Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, January 25, 2021: Masdar’s Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) Virtual Forum concluded following a successful three-day dialogue at Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021, which included inspirational discussion and keynotes by government leaders, industry experts, young innovators and social entrepreneurs. The Forum wrapped up with the Ecothon PitchDay competition for Y4S participants, which focused on innovation in sustainability.
Under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S), a Masdar outreach initiative, invests and actively supports the development of youth, with the objective of enabling them to become the sustainability leaders of tomorrow.
The platform hosts two year-long programs – the Future Sustainability Leaders and Sustainability Ambassadors programs. The new cohort of Future Sustainability Leaders and Sustainability Ambassadors joined the virtual forum, which featured more than 40 influential speakers from around the world. The forum hosted more than 4500 participants from 103 countries, reiterating the platform’s vision in building the next generation of sustainability leaders.
During the Forum’s opening address HE Eng. Awaidha Al Marar, Chairman of Abu Dhabi Department of Energy delivered a keynote on the energy perspective, during which he said: “The decisions we make today will shape the world you will live in tomorrow. This is why your voice, your actions – big or small – matter, and will define various aspects of your lives in the coming years and even decades. There is so much evidence of the impact of climate change on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we consume. Climate change has implications for our economy, our business, our health – and importantly your future.”
The 2021 edition of the Y4S forum provided upcoming sustainability leaders with a unique opportunity to discover how they can play an active role in leading the green recovery post-COVID-19; reimagine the skills required for delivering a sustainable future; accelerate the implementation of the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (UN SDGs); and build an environment that enables innovation and social entrepreneurship.
The global forum’s inspirational speakers also discussed how the UAE’s youth can contribute toward designing the country’s plan for the next 50 years of development, in preparation for the UAE’s Golden Jubilee celebration in 2021, with dialogue around climate, energy, innovation, social entrepreneurship and food security. The participants were provided with unique insights and discussion about how they can best contribute to a sustainable future.
“By investing in youth, and directly supporting their education and development, we are contributing to the larger global agenda. Young people can be the positive force that our world needs to flourish – and the greatest tool of all, is education,” said Dr Lamya Fawwaz, Executive Director, Brand & Strategic Initiatives, Masdar.
The insightful and motivating Ministers, policymakers and thought leaders who spoke at the Forum included HE Dr. Abdulla Belhaif AlNuaimi, UAE Minister of Climate Change & Environment; HE Dr. Ahmad Belhoul Al Falasi, Minister of State for Entrepreneurship and SME UAE Ministry of Economy; HE Mariam Almheiri, UAE Minister of State for Food Security; HE Eng. Awaidha Al Marar, Chairman, Department of Energy Abu Dhabi; HE Dr. Amna Al Dahak Al Shamsi, Assistant Undersecretary – Activities and Care Sector,UAE Ministry of Education; Francesco La Camera, Director-General of the International Renewable Energy Agency(IRENA); HE Salama Al Ameni, Director of Ma’an; HE Mohamed Al Hammadi, CEO, Emirates Nuclear Energy Cooperation; and Jayathma Wickramanayake, United Nations Secretary-General’s Envoy on Youth.
The Forum concluded with the hosting of the Ecothon PitchDay competition, where seven teams of Y4S participants from the Future Sustainability Leaders program’s 2020 cohort presented their ideas for an innovative solution to help accelerate energy efficiency for cooling in Abu Dhabi. The teams’ ideas were developed following extensive training and mentorship as part of the Y4S program over the previous year.
The winning team was TADS, which developed a concept for an application that promotes responsible energy consumption by rewarding points for lower consumption than the previous month’s usage. The points can be used to buy goods or services, or used for government payments. The app also tracks energy consumption.
Second place was awarded to TechAir for their application to track energy consumption, provide maintenance alerts and notify users of any anomalies with the system. The app also helps the user connect with their community and rewards their consumption.
A jury comprising members from Abu Dhabi Department of Energy, Khalifa Fund and The Catalyst, which is the region’s first startup accelerator focused on sustainability and a partnership between Masdar and BP, evaluated the pitches on their innovation and applicability.
The Ecothon program was launched in 2019 and offers early incubation and acceleration opportunities to Y4S cohorts through a mentoring and networking.