Updated: Feb 15
Dubai, 10 February 2022 – The City We Need Now! Middle East Campaign was launched in Dubai on 9 February, calling for urgent action to accelerate the implementation of the New Urban Agenda. Led by the Middle East Cities Center of the American University of Dubai, the launch event attracted about 300 participants from the region and a diversity of organizations from the private sector, civil society, educational bodies, youth groups and the medias.
UN-Habitat Regional Director for the Arab States Erfan Ali opened the meeting to engage a wide range of organizations in the regional campaign in 2022 to reflect on the New Urban Agenda and point to solutions and game changers in the Middle East. ‘Acceleration is our key word in this campaign’ he said. ‘We have no time to lose in making cities more liveable, more sustainable, greener, healthier, safer and affordable, leaving no place and no one behind’.
Dr. Mahmoud AlBurai, Director of the Middle East Cities Center (MECC) in Dubai, a front runner in the regional campaign, called everyone to join The City We Need Now! movement and thanked all participants to join as ‘city changers’. He thanked the medias and acknowledged the participation of CNN to cover the event. He congratulated the CEO Club to commit to The City We Need principles through individual business pledges of members of the CEO Clubs Network and the Capital Club of Dubai. He also announced upcoming campaign activities such as Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Disclosure events for CEOs, Dubai Expo Events, Young City Changers events, the Model COP28 for school students, Community Engagement events on the ground, the upcoming launch of the SDG Academy and the Urban Journalism Academy.
Dr. Sabrina Joseph, Chief Academic Officer at the American University of Dubai, emphasised the role of quality education to achieve sustainable cities and communities by championing inclusivity and nurturing socially and environmentally sensitive mindsets amongst young people. Ishrat Siddiqui, Managing Director of the Middle East Model United Nations, reiterated the need to engage youth in defining their urban future using education programmes. She explained the upcoming Model COP28 programme towards the 2023 Climate Change Conference for 75,000 middle and high school students in the UAE.
Dr. Sameh Wahba, Global Director of Urban, Disaster Risk Management, Resilience and Land Practice at the World Bank, made a case for recovery and accelerating green, inclusive, resilient and sustainable cities pointing to key directions in the Middle East. Mark Watts, Executive Director of C40 Cities reminded that cities across the world deliver science-based climate action through effective leadership from rich to poorer countries. ‘Resilience is meant to be the key attribute of The City We Need’ he said.
The Director of Climate Actions and Sustainable Technologies at SAP, Pedro Pereiera, explained that ‘the name of the game for The City We Need is is to start making sustainability profitable and profitability sustainable without sacrificing each other’. The Sustainability Action Society, a group of companies committed to sustainability, helps business to embed sustaibility into their core business. It is essential to ‘bring profit and planet together’ he added, and the responsibility of all companies to create low carbon solution, decarbonise in order to drive green markets while looking at ‘green’ consumers. Tatiana Antonelli Abella, Managing Director of Goumbook explained how her company engages communities in Dubai in driving the sustainability agenda, including action areas of The City We Need, through awareness and action events such as workshops and courses, markets, talks and lectures, as well as community service.
Dr. Tariq Nizami, Founder of CEO Clubs Network, described the commitments of business leaders to The City We Need Now! supporting the ten actions areas defined by the World Urban Campaign. Dr. Wesam Al Madhoun, CEO of Global Ambassadors of Sustainability also presented the Middle East SDG Academy, in partnership with the Middle East Cities Center, to spearhead sustainability education in the region. Ms. Susan Greenfield, World President Elect at the International Federation of Real Estate (FIABCI) joined to emphasize the need to strengthen urban sustainability in real estate practices through certfication and design techniques for developers and property managers.
Ms. Ayat Amr, Youth Ambassador for Jordan at the United Nations and social media influencer, made a plea to achieve The City We Need. For Ayat Amr, a former child refugee from Palestine who became a robotic engineer and received several international recognitions, the city we need should be ‘a place where youth can dream big, a place of opportunities and open to change’. Mohammed Basil Al Madani, Founder and CEO of Entrepioneers 2030 Platform, joined the event from Syria to explain his lead role in engaging the youth in The City We Need Now campaign across the region through multiple events and education activities. Sara Al Ameri also presented the Arab Youth Council for Climate Change, aimed to equip youth with environmental knowledge in view of the increasing challenges in the region.
Finally, Ms. Mirna Mounzer, TV Presenter & Media Entrepreneur, emphasized the role of the media in driving the sustainability agenda by communicating on the meaning of sustainaility for future cities. She announced that the Urban Journalism Academy for the Middle East will be launched in March 2022, in partnership with CNN and other media partners, with the aim of increasing the capacity of journalists and social media influencers in urban news related to the sustainability agenda. To end the session, Adrienne Doolan, CEO of Green Touches Echoes of Sustainability, invited everyone to Expo 2020 Dubai for an event on Co-Creating the Future where SDGs for The City We Need will be discussed at the Sustainability Pavillion on 17 February (registration link).
WATCH THE EVENT
The event was broadcasted on Facebook live and recorded, available for replay at: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=I5ZV7WSeHpg