The Times Higher Education Forum "Accelerating Action on SDG 6" has commenced at the United Arab Emirates University
Mon, 11 September 2023
Towards a Secure and Sustainable Future
With wide participation from experts and several international institutions in the field of clean water and sanitation, the Times Higher Education Forum on "Accelerating Action on Sustainable Development Goal 6" began on the morning of September 11, 2023, at the United Arab Emirates University. This forum is related to ensuring access to clean water and sanitation services for all within the framework of the United Nations' Sustainable Development Goals for 2030.
The event was attended by His Excellency Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, the Cultural Advisor to His Highness the President of the UAE and the Chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University, His Excellency Dr. Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, the Executive Vice President of Khalifa University of Science and Technology, and Mr. Duncan Ross, the Chief Data Officer at "Times Higher Education," along with a broad range of experts and international consultants, university and research leaders, and specialists in the fields of clean water and sanitation, international institutions, and Ms. Sarah Ahmed, Founder and director of "UNESCO" supported Global Network of Virtual Water Museums, in strategic partnership with Khalifa University of Science and Technology, Abu Dhabi University, and Al Ain University, Trends Research & Advisory, and the Emirates News Agency (WAM), in the city of Al Ain.
In his speech, His Excellency Zaki Anwar Nusseibeh, the Cultural Advisor to His Highness the President of the UAE and the Chancellor of the United Arab Emirates University, welcomed the participants in the forum and said, "The United Nations has defined 17 Sustainable Development Goals in its Sustainable Development Plan for 2030. The United Arab Emirates is committed to achieving each of these goals. The UAE seeks to strike a balance between social and economic development and the imperative of protecting our natural resources for future generations." He added, "The United Arab Emirates recognizes the importance of access to clean water and sanitation as a fundamental human right, and we are working to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 through a range of initiatives. The country has made significant investments in upgrading the available infrastructure to ensure access to clean water and sanitation. It has also introduced policies and regulations that promote water conservation and sustainable consumption, which also enhance the efficiency of treated wastewater use and encourage the use of modern irrigation techniques."
His Excellency also stated, "Through the main presentations and discussions in this important forum, we look forward to examining the practices and standards that ensure access to clean water and sanitation for all individuals. We will also explore the role of academic institutions and scientific research centers in striving to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6 and the measures that can be taken locally."
Professor Ahmed Murad, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the forum and the Associate Provost for Research at the United Arab Emirates University, further explained, "This forum aims to highlight the leading role of the United Arab Emirates University in achieving the national agenda related to Sustainable Development Goal 6. This will be achieved through research, innovation, and the development of academic programs that enhance the role of students as active contributors to the development and progress of the country. Additionally, the conference aims to explore the best academic practices that contribute to innovative solutions for the challenges of clean water and sanitation by building strategic partnerships."
In the opening session of the forum, titled "How Can Clean Water and Sanitation become universally accessible," both Professor Peng Wang from Sun Yat-sen University in China and Sanjay Swarup, the Director of the National University of Singapore's Environmental Research Institute (NERI), pointed out that one of the most significant challenges to economic stability is the alarming decrease in per capita and national access to clean water in many regions around the world. This challenge is one of the major obstacles to achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6, and they discussed the potential for international cooperation to overcome this challenge.
The second session of the forum focused on the topic "Aiding and addressing: How can universities promote best practices for clean water and sanitation." The session was chaired by Professor Ahmed Murad, the Chairman of the Organizing Committee of the forum and the Associate Provost for Research at the United Arab Emirates University. The speakers emphasized what universities and higher education institutions in countries should provide in terms of creating influential frameworks for achieving Sustainable Development Goals. They discussed the importance of providing the necessary resources for implementing the established plans, which realistically contribute to achieving their goals. Participants in this session included: His Excellency Arif Al Hammadi, Executive Vice President of Khalifa University Ms. Sarah Ahmed, Founder and director of "UNESCO-supported Global Network of Virtual Water Museums, Dr. Andrew Hursthouse, Professor of Environmental Geochemical Chemistry at the University of the West of Scotland, Dr. Eesa AlBastaki, President of the University of Dubai.
