Students from around the world and across the UAE came together in Abu Dhabi from January 25-27 to propose sustainable action plans to address important global issues as part of the Global Issues Network (GIN) 2013 hosted by NYU Abu Dhabi (NYUAD). Fifty university and high school students representing more than 20 nationalities were divided into “global village” teams to create Abu Dhabi-focused solutions to major global issues in five areas: energy, health, education, technology, and waste management.
Proposed solutions ranged from ideas to maximize solar panel efficiency through the use of electro-dynamic dust shields, to create a family unit approach to addressing mental health issues, and to establish school and university awareness campaigns to address environmental challenges related to energy use and waste management, among others.
During the three-day conference — which drew attendees from the US, the UK, Hong Kong, India, Syria, and Bahrain — delegates spent time learning about Abu Dhabi and engaging with sustainability leaders across a range of industries. The program included visits to the marine laboratory and fish market, meeting with experts from the Environment Agency — Abu Dhabi to discuss water management, and a walking tour of Abu Dhabi to consider sustainable cities in the context of the Capital. Keynote speakers addressed the delegates and worked closely with them in the process of formulating their solutions. Speakers included HH Sheikh Abdul Aziz bin Ali Al Nuaimi, also known as the “Green Sheikh;” Jeffrey Avina, director of the Middle East and Africa Division of Microsoft Citizenship and Community Affairs Department; Natasha Chichilnisky-Heal, strategic advisor for Global Thermostat; and Scott Hammell, inspirational speaker, charity worker, and World Guinness Record holder.
NYUAD sophomore and executive director of the conference Ben Jance said: “The Global Issues Network is an important platform for the youth to connect with industry leaders, and with their peers from around the world, as they investigate important issues of global relevance through the lens of the city of Abu Dhabi. This event not only encourages students from other parts of the world to learn about Abu Dhabi and some of the incredible sustainability initiatives under way here, but also to contribute to this effort by proposing creative, innovative, and implementable solutions.”
The Global Issues Network is an established event that is hosted by international schools from around the world to discuss and propose solutions to pressing global issues; GIN 2013 hosted by NYUAD marks the first time the conference has been held at the university level.