19/01/2017

UAE and international students gather for talks, performances and presentations at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2017

Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates; January 19, 2017 – More than 600 students from the UAE and countries around the world took part in the second annual “Student Exclusive” at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) on Wednesday. Now a signature event of ADSW, the Student Exclusive is focused on empowering young people to think and act sustainably.

His Excellency Dr Ahmed Belhoul, Minister of State for Higher Education, delivered the event’s keynote address, describing the Student Exclusive as integral to the success of ADSW.

“The culture of the UAE is based on sustainability. If you go back 100 years, people only consumed what they required; they only used what they needed. But today, we are all guilty of consumption that is not very responsible. The government is trying to help us by raising awareness, and by investing in renewable energy resources. But regardless of what we do as the government, a culture of sustainability needs to be embedded in you, our young people. You are the future, and sustainability starts with you.”

“When Masdar was established a decade ago, the UAE leadership wanted to create a company that would invest in renewable energy, but we cannot do that without human resources,” HE Dr Belhoul added. “So we took the decision to establish a holistic ecosystem, by not only creating Masdar but also the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. We are proud today to see the achievements of both Masdar and Masdar Institute, which are empowering our best young talent.”

Commenting on the success of the Student Exclusive, Dr Nawal Al Hosany, Executive Director of Sustainability and Brand at Masdar, Abu Dhabi’s renewable energy company, also stressed the need for young people to take responsibility.

“The Student Exclusive is a platform that puts youth opinions at its core,” she said. “If we can empower young people to see how sustainability affects every aspect of their lives, then we can also empower them to be future advocates of sustainability.”

This year’s Student Exclusive was held on the theme “Creating a sustainable future by empowering young minds”.

“The culture of the UAE is based on sustainability. If you go back 100 years, people only consumed what they required; they only used what they needed. But today, we are all guilty of consumption that is not very responsible. The government is trying to help us by raising awareness, and by investing in renewable energy resources. But regardless of what we do as the government, a culture of sustainability needs to be embedded in you, our young people. You are the future, and sustainability starts with you.”

“When Masdar was established a decade ago, the UAE leadership wanted to create a company that would invest in renewable energy, but we cannot do that without human resources,” HE Dr Belhoul added. “So we took the decision to establish a holistic ecosystem by not only creating Masdar but also the Masdar Institute of Science and Technology. We are proud today to see the achievements of both Masdar and Masdar Institute, which are empowering our best young talent.”

Moderated by Khalid Al Ameri, a prominent UAE national journalist and social media influencer, and fellow Emirati Waheeda Al Hadhrami, Creative Talent Developer at TwoFour54, this year’s event hosted a diversity of young talent, who shared their own distinct perspective on adopting sustainable behaviour.

The Student Exclusive welcomed calligrapher Diaa Allam, pianist Mona Alhashmi, futurist Lina Nahhas, musicians “G-beat”, parkour coach Amal Murad, artist Hessa Al Ajmani, and singer Khalifa Nasser.

Hasan Al Redaini, the UAE’s representative to Solar Impulse 2, the first aircraft to circumnavigate the world powered only by solar energy, and two previous student winners of the Zayed Future Energy Prize – from Cashmere High School in New Zealand and the Korean Science Academy of KAIST – also presented to the Student Exclusive audience.

The Student Exclusive also featured a presentation by Fatema Al Mulla, Marketing Executive at Masdar, on the findings of The Masdar Gen Z Global Sustainability Survey, the first global study of youth attitudes towards sustainability, renewable energy and climate change; a talk by Dr Majid Al Qassimi, Director of the Animal Health & Development Department at the UAE Ministry of Climate Change and Environment on “The natural world and sustainability”; and a presentation on the sustainability narrative of Expo 2020 by Alya Al-Ali, Director for Youth, Expo 2020.

The final community awareness event of Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week will be The Festival at Masdar City on January 20-21. Open to the public, The Festival will host sustainability-themed games and activities, live entertainment and food stalls.

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