A senior UAE official from the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs has called on university students across the country to take a more active role in helping to combat climate change. During discussions with students and faculty at NYU Abu Dhabi on Sunday, H. E. Dr. Thani Ahmed Al Zeyoudi, the UAE’s Permanent Representative to the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA) and Director of Energy and Climate Change at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, urged the younger generation to get involved, push industry, and encourage each other to stay committed to reducing carbon emissions.
“Future generation are likely to be affected even greater by impacts of climate change, and that is why we need to ensure that the young generation is engaged in climate change discussions today,” Dr. Al Zeyoudi said. "It is great to see so many students are eager to contribute to the fight against climate change, which is an integral part of the UAE's vision to shift to a knowledge-based economy that capitalizes on innovation and technological advancements."
The UAE, in partnership with international institutions and local universities, is working to reduce its carbon footprint with the implementation of energy and water conservation efforts and the development of clean energy solutions. NYUAD is contributing to these efforts with research into biofuels, sea level change, climate modelling, and other initiatives. Dr. Al Zeyoudi’s talk came in the lead up to twenty-first session of the Conference of the Parties (COP21), a key climate change convention in Paris next month.
NYUAD first year student Jocilyn Estes said: “Hearing from H.E. Dr. Thani Al Zeyoudi, a person with so much experience and passion regarding the environment, was incredibly enlightening. His openness to speak and collaborate with students as well as faculty was really encouraging, and you could tell that he truly believes in young people and the power we have to make positive change.”
Dr. Al Zeyoudi made his plea for greater student voice in climate talks during a private session with ten undergraduate students studying public policy, engineering, economics and other majors. The session was followed by a public lecture hosted by NYUAD's Diplomacy in Action speaker series.
“What do we want from the students? We look to the youth, as the future minds of the country, as the source of new ideas and innovative solutions to these challenges,” he said. “We look at you as the future leaders, and we want you to be part of this solution."
The NYUAD’s Community to Community (C2C) Diplomacy in Action engagement series pulls on the strength of local leadership and talent in the community by inviting government officials, experts, and visiting leaders to speak to the University community on their background and priorities, allowing for an intimate exchange between communities. Previous speakers have included His Excellency Zaki Nusseibeh, Cultural Adviser, UAE Ministry of Presidential Affairs; U.S. Under Secretary for Public Diplomacy and Public Affairs, Richard Stengel; and other local, regional, and international officials and experts.