18 Mar 2022


Knowledge Summit addresses integrated communities for people of determination, role of knowledge in energy transition, and promotion of scientific policy dialogues

March 21, 2022 - The Knowledge Summit, organized by the Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation (MBRF), in collaboration with the United Nations Development Program (UNDP), concluded its virtual sessions by addressing a range of key topics, including the development of integrated communities for people of determination, future literacy and how can it reduce human fragility and vulnerability, role of knowledge in energy transition, and promoting science policy dialogues.

Co-creating a resilient future: Disability inclusive societies

The first session on the last day of the event is themed ‘Co-creating a resilient future: Disability inclusive societies. It discussed various strategies and integration opportunities for people of determination in communities, through a curriculum based on rights. The session featured Dr. Victor Santiago Pineda, Investor, philanthropist, author, and serial social impact entrepreneur; Michael Haddad, Goodwill Ambassador for Climate Action Regional Bureau for Arab States - (UNDP); and Maya Beydoun, Project Management Specialist and Youth Arts and Music Initiative (AYAMI) Manager. In addition, the session was also moderated by Hazem Ibrahim, from Asharq News.

In the first part of the discussion, Dr. Victor discussed the significance of integrating people of determination in societies, as well as providing them with the rights and tools to contribute to building societies. He further urged governments around the world to take serious measures in embracing people of determination, emphasizing how smart cities offer various possibilities for this category, and the need to keep these communities in mind while developing new cities.

During his remarks, Michael Haddad explained how his disability did not stand in the way of his commitment to hike and his efforts to spread awareness regarding climate change in his role as part of the UNDP.

Haddad said: “I was able to overcome my disability by hiking did not let it stand in the way of my journey. Therefore, we must understand that nothing is impossible, and that we can overcome any obstacles in our way.” Furthermore, Maya Beydoun addressed the Arab region Youth Arts and Music Initiative (AYAMI), launched in 2019, and its objective around achieving the 17 Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) among Arab youth through arts and music. The initiative provides an opportunity for people of determination to participate, encourages innovation, and open discussions, in addition to providing health and psychological assistance to integrate them into society. She further noted how the initiative is in line with the UN’s promise to ensure that no one is left behind.

Futures literacy’ and how can it reduce human fragility and vulnerability

The second session, themed ‘Futures literacy’ and how can it reduce human fragility and vulnerability,’ discussed the significance of future of literacy in limiting human errors, as well as the influence of humans’ perspectives on finding our true selves for the purpose of knowledge. The session featured Riel Miller, Former Head of Foresight and Futures Literacy, UNESCO.

At the beginning of the session, Riel Miller discussed the importance of future literacy for humanity, describing the future as an outcome of hopes, fears, and expectations. Additionally, he noted that literacy is a vital mechanism to enhance knowledge, capacity, and competence, providing greater chances for future literacy with creativity and imagination.

Miller said: “Imagination plays a significant role in literacy, whereas fear remains an obstacle even in the present. We must understand imagination and its resources. The future consists of various elements and might be affected by doubts. Prediction and future literacy, on the other hand, are all futuristic images. Therefore, being aware of differences and appreciating them inspires innovation and creativity.”

Miller further asserted how the world is complex and change is inevitable. He emphasized the significance of embracing changes and experiencing new things to be wiser and avoid bureaucratic obstacles to future literacy. Lastly, he stated that future literacy requires preparation for the future, and how we must be prepared in advance to face all challenges in a rapidly changing world. 

The Role of Knowledge in Energy Transition

Dr. Rabia Ferroukhi, Director of the Knowledge, Policy, and Finance Centre at the International Renewable Energy Agency (IRENA), led the discussion for the third virtual session, themed, ‘The role of knowledge in energy transition’, the recovery of renewable energy after Covid-19, the frameworks of energy transition policies, social and economic benefits of changing energy system, and the needs of learning and knowledge.

Dr. Ferroukhi also conducted an in-depth presentation of IRENA, and their role in promoting and offering knowledge on renewable resources. The agency currently engages in more than 180 countries worldwide, offering free virtual platforms for information and knowledge on renewable energy from various publications, data, and statistics.

