Lagarde was briefed on Masdar’s role as a global renewable energy leader and as a pioneer for sustainable real estate through its development of Masdar City, which is now home to thousands of residents and hundreds of businesses.
Masdar officials presented on the company’s diverse portfolio of renewable energy projects, as well as the city’s success in raising awareness of the commercial viability of low-carbon urban development.
Lagarde, who has led the IMF since 2011 and provides financial oversight for its 189 member countries, was briefed on this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and how a number of its key initiatives including the Zayed Sustainability Prize, WiSER, Youth 4 Sustainability, and the Masdar Emerging Leaders Programme are empowering youth to become active sustainability leaders.
ADSW 2019 also hosted the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, at which 25 public and private sector organisations, including Masdar, committed to support the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Declaration to jointly advocate sustainable finance and investment that fosters positive social, economic and environmental impacts.
Lagarde, on her visit to Masdar City, said: “It is inspiring to hear so many young people speak so passionately about their collective drive towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals. We rely on the next generation to continue to innovate and find solutions to address our global sustainability challenges.”
“We are delighted to receive Christine Lagarde at Masdar City, especially at a time when the nation is observing Innovation Month, so that she can see the investment the UAE is making in sustainable development, and the role we at Masdar and other stakeholders are playing in empowering youth through knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar.
“Youth engagement is a core element of our commitment at Masdar to help the UAE achieve its sustainability goals. This opportunity to share insights on these initiatives with Ms Lagarde, and benefit from her vast experience, will help us encourage even more young UAE nationals to become involved in the sustainability sector, whether in research, entrepreneurship, or raising awareness.”
The visit included presentations from three innovative start-up companies supported by The Catalyst, a joint venture between Masdar and multinational energy company BP.
The startups were BonApp, a mobile application designed to reduce food waste by allowing consumers to purchase fresh but unsold food from restaurants at a discount; De L’Arta, a company specialising in sustainable soil regeneration techniques as well as natural skincare products extracted from UAE native plants; and The Febits, which utilises autonomous sea-surface cleaning robots to clear oil spills and pollutants.
Lagarde also met with young Emirati students and researchers of Khalifa University, who presented research projects on a range of topics including renewable-powered hydrogen production plants and sustainable water desalination technologies.
Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “We welcome Christine Lagarde to Masdar Institute and her interest in advanced research projects in energy and water-related areas, which demonstrate our status as a top-ranked academic institution dedicated to encouraging sustainable initiatives among the youth.
“Khalifa University’s 16 research centres that drive intellectual capital creation are focused on the UAE’s strategically essential sectors such as clean energy, aerospace, nuclear engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology as well as oil & gas. We believe Lagarde’s visit will help highlight our scientific research in sustainability among the other United Nations organisations and the benefits they bring to the wider global community.”
To conclude the tour, Lagarde participated in a roundtable discussion led by Dr Lamya Fawwaz, Masdar’s Executive Director for Brand & Strategic Initiatives, and Director of the Zayed Sustainability Prize.