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Masdar Institute Joins Stakeholders to Drive Debate on Sustainability at Rio+20 Summit

Masdar Institute of Science and Technology, an independent, research-driven graduate-level university focused on advanced energy and sustainable technologies, today announced it joined stakeholders to mark its collaborative contribution to global sustainable development goals through the launch of the UAE Solar Atlas and driving discussions at the Rio+20 Summit in Brazil.

The delegation members from Masdar Institute including officials, faculty members and student members of the outreach initiative Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program engaged most of the nearly 120 heads of state and government, contributing to further the debate on sustainability, global environment and climate change. The Masdar Institute delegates participated in various panel discussions during the Summit that was held from 20-22 June.

Prior to the Summit, Masdar Institute delegates also participated in the ‘Rio+20 Corporate Sustainability Forum: Innovation and Collaboration for the Future We Want’ that was held from 14-18 June, as well as the ‘Sustainable Development Dialogues’ that was organized from 16-19 June in Rio. The Rio+20 Summit additionally witnessed more than 500 on-site side events organized by governments, major groups, organizations from the UN system and other international organizations from 13-15 June during the preparatory committee (Prepcom-III) meetings.

The UAE pavilion that hosted Masdar Institute, Masdar and other Mubadala entities attracted several high-profile visitors during the summit. The pavilion proudly displayed the hourly/daily/yearly solar irradiance maps for the Solar Atlas that were produced by a robust satellite-based mapping tool developed and validated at the UAE Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment at Masdar Institute. An accurate assessment of the three solar irradiance components is expected to simulate the efficiency of available power generation technologies.

Dr Lamya N. Fawwaz, Executive Director, Public Affairs, Dr Steve Griffiths, Executive Director of Institute Initiatives, Masdar Institute, and other officials led the participation through interacting with government and industry leaders as well as participating in side panels. Representing the UAE Research Centre for Renewable Energy Mapping and Assessment at Masdar Institute were Dr. Hosni Ghedira, Director, and Dr. Taha Ouarda, Deputy Director. The Research Centre continues to play a pivotal role in the development of a Global Atlas on Solar and Wind Energy.

Engaging stakeholders during a C3E event at the UAE Pavilion, Dr Lamya Fawwaz said that she facilitated the participation of two female students in the International Antarctica Expedition 2012 as part of Masdar Institute’s efforts to support and develop the leadership skills in the UAE and worldwide. Both students joined polar explorer Sir Robert Swan on his ‘Leadership on the Edge’ program, designed to build participants’ team and leadership skills and provide a suitable environment to debate key issues facing Antarctica and the planet at large.

Dr Fawwaz also pointed out that as a member of the Masdar Institute Women Advisory Committee, she has contributed to the decision-making process on sustainability and clean energy policy. The Committee advises the President of the Institute on areas that concern the community groups and reflects Masdar Institute’s commitment to the development and promotion of women’s leadership and empowerment. She also identified several measures that will facilitate the education and empowerment of women to lead the clean energy revolution.

Dr Griffiths led the discussions for a panel titled ‘Masdar Institute’s Role in Shaping the Future Energy Landscape’ on 21 June, while Dr. Ghedira participated as a member of the panel. With the support of the partners, they highlighted Masdar Institute’s successful global and local collaborations that have kept the Abu Dhabi-based research institution in the forefront of innovation.

Additionally, speaking at another session titled ‘Innovation in Green Growth Technology for Developing Countries’ on 19 June, Dr Griffiths elaborated on how Masdar fits into a philosophy of capacity building, innovation, and R&D. His talk addressed the major question with big demonstration projects that have always remained the pathways to generate long-term benefits. Masdar and Masdar Institute collectively address this question, at least in part, by generating a larger and sustained community, he said and put into perspectives the lessons learned and funding models derived from the Masdar experience. The session was organized by Brookings Institution of the US, the Institute for Energy Economics (IEE) at the University of Sao Paulo, Brazil, and the Global Green Growth Institute (GGGI) of South Korea.

Earlier, Dr. Taha Ouarda shared his insights with delegates on ‘Adapted Wind Resource Modeling in the GCC Region’. Dr. Taha Ouarda is also the Head of Water and Environmental Engineering program at Masdar Institute.

Mandated to offer the youth and students an avenue to engage energy industry leaders, the Young Future Energy Leaders (YFEL) program facilitated the participation of two Masdar Institute students – Maitha Al Kaabi and Rasha Abd Rabu – who showcased their research projects at the Summit. Other Masdar Institute officials including Ibrahim Alsharif, Research Assistant, with Event Officers Khaula Al Nuaimi and Shaikha Al Khayyal briefed visitors about various aspects of the research offerings and sustainable projects at the campus.

Speaking at the Women Leaders’ Forum on Gender Equality and the Empowerment Rasha Abd Rabu pointed out that women make up 65% of university graduates in the UAE, in addition to now being the majority of graduates in high school and college. She added that the though the numbers are increasing in almost all graduate schools especially in engineering, it has not resulted in higher female labor force participation, as currently women engineers and scientists make up just about 25%. She also emphasized that institutions and organizations need to provide support, networking, encouragement, and funding to women in engineering.

The intense participation by Masdar Institute once again reiterated the research-based institution’s commitment to furthering the cause of sustainability through contributing to the implementation of meaningful initiatives.

Established as an on-going collaboration with the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Masdar Institute integrates theory and practice to incubate a culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, working to develop the critical thinkers and leaders of tomorrow. With its world-class faculty and top-tier students, the Institute is committed to finding solutions to the challenges of clean energy and climate change through education and research.

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