Abu Dhabi, UAE: Zayed University (“ZU”), in partnership with the General Secretariat of the National Committee on Sustainable Development Goals (“SDGs”), held an interactive dialogue session at its Dubai campus. The session focused on designing solutions and proposals to activate the role of youth and increase their awareness and participation in achieving SDGs.

Notable attendees included Her Excellency Shatha Al Hashmi, advisor at the General Secretariat of the National Committee for SDGs and distinguished ZU alumna and former board member. Joining her were Professor Michael Allen, acting Vice President and Provost of Zayed University, and Professor Paul Hopkinson, Dean of the College of Interdisciplinary Studies, along with students and guests.

With just one week to go until COP28, the importance of exploring innovative sustainability solutions has never been more relevant. ZU, a leader of innovation in higher education, is at the forefront of empowering the next generation to contribute to these global and national efforts via its flagship Partner Challenge Program.

The session offered ZU students in the Partner Challenge Program a valuable chance to explore innovative solutions to raise awareness among youth on the SDGs. Insights from this session will be incorporated into a research report for presentation at COP28. Additionally, the session delved into potential areas of collaboration between ZU and the General Secretariat during COP28.

His Excellency Abdulla Nasser Lootah, Deputy Minister of Cabinet Affairs for Competitiveness and Knowledge Exchange and Deputy Chairman of the National Committee for SDGs, remarked, "The Partner Challenge embodies our commitment to placing youth at the heart of the global agenda. As we stand midway through this crucial initiative, it's vital to recognize the youth as catalysts for SDG progress. The UAE is strategically investing in their potential through initiatives such as the SDG Young Leaders Program. We have embedded them from the start in our adaptation of the SDGs as both a national and global mission. By empowering the youth, we accelerate innovative solutions, contributing to a better world for all. This challenge aligns with our nation's focus on youth empowerment, ensuring that their energy and creativity drive global change.”

Professor Michael Allen commented, "The Partner Challenge program, which is in its third year, has been a fantastic addition to Zayed University’s academic offering. But we can only deliver this program thanks to the work of our mentors, who guidance not only enriches our students' learning experience but also fosters a spirit of innovation and collaboration, essential for addressing the complex challenges of our time. We are deeply grateful to our mentors for their invaluable contributions and commitment to nurturing the next generation of leaders."

The university is proud and honored to have distinguished alumni like Her Excellency Shatha Al Hashmi participate in our flagship mentorship initiative. 

The SDG Young Leaders Program, designed and managed by the Secretariat of the National Committee on SDGs, aims to provide youth with the knowledge, experience, and skills necessary to participate effectively in supporting and leading national and international initiatives and programs to achieve global sustainable development goals and to build a more sustainable future. By engaging them with national decision-makers, global leaders, experts, and SDG enthusiasts, the members of the program are actively involved in all aspects of the UAE's implementation and acceleration of the SDGs, both nationally and internationally.

The Partner Challenge, which is integrated into our degree programs, involves student teams working together with alumni to tackle industry-relevant questions. This approach blends theoretical education with hands-on problem-solving, providing students with a practical understanding of the work they will encounter in their future careers.

This fall, nearly 200 alumni are participating in the Partner Challenge, offering their mentorship to current ZU students. These mentors come from a diverse array of sectors, including government, multinational corporations, and SMEs, spanning industries like technology, media, finance, and more. 

ZU’s robust alumni engagement, particularly in the realm of sustainability development, reflects the institution’s dedication to its core mission. In creating a collaborative environment that connects academic learning with real-world applications, ZU is equipping a new generation of leaders with the vital skills needed to navigate and solve the pressing challenges of our time.

About Zayed University
Zayed University, the UAE’s flagship higher education institution, was established in 1998 and proudly bears the name of the Founder of the Nation – the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. In the spirit of Sheikh Zayed, the University is a pioneer and innovator in the field of education and research. The University currently caters to many Emirati and international students across its full range of undergraduate and postgraduate offerings.
Led by Her Excellency HE Shamma Bint Sohail Al Mazrui, Minister of Community Development, Zayed University Board of Trustees Chairperson, the University proudly serves the needs of the Nation and contributes to the UAE’s economic, social and cultural progress, in its state-of-the-art campuses in Abu Dhabi and Dubai. It embraces innovation and its learning programs adopt best-in-class technology.
Through research, scholarship, creative activities and outreach, Zayed University provides educational leadership, expands opportunity, and enriches the knowledge of local, regional, and global communities.
The University is proud of its role in encouraging academic excellence, promoting leadership skills and advancing knowledge. The University also strives to encourage the potential and inspire the promise of all its students, whilst also accelerating change in the UAE and contributing towards the Nation’s ambitious plan for the next 50 years. 
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