“The decisions we make today will shape the world you will live in tomorrow,” said His Excellency Eng. Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Abu Dhabi Department of Energy (DoE), in his keynote speech addressing the Youth 4 Sustainability (Y4S) Virtual Forum during Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week 2021.

Taking place in the UAE capital from January 18-21, 2021, Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) 2021 consists of a series of high-level virtual events, bringing together experts and leaders to define new pathways for delivering a green recovery in a post-COVID-19 world. The Y4S Virtual Forum, meanwhile, is held on Monday, January 18.


“This is why your voice, your actions – big or small – matter, and will define various aspects of your lives in the coming years and even decades,” H.E. Al Marar went on to tell the young attendees at the Forum – a Masdar initiative launched under the patronage of H.H. Sheikh Khalid bin Mohamed bin Zayed Al Nahyan to invest in and support the development of young people in the UAE to become sustainability leaders.


“There is so much evidence of the impact of climate change on the air we breathe, the water we drink, and the food we consume. Climate change has implications for our economy, our business, our health – and importantly your future,” H.E. added.


“Climate change seems to have taken a back seat,” he noted, explaining that “COVID-19 has taken us by surprise and become the most critical issue of our times. The unprecedented pandemic has influenced every aspect of our lives and has taught us new lessons, which we are now using to rebuild our world and shape the business and economy of the future.”


H.E. Al Marar called on the youth to get involved in Abu Dhabi’s efforts to ensure sustainability, curb climate change, and preserve the environment. “Programmes like the Youth 4 Sustainability platform are an example of the opportunities Abu Dhabi provides to young people like yourselves to share your views and concerns on environmental issues, to equip you with the skillset to adapt to the changing needs of the job market, and to involve you in drawing the roadmap for the UAE’s next 50 years,” he said.


The DoE Chairman broke his keynote address down to three main thoughts: “The first is that you must be flexible and adaptable to withstand the constant changes taking place in our world and be ready for the future.”


“Your generation has higher educational degrees, you are more engaged with the world through digital communications and social media, and you have access to global knowledge and new technologies that didn’t exist a couple of decades ago,” he noted. “You have the chance to build a skillset that will help you adapt to new roles and be prepared to learn on the job.”


Moving on to the second thought, H.E. told attendees: “you are crucial to the future of the UAE and we rely on you to help make the world a better place. As young men and women, you represent the UAE’s future society, future community, and future leaders.”


“Last year, the UAE launched the Preparation for The Next 50 Years, and soon after, the world was hit by the COVID-19 pandemic….The Next 50 now includes recovery plans to rebuild from the crisis and enhance resiliency at all levels,” H.E. Al Marar explained. “We are not rebuilding the economy or society we knew before. We are creating future-proof solutions that ensure that you and the generations that follow you all have a comfortable home, and a good life in which you can grow and prosper. This is why your initiatives and ideas to support the UAE’s Next 50 plans and your solutions for a decarbonised UAE and a green economy are extremely relevant to informing our decision-making and shaping the future you hope for.”


The third and final thought of the speech was “to endorse peace and tolerance as core values for life.”


“We are a nation that values peace and promotes tolerance and co-existence,” H.E. told the young audience. “We trust you as the builders of the future and the next world leaders…to carry forward this noble mission for future generations.”


“We see you as agents of social change, innovation, and sustainable development – so make sure you nurture your skills and abilities to solve problems, and develop peaceful, practical solutions to any challenges you may face,” H.E. Al Marar concluded.


Aligned with the United Nations’ Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the UAE’s national strategy, the Youth 4 Sustainability Forum (Y4S) has introduced a series of programmes focused on students and young entrepreneurs. The programme’s mission is to engage 50,000 young people worldwide by 2030 to prepare the next generation of sustainability leaders and accelerate sustainable development by combining training with real-world experience.

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