Y4S initiative aims to equip high-school and university students with the skills, expertise and tools they need to advance their knowledge and pursue careers in the sustainability sector, through workshops, education sessions and hands-on experience in the industry.
Since its establishment, the UAE has made pioneering efforts to empower and nurture youth, to support the development of society and the economy, and to safeguard the nation’s future. In line with this vision and recognizing the importance of developing the next generation of sustainability leaders, Masdar launched its Youth 4 Sustainability platform this year.
Launched under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Mohammed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Executive Office, the platform prepares young people to become future leaders ready to pursue careers in the sustainability industry, combining tailored workshops and real-world experience to equip them with the skills needed to excel in the sector.
The Y4S platform includes a series of programs aimed at supporting students and young entrepreneurs, including the Sustainability Ambassadors for high-school pupils, and Future Sustainability Leaders, designed for university students. The platform aims to directly engage 50,000 young people across the world by 2030.
“The goal of the Y4S platform is to prepare a generation of conscientious, educated, and knowledgeable young people, qualified to lead the sustainability agenda and help the UAE to achieve its sustainable development goals”, says Zainab Al Ali, Senior Manager, Outreach and Stakeholder Relations, Masdar.
The Sustainability Ambassadors program provides high schoolers with the education, skills and training needed to prepare them for future careers in the sector, through real-world experience and a series of events held throughout the academic year. Originally launched in 2016 under the name " The Student Exclusive Ambassador Programme" in collaboration with the UAE Ministry of
Education, the program has been retooled as "Sustainability Ambassadors" and developed to align with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals.
The year-round Future Sustainability Leaders program brings together university students and young professionals with global leaders, policy makers and technology leaders, enabling them to learn latest policies and best practices in sustainability.
The Y4S platform also hosts a dedicated area for youth at each ADSW, including a specialist forum, exhibitions of students’ and partners’ projects, workshops and knowledge discussions, virtual education sessions, and future skills’ exhibitions. The interactive Y4S Hub – which attracts around 3,000 students during ADSW.
Through the “exceptional opportunities” Y4S provides for young people to meet with leading experts and thought leaders in the sustainability sector, and its tailored workshops and education sessions, the platform plays a vital role in preparing them to be sustainability leaders of the future, says Al Ali. These leaders will be needed to take the sustainability agenda forward, so the platform is about more than career development – it is an investment in a greener, more sustainable future.
The programs have been adjusted during the current conditions caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Al Ali explains, with the introduction of an integrated virtual digital environment to enable young people to continue learning. The platform is also hosting virtual workshops in collaboration with partners such as the Energy Department, Tabreed and Alpine Limited, and has launched a month-long online entrepreneurship training workshop for the Future Sustainability Leaders program. Y4S has also collaborated with The Abdullah Al Ghurair Foundation for Education to provide online courses for students.
Y4S is also one of a number of entities supporting the CovHack Virtual Innovation Challenge. Running under the theme ‘Circular Economy for Food,’ the challenge aims to discover innovative ways of building resilience in local and global food supply chains in a post COVID-19 world.
Since its inception, the Y4S platform has attracted 12,000 students through youth programs, organized more than 20 workshops and training programs, and unveiled 25 sustainable solutions introduced in the off-laboratory area of The Youth Sustainability Center during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week. Since 2017, there have been more than 400 participants in the Sustainability Ambassadors and Future Sustainability Leaders programs.
In their words: Y4S participants
"I have always wanted to reach out to people like me who share my interest in sustainability issues, and meet experts and industry leaders who are harnessing innovation to drive the sustainability agenda, and that's what I found through the Future Sustainability Leaders program, which is a fantastic platform for sharing experiences, ideas and perceptions about advancing sustainable development and building the future.” Hamdan Mohamed Karmustaji
“The Y4S platform enables youth to develop innovative ideas on the importance and growth of the sustainability sector globally. Furthermore, the program enhances our awareness and prepares us as future leaders to make conscious decisions on conserving our planet’s resources to build green economies. The opportunity to discuss relevant sustainability issues with a diverse selection of International thought leaders, is a life-changing experience." Simarna Singh
“By participating in the Sustainability Ambassadors Program, I have had the opportunity to participate in specialized workshops and activities to develop not only my knowledge of sustainability, but also leadership and teamwork, as well as equipping me with the skills I need to contribute to the achievement of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.” Mansour Anis
“The Future Leaders for Sustainability Program has provided me with a rich learning experience that has also helped me to develop as a person, equipping me to play an active role in shaping the future of my country.” Shama Ibrahim Ghafan AlAli
“My participation in the "Skills for the Future 2030" report prepared by the Y4Splatform gave me the opportunity to learn about key skills that young people will need in the next 10 years, to adapt to accelerating change in the labor market. It is also good that training programs have continued even under these exceptional circumstances through remote communication techniques; this pandemic has accelerated the transition to adopt these methods and techniques in learning.” Alice Ahmad
“The activities provided through the Y4S platform have contributed greatly to raising awareness among all participants as to how to play an active role in implementing the sustainability agenda, and have helped us gain a deeper understanding of how to contribute positively in implementing the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals.” Wei Hao Loh