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WGEO highlights youth role in leading green recovery post-COVID-19

WGEO webinar emphasises the importance of young people and the need for their active involvement in facilitating a post-COVID-19 green recovery in the context of the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs

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Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of WGEO as well as MD & CEO of DEWA
Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of WGEO as well as MD & CEO of DEWA

The growing interest and energy of young people to support initiatives that help make the planet a more sustainable place to live took center stage at a webinar held recently organized by the WGEO-UNFCCC Regional Collaboration Centre in Dubai (RCC Dubai), for MENA and South Asia.

Designed around the theme, ‘Green Economy Opportunities in a Post COVID-19 Scenario: The Role of the Youth’, the webinar was the first in a series of webinars taking place under Academy for Global Youth Leadership Empowerment (AGYLE), an initiative focused on strengthening the youth’s role and skills to enable them to effectively lead and participate in the global climate action process. 

The webinar emphasized the importance of young people’s critical role and the need for their active involvement in facilitating a post-COVID-19 green recovery in the context of  the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) and the Paris Agreement, while focusing on regional challenges and opportunities.

Commenting on the inaugural event, Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, Chairman of WGEO, said: “It is imperative that we seize this opportunity to achieve a radical change and make the green recovery a reality. We are fully confident that the challenges of COVID-19 will not be an obstacle to achieve our vision and mission to advance the global green economy transition and fight climate change. Through its support to the WGEO, the UAE’s leadership is firmly committed to accelerating the green economy agenda. As a leading global organization dedicated to promoting these endeavors, we believe in our ability to rebuild our lives, our cities and our economies based on the foundations of green growth.”

“Restoring our health without restoring our planet will not be a viable solution. This is our chance to rethink our plans and raise climate action and green economy ambition with the support of a very important segment of our society – the youth,” Al Tayer added.

Dr. Eesa Bastaki, Chairman of Academia & Youth Platform of WGEO and President of the University of Dubai, said: “The youth play a pivotal role in driving positive change, much needed in a green economy transition. They are one of the most important resources of our region as they lead the transition towards a cleaner and sustainable future. Supporting young leaders and giving them the opportunity to take up pioneering roles in green technology will pave the way for the growth of green activists in the region who can be the drivers to accelerate green action.”

The event provided an important platform for young participants to learn about the interlinkages between the COVID-19 pandemic and the climate crisis, as well as the opportunities available for them to engage with and participate in efforts towards a green recovery within the framework of the Paris Agreement and SDGs. Speakers emphasized the role of the youth in pushing for a green recovery and the impacts and challenges associated with such a recovery. Further, the webinar provided participating youth, government representatives, and other stakeholders to ask distinguished speakers about the most relevant and urgent climate change issues affecting the region today and offer their solutions. All participants engaged in the discussions and exchange of ideas on practical actions to advance the SDGs, address climate change, and hasten the transition to the green economy.

Ovais Sarmad, Deputy Executive Secretary, UNFCCC Secretariat, noted that investments to empower young people are needed so as not to stifle their chances for a healthy future. “Nearly half of the population in the MENA region is currently under 25 years of age. It is absolutely essential that we give this generation the means to become agents of change for a greener, and more sustainable world,” he emphasized.

Rola Dashti, Executive Secretary, United Nations Economic and Social Commission for Western Asia (UN ESCWA), highlighted: “Time and again, Arab youth have played leading roles in rebuilding our communities from war, conflict, crisis and disasters. After the tragic Beirut explosion, it was inspirational to see youth volunteers self-organize via social media and selflessly support victims and contribute to the cleanup. Arab youth have shown themselves to be resilient and motivated by their belief in a better tomorrow.”

She pointed to the opportunities which can engage the youth, such as mainstreaming education about climate change in national education and training strategies and ensuring youth are considered in national development planning; promoting socially distanced public works programs through public-private partnerships and civil society organizations that engage youth in restoring green infrastructure; and empowering youth to take leadership roles in building back better by fostering opportunities to contribute to the regional knowledge base through digital technologies that engaged youth in data collection, research and analysis on the ground.

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