Connecting NYUAD with the World of Climate Diplomacy

Beniamin Strzelecki was a part of NYU Abu Dhabi’s delegation to COP27, the UN climate change conference in Egypt in November 2022.

Participating in the UAE delegation to the COP, was a valuable experience for improving my understanding of climate diplomacy and connecting with stakeholders involved in sustainability efforts in the UAE. The preparations for the summit started before the departure as we were invited to attend training sessions at the Anwar Gargash Diplomatic Academy. 

During the crash course, we learnt negotiation and diplomacy skills and received briefings about the key agenda items for the upcoming climate summit. It was a valuable lesson in the dynamics of the world of climate diplomacy. I believe that it is important for students to pursue such opportunities of hands-on experiences to get better prepared for working on international issues in their future careers. 

At the COP, I also had the opportunity to represent the Student Energy Summit 2023, the world’s largest youth-led conference focused on energy that we will be hosting at NYUAD in November 2023. As the co-chair of the summit, I engaged with various actors from the UAE and beyond in conversations about potential partnerships towards our conference. Highlights included bilateral meetings with HE Mr Francesco La Camera, Director-General of IRENA and HE Mr Majid Al Suwaidi, Director-General of COP28. Additionally, on November 15, at the UAE pavilion, we hosted a side event titled “Student Energy Summit 2023: Uniting and Empowering Youth in the Energy Transition”, where we presented the summit to the global audience present at COP. Overall, the COP is an excellent opportunity for networking and creating partnerships for individuals active in the climate action space. 

My journey of involvement with sustainability initiatives at NYU Abu Dhabi started during my very first semester when I joined the Student Government Sustainability Committee. Over the course of the past three years, I have been engaged in and led various initiatives on campus and I participated in programs in the UAE outside of the university, such as Masdar’s Future Sustainability Leaders. 

In continuation of pre-pandemic cooperation, the Ministry of Climate Change and Environment invited NYUAD to nominate representatives to join the UAE’s delegation to COP27, the annual UN climate change conference, that took place in Sharm El-Sheikh, Egypt in November 2022. I was honored to be selected as one of the student representatives and I was excited to join the official UAE delegation for this world’s most significant climate action summit. 

The next step for the COP is Dubai with the 28th conference scheduled to take place in the UAE in November 2023. One of the outstanding agenda items from this year’s COP is agreement on increasing ambition for reduction of greenhouse gas emissions and phaseout of fossil fuels. Hopefully, next year’s conference will be able to deliver on this priority area to ensure that we meet the Paris Agreement goal of limiting the warming to 1.5 degrees Celsius. 

With its strong leadership in promoting youth empowerment, the UAE has already committed to focus on inclusion during the upcoming COP and I believe that the young generation will play an important role during the coming summit.