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IMF Managing Director Christine Lagarde Visits Khalifa University’s Masdar City Campus

February 12, 2019

Reviews Khalifa University Students’ Projects in Renewable-Powered Hydrogen Production Plants and Sustainable Water Desalination Technologies

Christine Lagarde, the Managing Director of the International Monetary Fund (IMF), toured Khalifa University of Science and Technology’s Masdar City Campus during her visit to the Abu Dhabi Future Energy Company (‘Masdar’) to witness the progress of Abu Dhabi’s flagship sustainable urban community and learn how investment in youth is helping the UAE to deliver on the UN Sustainable Development Goals.

Lagarde met with young students and researchers of Khalifa University, who presented their research projects, which covered a range of topics including renewable-powered hydrogen production plants and sustainable water desalination technologies.

The visit also included a tour of Khalifa University of Science and Technology’s cutting-edge research laboratories and presentations from three innovative start-up companies supported by The Catalyst – a joint venture between Masdar, Khalifa University’s Masdar Institute, and multinational energy company BP.

Lagarde, on her visit to Masdar City, said: “It is inspiring to hear so many young people speak so passionately about their collective drive towards achieving the UN’s sustainable development goals. We rely on the next generation to continue to innovate and find solutions to address our global sustainability challenges.”

Dr Arif Sultan Al Hammadi, Executive Vice-President, Khalifa University of Science and Technology, said: “We welcome Christine Lagarde to Masdar Institute and her interest in advanced research projects in energy and water-related areas, which demonstrate our status as a top-ranked academic institution dedicated to encouraging sustainable initiatives among the youth.

“Khalifa University’s 16 research centers that drive intellectual capital creation are focused on the UAE’s strategically essential sectors such as clean energy, aerospace, nuclear engineering, robotics, artificial intelligence, nanotechnology as well as oil and gas. We believe Lagarde’s visit will help highlight our scientific research in sustainability among the other United Nations organizations and the benefits they bring to the wider global community.”

Lagarde, who has led the IMF since 2011 and provides financial oversight for its 189 member countries, was briefed on this year’s Abu Dhabi Sustainability Week (ADSW) and how a number of its key initiatives including the Zayed Sustainability Prize, WiSER, Youth 4 Sustainability, and the Masdar Emerging Leaders Programme are empowering youth to become active sustainability leaders.

ADSW 2019 also hosted the inaugural Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Forum, at which 25 public and private sector organizations, including Masdar, committed to support the Abu Dhabi Sustainable Finance Declaration to jointly advocate sustainable finance and investment that fosters positive social, economic and environmental impacts.

“We are delighted to receive Christine Lagarde at Masdar City, especially at a time when the nation is observing Innovation Month, so that she can see the investment the UAE is making in sustainable development, and the role we at Masdar and other stakeholders are playing in empowering youth through knowledge, innovation and entrepreneurship,” said Mohamed Jameel Al Ramahi, Chief Executive Officer of Masdar.

“Youth engagement is a core element of our commitment at Masdar to help the UAE achieve its sustainability goals. This opportunity to share insights on these initiatives with Lagarde, and benefit from her vast experience, will help us encourage even more young UAE nationals to become involved in the sustainability sector, whether in research, entrepreneurship, or raising awareness.”

The companies nurtured by The Catalyst and exhibited included BonApp, a mobile application designed to reduce food waste by allowing consumers to purchase fresh but unsold food from restaurants at a discount; De L’Arta, a company specialising in sustainable soil regeneration techniques as well as natural skincare products extracted from UAE native plants; and The Febits, which utilizes autonomous sea-surface cleaning robots to clear oil spills and pollutants.

As part of the tour, Lagarde participated in a roundtable discussion titled ‘Rising to the challenge: how UAE youth are taking the lead on sustainability’. Discussions focused on how government, the private sector and non-profit community are all collaborating to empower youth to shape the sustainability agenda, with input from young participants representing multiple initiatives.

Findings of a Masdar-commissioned global survey of youth attitudes towards sustainability, climate change and renewable energy, indicating that young people are willing to take the lead in finding solutions to climate change, were also debated, along with Masdar-led research released at ADSW 2019 concerning the technologies expected to have the most impact on sustainable development over the next five years.

10 February 2019
Abu Dhabi, UAE