Additionally, a third dialogue session was held within the framework of the Times Higher Education Forum on Accelerating Action on Sustainable Development Goal 6. This session addressed a scientific question titled "Against the clock: How Can the Global Research Community Best Coordinate to Meet SGD 6 Targets" The session was moderated by Professor Ghassan Aouad, Chancellor of Abu Dhabi University. The dialogue session explored the role of the international research community in better coordinating to achieve these goals, and the best solutions that can be offered and effectively implemented to address the clean water and sanitation crisis amidst dwindling resources and rapid climate change. Participants in this session included: Professor Mohsen Sherif, a Professor in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the United Arab Emirates University, Associate Professor J. Paul Chen from the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering at the National University of Singapore, Professor Elisabeth Holland, Director of the Pacific Center for Environment and Sustainable Development from the University of the South Pacific, and Dr. Nazih Mallat, Vice President of Al Ain University for Accreditation and Quality Assurance.
In the evening session of the forum, a lecture titled "Smart Facility Management Solutions: Best Practices in Sustainability" was delivered by Mr. Ahmed Al Atrash, the General Manager of Khadamat Facility Management Company. In this lecture, he highlighted innovative solutions, technologies, and practices related to improving the quality and conservation of water to promote the transition towards smart cities and sustainability practices.
Forum participants also discussed the role of media and its impact on advancing the achievement of Sustainable Development Goal 6 in a dialogue session moderated by Dr. Ali Al-Ghafli, the Vice Dean of the College of Humanities and Social Sciences at the United Arab Emirates University. The session was titled "Clean Coverage: How Can the Media Provide the Most Accurate Reflection of the Challenges Around Sustainable Development Goal 6?" Participants in this session included: Mariët Westermann, Vice Chancellor of New York University Abu Dhabi, Ms. Elyazia Jasim AlHosani, Head of Media Communications Office at Trends Research & Advisory, and Dr. Maha Bashri, from the Department of Media and Creative Industries at the United Arab Emirates University.
During the evening session of the forum, another dialogue session was held under the title "Youth-Driven Innovation: How Young People Are Creating Social For SDG6". The session was moderated by Mr. Sultan Hajji, the Vice-President of Public Affairs and Alumni Relations at the Mohamed bin Zayed University for Artificial Intelligence. Participants discussed the role of higher education and the scientific research sector in empowering youth effectively and assisting them in working towards achieving the long-term goals of Sustainable Development Goal 6. Speakers in this session included: Ms. Maysoon Halal - Executive Director of the Fatima bint Hazza Cultural Foundation, Dr. Hatem AbuShamlah from the Department of Environmental Health and Safety at Abu Dhabi University, Mr. Sultan Khalifa Al-Rubaei Deputy Head of Research and Advisory Sector at Trends Research & Advisory, and Ms. Isabela Battistello Espindola Senior Membership Engagement Manager at the International Water Association in London.
Additionally, an advanced data masterclass was conducted by the Times Higher Education, delivered by Mr. Duncan Ross, the Chief Data Officer. This course analyzed the performance of universities in the 2023 impact rankings, with a particular focus on the activities undertaken by universities to support sustainable practices in the field of clean water and sanitation to achieve Sustainable Development Goal 6. The masterclass aimed to review global university performance, as well as regional strengths and weaknesses.
In the concluding session of the forum, Professor Ahmed Murad and Mr. Duncan Ross presented the key findings and recommendations for achieving Sustainable Development Goal 6 in clean water and sanitation. They emphasized the importance of international cooperation and partnerships in finding scientific solutions to water-related challenges. It was highlighted that best global practices emphasize the effective role of scientists and researchers in academic institutions and universities in providing inventions that serve humanity and contribute to providing water for all.
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