The Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research participated on Wednesday, 3rd of February 2016, in the dialogue organized by the Environment Agency – Abu Dhabi, to commemorate the 19th National Environment Day, to discuss sustainability issues in universities titled "Framework for policies and strategies of sustainability". The Ministry confirmed its support of sustainability issues in general and, in universities in particular, through the speech during the dialogue, presented by Youmna Bodowah Assistant Undersecretary of Higher Education and Scientific Research Affairs, she said: "the subject of sustainability at universities is receiving great attention, both at the global and local levels, and has translated this attention of the wise leadership with the launch of his Highness Sheikh Mohamed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice President, Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai, in January 2012, “UAE Green Growth Strategy", under the slogan "A Green Economy for Sustainable Development", since the approach to a green economy is an essential means of achieving sustainable development.. " adding that “The Ministry, headed by His Excellency Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mubarak Al Nahyan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research, supports this direction, in addition to the Ministry’s aim in the adoption of disciplines and programs that support the transformation of the State's green economy, whether in the private or government local universities, and encouraging students to enrol in them, through grants or scholarships to study in prestigious universities worldwide, the Ministry joins you today in establishing a framework of policies and strategies for sustainability, out of its belief in the importance of dialogue and discussion to reach the best potential which contribute to building the capacity of the targeted youth category". More than 100 academicians from 23 universities across the UAE participated in the dialogue as part of the Sustainable Campus Initiative, the Mentors Interaction and Dialogue meeting last year that identified an urgent need for mainstreaming sustainability across the UAE’s universities and campuses. The dialogue saw the establishment of a framework to successfully mainstream sustainability across these educational bodies, with support from its partners; the “Ministry of Higher Education & Scientific Research”, “Ministry of Environment and Water”, “Abu Dhabi Education Council” (ADEC), "Abu Dhabi Water and Electricity Authority" (ADWEA), "Tadweer" (The Center of Waste Management - Abu Dhabi), and “Borouge”. The dialogue focused on five key areas for integrating sustainability that included: identification of areas of sustainability and capacity-building requirements and training needs, casting roles and responsibilities, sustainable infrastructure operations, in addition to community outreach, integrating sustainability into the curriculum and encouraging research in the area of sustainability. Professor Erin Waltz, integrating sustainability in higher education Expert from the University of Wageningen in the Netherlands delivered the keynote speech, during the dialogue 5 subgroups were formed to develop a common framework for sustainability policy and draft the framework proposal, and highlighted several complementary themes, university deans, professors, coordinators and university student coordinators engaged in meaningful discussions to identify capacity building and training needs, and assigned roles and responsibilities for supervisors, facilitators and mentors to become actively engaged and accountable. In parallel, various ways to integrate sustainability into curricula and promote research on sustainability were explored, in addition to embedding sustainability into campus infrastructural operations. Ahmed Baharoon, EAD’s Executive Director, Environmental Information, Science & Outreach Management said: “Since launching the Sustainable Campus Initiative back in May 2014, we have worked closely with universities and campuses across the Emirate of Abu Dhabi to implement sustainability as a vision and practice. It is through workshops like these that we can work collaboratively and have the opportunity for the academic sector to play a more active role in society as we move towards a ‘greener’ sustainable future.” He added: “Today’s dialogue was both interactive and participatory. A plenary discussion will then be conducted with the purpose of framing a draft sustainability policy and developing a framework of action needed to give a strong direction to our universities and campuses.” Dr. Mohamed Yusuf Hassan, Executive Director of the higher education sector in Abu Dhabi Education Council said “Sustainability is about, what we've seen from the Paris meeting on climate and the international activity in Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week is but the fruit of the efforts of the UAE and the wise leadership in this area, and that focus on different areas, such as climate, energy, water and recycling, is part of the future plans of all institutions concerned with sustainability and Environment Agency will remain a pioneer", he added that "the most important elements of sustainability is to disseminate culture among members of the society, including schools and universities, the role of universities lies beyond the application of sustainability to the infrastructure but extends to provide innovative solutions on how to preserve the climate, energy and water and do the necessary research work.” “We are fully committed to the preservation of the environment and the well-being of the communities where we operate,” explains Obaid Al Dhaheri, Senior Vice President, Corporate Affairs at Borouge as he makes reference to its petrochemical plant in Ruwais and its operations around the world. “Our commitment to Environmental Stewardship and Social Responsibility is embedded within our Company and is reflected in the way we manage our operations and innovate plastics solutions that enhance people’s lives.”Al Dhaheri added: “Borouge is pleased to actively engage the leaders of the future in the sustainability practices and management system of the Sustainable Campus Initiative so that they can contribute to a better environment today within their campuses and tomorrow in their chosen fields in the future.” The second annual SCI Mentors Interaction and Dialogue meeting also helped to deliver several strategic outcomes. The general sustainability policy and framework of action that was agreed by all the stakeholders would serve as a guiding document for all colleges and universities to shape their own policies and plans, by implementing the sustainable campus policy, UAE universities and colleges are placed on the global map, raising both their academic status and global profile. Furthermore, by endorsing a stated sustainability policy, the Ministry of Higher Education supports the UAE’s vision and commitment to green growth by shaping a young workforce that possesses the necessary skills to engage in green jobs. Such a workforce contributes to the transformation of all economic sectors, allowing operations to become more sustainable in the long-run.
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