• Masdar’s Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) initiative hosts series of intergenerational events to engage global decision-makers and youth in climate action on sidelines of COP27
• UAE and Egypt Youth Ministers highlight important role young people must play in region’s net-zero transition at Y4S African Forum
• Y4S COP27 workshop brings together youth from UAE, Africa and Europe to innovate community-based sustainability solutions
Masdar, one of the world’s fastest-growing clean energy companies, and its global Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) initiative convened global industry leaders, regional policymakers, students and young professionals for a series of events to empower youth climate engagement and action on the sidelines of the 2022 United Nations (UN) Climate Change Conference (COP27).
Y4S is the United Arab Emirates’ premier sustainability-focused youth empowerment program, held under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan, member of the Abu Dhabi Executive Council and Chairman of Abu Dhabi Executive Office, and launched in 2017 by Masdar, one of the world’s fastest-growing clean energy companies.
In the lead-up to and throughout the first week of COP27 in Sharm Al Sheikh, Egypt, Y4S hosted a series of events focused on unlocking the potential of Africa’s most abundant resource: it’s bourgeoning youth demographic, which represents more than 60 percent of the population, making Africa the youngest continent on the planet, according to the UN. By 2050, that youth population is expected to double, both intensifying the already-acute effects of climate change felt across the continent and creating significant opportunities to engage youth in climate action.
The Y4S African Dialogue, hosted Friday 11 November under the theme, “Building Youth Adaptability and Resilience for a Sustainable Future in Africa,” began with a high-level panel featuring youth ministers from the UAE and Egypt, who together highlighted the importance of global collaboration in efforts to increase youth access to decision-making spaces where they can affect sustainable change.
UAE Minister of State for Youth Affairs, H.E. Shamma Al Mazrui, said: “The UAE reaffirms its commitment towards working with our partners in Africa and across the world to equip future generations with the knowledge, skills, and opportunities needed to contribute to and benefit from the global net-zero transition. This week at COP27, Y4S demonstrated that, by working together, we can inspire sustainable innovation and meaningful action in future generations. As the UAE prepares to host COP28 next year, we look forward to continuing our work with Masdar and Y4S, building on the efforts of COP27 and to amplifying youth voices in the multifaceted global climate dialogue.”
Egyptian Minister of Youth and Sports, H.E. Ashraf Sobhi, said: “African youth are incredibly resilient and innovative. As the continent’s largest and growing demographic, ensuring their inclusion and getting their buy-in through initiatives like Y4S will be increasingly critical to Africa’s sustainable socioeconomic development, security, and prosperity.”
During the first week of COP27, Y4S also hosted 22 young people from across Africa, Europe, and the UAE for an interactive workshop to brainstorm and build community-based sustainability innovations, such as a smart stove that promotes clean-powered cooking through its use of biomass brickettes, a biofuel substitute to coal and charcoal. Base materials used in these biomass brickettes also offer the added benefit of repelling mosquitoes to help African communities combat malaria, which claims the life of a child under five on the continent every 75 seconds, according to the UN Children’s Fund (UNICEF).
Masdar Executive Director of Brand and Strategic Initiatives, and Y4S Program Director, Dr Lamya Fawwaz, said: “The benefits of empowering the next generation cannot be understated. Yes, youth today are already facing unprecedented climate challenges – but that is precisely why it must be youth who take forward our ongoing efforts to combat climate change. At COP27, we saw some of the best and brightest come together to innovate impactful, sustainable solutions. In the coming months and years, Y4S will continue to engage, educate, and empower young people to turn climate promises and pledges into real action.”
Ahead of COP27, Y4S hosted “Innovate 4 Climate,” a special 45-day competition, including a 10-day virtual “bootcamp,” to inspire young changemakers to learn, collaborate, innovate, and co-create solutions for a just energy transition in Africa. Y4S partners in the Innovate 4 Climate competition included Siemens Energy, the UN’s Industrial Development Organization (UNIDO) and its Global Cleantech Innovation Program (GCIP).
Member of the Y4S COP27 Delegation and 2021 Y4S Future Sustainability Leader, Sara Almarzooqi, who was part of Innovate 4 Climate’s winning team that developed a solar-powered home lighting and clean electric stove system, said: “Innovate 4 Climate gave me and my peers the opportunity to study and work to address real energy problems, with a particular focus on Africa. Being able to collaborate with young people from other countries was a very rewarding and empowering experience. Our team came up with the winning invention and our success goes to show that when young people are supported to work together, they can generate innovative results.”
Recent graduate from the University of Rwanda’s College of Science of Technology, Nicole Bahati, who also joined the Y4S COP27 Delegation and participated in the Innovate 4 Climate challenge, said: “I am passionate about bringing practical clean energy solutions to my community in Rwanda and others like it across Africa. Before and during COP27, Y4S has consistently offered unparalleled opportunities to learn from and work with global industry experts, as well as other young people from around the world, to innovate clean-tech solutions that meet the unique, immediate needs of our communities while accelerating the sustainable socioeconomic development of Africa and the world.”
Y4S is aligned with the UAE’s Principles of the 50, UAE Net-Zero by 2050 strategic initiative, and UN SDGs for mitigating climate change by building youth capacity, resilience, and adaptability. The Masdar platform hosts two year-long education and skill-training programs: the Future Sustainability Leaders (FSL) and Sustainability Ambassadors (SA) programs – both of which aim to empower the next generation of sustainability leaders by connecting them with global policymakers, corporate decision-makers, entrepreneurs, and technology pioneers to learn about best sustainability practices and leadership. FSL targets university and postgraduate students aged 18 to 35, whereas SA targets students aged 13 to 17 in high school.
Active in more than 40 countries across the world, Masdar is invested in a portfolio of renewable energy assets with a combined value of more than US$20 billion and a total capacity of more than 15 GW. In December, it was announced that Abu Dhabi National Energy Company PJSC (TAQA), Mubadala Investment Company, and Abu Dhabi National Oil Company (ADNOC) will partner under the Masdar brand to create a truly global, clean-energy powerhouse intended to spearhead the drive to net-zero carbon by 2050 while cementing the UAE’s leading role in green hydrogen.