Universities are participating in live performances, presentations, interactive sessions, career fairs, research exhibitions and activities to prepare students to engage and involve in addressing global climate challenges
Dubai, Nov 30, 2023: As the 28th Conference of Parties (COP28) commences in Dubai, UAE, universities are playing a proactive role in engaging students in various activities, discussions and initiatives.
About three dozen universities from the UAE as part of the Universities Climate Network (UCN) have partnered with the climate event to support youth-focused objectives of COP28 UAE. The COP28 conference is taking place at Expo City Dubai from November 30 to December 12.
Universities are engaged with eminent climate law and governance counsellors, experts and professionals preparing to join more than 70,000 delegates and observers at the event.
There are about 33 UAE-based universities and higher education institutions involved in COP28 as a partner of the UCN and among the various activities are live performances, presentations, interactive sessions, career fairs, research exhibitions and various events held within the publicly accessible Green Zone of the conference. The goal is to prepare students to actively engage in discussions on climate change, fostering their involvement in addressing global climate challenges through a variety of initiatives and programmes.
According to Cody Morris Paris, Deputy Director of Research and Business and Head of the Business School, Middlesex University Dubai, faculty and colleagues will host the Climate Law and Governance Day (CLGD), a “symposium that aims to ensure that the perspectives of all affected communities are thoroughly represented in the pursuit of achieving the race to net zero.”
MDX Dubai recently served as the Official Academic Partner at the United Nations Conference on Trade and Development (UNCTAD) World Investment Forum 2023 in Abu Dhabi. “As the Academic Partner, MDX’s expert faculty hosted panel discussions and fireside chats, adding their insight into the ongoing conversations on sustainable development,” says Paris, adding that the outcomes of the discussions at UNCTAD World Investment Forum contributed to the upcoming COP negotiations and supported the key COP28 goals and objectives.
Canadian University Dubai (CUD) says it is leading two thematic working groups – Health and Water – in preparing for the COP28. Dr. Aseel Takshe, Assistant Professor, Head of Environmental & Health Programmes, Faculty of Communication, Arts and Sciences, CUD says the university is participating in events such as ‘Ecology in Harmony’ – a live performance, the ‘Accountable B School: An organisation-wide approach to Climate Action’ session, and the ‘COP28 Green Skills Career Fair’.
CUD also participated in the Climate Ambassadors Programme (CAP) and ‘The University Impact Forum. These programmes, Takshe says, provided students insights into COP28’s discussions, aimed at nurturing environmental leaders and discussing solutions aligning with COP28’s objectives.
Julia Carlow, Acting Head Sustainability, American University of Sharjah (AUS) says the faculty is participating in various programmes including panel discussions on various sustainability topics, including Eco-literacy and Education for Sustainable Development (ESD). She says AUS also launched the Green Living and Learning Community for students in its residential halls, the Expo City Climate Ambassador Programme.
Prof. Stephen Wilhite, Senior Vice President for Academic Affairs and Student Success, Provost, American University of Ras Al Khaimah (AURAK) says students plan to attend the Green Zone event on Youth, Children, Education and Skills event. Additionally, the university also showcased its Center for Outdoor Comfort at the World Climate Action Summit at COP28. The presentation focused on how outdoor comfort is vital for climate adaptation and why Ras Al Khaimah is an ideal location to implement outdoor comfort techniques.
Meanwhile, the University of Sharjah’s (UoS) participation in COP28 is aiming to showcase its scientific and research expertise in various fields related to sustainability, environmental protection and natural resources conservation. Additionally, it seeks to highlight its sustainability efforts, including the establishment of the Sustainability Office in 2017.
Dr. Geetha, Associate Professor, Department of Chemistry, Associate Dean Student Welfare, BITS Pilani – Dubai Campus says, “Four teams from our campus are selected under the Expo Live University Innovation Programme who will have their final pitch during COP28.” A cohort of 100 delegates including staff and students from BITS Pilani Dubai Campus are participating in COP28.
New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), as the chair of the Universities Climate Network, will host an all-day ‘Legacy in Practice’ forum for UAE-based higher education experts and leaders representing the network’s 33 universities, at COP28.
Supporting COP28 goals
The United Arab Emirates University Roadmap to COP28 and Beyond is designed to align with both the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative and the COP28 agenda. The roadmap has three major themes: Research and Innovation, Youth Empowerment and Local and International Partnerships. It encompasses 35 initiatives aimed at achieving measurable outcomes, with ongoing efforts that extend beyond COP28.
Khalifa University of Science and Technology is engaging with COP28 goals by committing to achieve Net Zero emissions by 2050, in alignment with the UAE Net Zero by 2050 strategic initiative.
Recently, students from Zayed University took part in a COP28 Simulation Model – a mock COP28, which provides students with a platform to share practical solutions for climate action.
According to Paris, MDX is the first university in the UAE to report the sustainability practices of the entire campus to the United Nations Global Compact Local Network UAE. The university initiatives are aimed at involving students in addressing climate challenges. In the lead-up to COP28, the university organised student-focused events throughout the year. Among these initiatives was the ‘For the Love of the Planet’ festival, which spotlighted fashion sustainability and recycling practices as well as an event addressing food security and waste in preparation for the Muslim holy month of Ramadan.
CUD’s DoBetter initiative aligned with the vision of COP28 is aimed at raising awareness about sustainability through activities such as recycling games, painting workshops, a green photobooth and movie nights. Additionally, the university has introduced a course titled ‘Impacts of Climate Change Policy of Environmental Management’, examining the responses of governments, regulatory agencies, political groups and media to climate change.
Meanwhile, according to Prof. Wilhite, AURAK engages its students in addressing climate challenges in alignment with COP28 through various initiatives such as participation in the iGEM Mena League sustainability competition, organising ‘Sustainability Day’ on campus and hosting a roundtable discussion focusing on the benefits of COP28 at the national, university and student level.
The UoS is working to develop clean energy technologies for energy transition and climate actions, innovative energy technologies in photovoltaic power, green hydrogen and electric vehicles. Additionally, the university is transitioning into a sustainable green transportation on campus.
The Abu Dhabi University recently initiated the ‘COP28 Ready: Leading the Way to Sustainability’ programme as part of the UAE’s Year of Sustainability. This certified programme aims to empower high school and undergraduate students by equipping them with the knowledge and tools to embrace sustainability and comprehend the significance of COP28.