The HCT Abu Dhabi/Khalifa City Women’s Colleges have successfully hosted “Sustainable Conversations” – a one-day forum that brought together international and national speakers with young Emirati students and graduates to discuss sustainability issues.
A highlight of the day was an impromptu speech by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al Nahayan, Minister of Higher Education and Scientific Research and Chancellor of the HCT, who used personal stories as well as scientific findings to encourage students to “create a culture of saving water.”
Over 250 ADWC/KCWC students, graduates, faculty and staff attended the event, as well as H.E. Sheikh Shakhbout Nahayan Al Nahayan and HCT Vice Chancellor Dr. Tayeb Kamali.
In remarks reflecting a personal commitment to preserving the UAE’s water resources, H.E. Sheikh Nahayan challenged his audience to “be agents of change”. After explaining how what a tiny percentage of the earth’s water is drinkable, he told students to “see how much you can save, and influence others to save. It’s something you can do for your country”.
Prior to H.E. Sheikh Nahayan’s visit, the event’s morning session featured keynote speaker Curt Ellis, an award-winning documentary filmmaker and US leader in food sustainability.
In addition to his films, Mr. Ellis co-founded FoodCorps, a non-profit organization that helps recent university graduates work with school children to grow healthy foods.
“Different people have different ideas of what sustainability is,” Mr. Ellis said in his presentation.
“But what’s more important is who it is for. It’s for the generations to come. That’s why children and young people are such important parts of our sustainability efforts.”
Mr. Ellis’s presentation was followed by ADWC graduate Muhra Al Muhairi, now a manager at Abu Dhabi Municipality. She discussed Abu Dhabi Municipality’s “Blue Flag Beaches” initiative, which encourages proper cleanliness and services at internationally recognized beaches.
Several ADWC students then profiled projects they have carried out in different areas of the Colleges to raise awareness and make the ADWC/KCWC environment more sustainable. Students discussed projects involving health and environmental awareness; recycling; and preserving water resources, among other ideas.
H.E. Sheikh Nahayan’s visit came during the student presentations, and he encouraged in their efforts, saying: “All the leaders in this country are confident that you’ll preserve our resources.”
Following a sustainable lunch, a panel discussed how to increase sustainability in the UAE. The panel included Mr. Ellis; Amina Taher, Head of Community Engagement, Group Communications, Mubadala; and Dr. Nawal Al Hosany, Director of Sustainability at MASDAR.
Dr. Jace Hargis, Director of AD/KCWC, noted: “We were all inspired by H.E. Sheikh Nahayan’s challenge to create a water-saving culture. Our students will look back on this event as a key moment in their determination to preserve water and energy. In addition to H.E. Sheikh Nahayan’s enthusiastic support, we are thankful for the support of HCT Vice Chancellor Dr. Tayeb Kamali and our sponsor, Bunduq Oil Company. We also thank Mr. Ellis and our other presenters, including our students, for showing us how to take small steps toward making a big difference.”