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Engaging and Empowering Youth For a Sustainable Future 07 Nov 2016 Masdar City


Youth Circles


Engaging and Empowering Youth for a Sustainable Future

Zainab Al Ali

Young Future Energy Leaders Program Manager


  • In the academic circles, the discussion about sustainability has been going on for years, but not extended to community
  • Sustainability should be a lifestyle. • Today is living proof that we care about sustainability, being in a city that celebrates it – Masdar City
  • We need to push community more to do the right thing. • Sustainability challenges are interdependent and impacts all areas (social, economic, etc)
  • Students are the key to kick-start the conversation about sustainability. • UAE youth are aware of the challenges faced in order to adopt sustainable practices
  • We need to connect back to nature. Lately innovation and technology are occupying our time and space. The lack of connection to nature can lead to ignoring it 
  • Most successful economies are the ones that have SME’s as their basis as SMEs can provide the right and accessible solutions to tackle issues related to adoption of sustainable measures
  • We are already witnessing the dangers of rising temperatures and global warming. Our response should take place now – not in the future
  • Students in Masdar Institute strive to find the solutions needed to address sustainability challenges. The most difficult part for research is identifying these challenges
  • There is a challenge in addressing the transition from youth from an academic background to a professional background - there is large gap between these 2 groups. They need to identify ways to be able to transmit the information they learn in a classroom to a professional surrounding
  • YFEL encourages members to interact in different conferences and events internationally – this international exposure therefore becomes a learning opportunity. Being exposed to communities with challenges toward energy access and scarcity of water/resources pushes you to find solutions for them
  • We need to embrace social media more in educating our generation on sustainability issues – this is the best way to engage them
  • Sustainable awareness should come from all areas (school, home) and should be implemented at a young age; only then will it be acceptable and applied
  • We need to push youth out of their comfort zone to engage them in the sustainability dialogue
  • Youth needs to make sure that they have a say in their future, the impact that is taking place due to global warming will affect the youth of today first. If we don’t act the future will be dismal. Youth need to find their niche, and excel in it. Everyone has something to contribute
  • In the US, science fairs and competitions are popular, they are an educational tools and encourages innovative thinking and collaboration. The UAE should adopt this model.
  • Biggest challenge is to educate the educated, especially individuals in position of power (large corporations) – they have the largest impact
  • Graduate students come up with innovative ideas, but they never materialize in real life. These ideas require the right channels and platforms to make these solutions into beneficial realities
  • There are platforms like the “UAE Scientists Council” that can help materialize innovations by students (provide information, finances, support, etc.) – perhaps we should utilize them more
  • We need to incorporate sustainable measures in our daily lives – the UEA needs to lead by example in this sector
  • SMEs that can help find solutions also find challenges and struggles. This happens first in the competitive nature of the market and second in policies and regulations that are slow changing and do not reflect in the business world
  • We should put a stronger importance on intergenerational conversation.


  • Establish a Masdar Youth Council, work with youth council to reach government and society
  • Public and private sector can collaborate to empower youth
  • Involve various stakeholders and promote their participation in the discussion about sustainability
  • Utilize technology and innovation to find solutions to implement sustainable measures
  • Work with the business sector to come with solutions, this is not only the government’s responsibility
  • Live in harmony with nature, not work against it
  • Researchers need to work with the wider community to identify the challenges related to adopting sustainable measures; a collaborative platform accessible to community and researchers should be developed
  • Create more interaction to address the disconnect between the academic and professional world
  • Create exposure to communities that will benefit the most from sustainable measures – visit them, witness their lifestyle, identify the challenges and find innovative solutions
  • Utilize social media in the educational process about sustainability. Capitalize leadership figures or personalities to educate as role models and mentors
  • Create an online portal where people can submit information about the challenges and also create innovative solutions for them
  • Implement summer programs for schools, introduce them to principles of sustainability (a place to think of solutions and engage with youth)
  • Launch science competitions and give incentives, students will then come up with solutions for the challenge when it is in a competition format
  • Add more information about renewable energy in the school’s curriculum, start with basic education
  • Develop a platform to gather open source data and collect related statistics and information regards sustainability and renewable energy, accessible to all
  • Collaborate with NPOs and organizations like Zayed Future Energy prize to reach communities who require these measures the most
  • We can start with small initiatives, limit the use of paper, water bottles, etc. start these solutions from home and our daily lives
  • Find solutions that focus on a local level first
  • Use social media, use of hashtags to promote the message, small steps in the right direction
  • Develop an app to measure a person’s energy consumption, educate the person about what are the consequences of such consumption, encourage sustainable behavior, can help in building a community
  • Create incentive programs for green businesses