“The increase in technology costs has caused an important transformation towards renewable energy. The electrical energy produced through renewable energy sources in 2018 amounted to 322 megawatts, which then decreased in 2020 due to the Covid-19 pandemic and reached 268 megawatts. This indicates the global inclination to achieving sustainable transformation, in accordance with the seventh directive in the UN 2030 Agenda which aims to provide affordable clean energy. Countries like the UAE, Germany, and EU countries have been adopting policies in support of this goal,” she added.

Speaking of energy consumption and its environmental impacts, Ferroukhi discussed about how solar, wind, and water energy were the most used renewable energy sources. These sources are less expensive than fossil fuels which contribute to 40 per cent of the emissions in the atmosphere and increase global warming. She also predicted that if humans were to continue the use of fossil fuels and promote harm to the environment, there would be a 1.5-degree temperature increase in the upcoming years.

She also affirmed that acquiring knowledge would be crucial to achieve a complete transformation to renewable energy. She asserted that this would further sustainable development goals to operate on renewable energy, as providing clean energy to everyone contributes to development, thus ending diseases, achieving food security, and combating climate change and global warming.

Regarding the complete transformation towards renewable energy, Dr. Ferroukhi indicated that the world was currently in possession of the technology required to make the shift. However, more international commitment from governments is required within the next ten years to encourage this directive and provide investment opportunities. Currently, the sector has a noticeable lack of funding and would require more than USD 46 million, which is USD 5 million per year, from the public and private sectors, to achieve this goal by 2030.

The Role of Entertainment during the Pandemic

The fourth session, entitled ‘The Role of Entertainment during the Pandemic’, hosted Nadine Samra, Chief Business Officer at Weyyak.com, and Nashaat Eldehy, CEO of TEN channel.

The speakers discussed the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic on traditional and digital media and VOD platforms. Nadine Samra indicated that the digital entertainment sector was witnessed a surge in views during the pandemic owing to the global lockdowns. She further stated that views usually increased during the month of Ramadan. The number of users of the Weyyak VOD platform increased by 70 per cent during the pandemic, logins doubled in two months, and the average viewing time increased from 50 minutes, reaching almost 60 to 90 minutes.

Highlighting the impact of the pandemic, Samra explained how the current method did not experience a drastic impact owing to the flexibility of remote working systems in digital platforms. The biggest inconvenience, she noted, was faced by the content production strategies and plans which stopped momentarily but were able to resume work after eight to nine months of the pandemic. She indicated that the biggest challenge during this period was the state of uncertainty, with the team constantly wondering how to maintain this high level of growth once the pandemic ended and solutions were found.

Nashaat Eldehy also added that the Covid-19 pandemic was a defining moment for both traditional and digital platforms, as it ensured the transformation of concepts and strategies of entertainment content in line with the latest trends. He clarified that the effects were positive for both sectors as the audience turned to the entertainment sector to help ease the negative effects of the pandemic on mental health.

Promoting science policy dialogue: IAP and EASAC work on Climate Change and Health

The final virtual session of the Knowledge Summit, ‘Promoting science policy dialogue: IAP and EASAC work on Climate Change and Health’, discussed a partnership project between IAP and EASAC for climate change and health, while also touching upon the effects of climate change on the health of human beings. The session hosted Robin Fears, Biosciences Programme Director of EASA and IAP Project Coordinator.

Fears explained how climate change has negatively impacted temperatures, leading to a decrease in rainfall and increase in floods. He said, “In the last few years, we have witnessed a rapid increase in high temperatures, and realized the need for an urgent reaction. This increase has had an adverse impact on human health considering the many inconvenient changes, especially for the poor and the marginalized, who have had a harder time securing proper health care.”

Fears listed the many ways in which climate change affects human health through various organs systems such as the respiratory system, mental and psychological health, and even nutrition. He further discussed that how it affects agriculture and weakens global food security. Highlighting the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic, Fears noted the fragility of the health sector and international economies. He believed that policy makers and global leaders needed to adopt scientific policies to decrease the pressures facing humanity.

Fears also facilitated an extended presentation on the biosciences program and the partnership project between IAP and EASAC to present scientific evidence on the effects of climate change on health and finding solutions to decrease those effects. This partnership has produced many studies, research, and reports that can be used on national and regional levels by partner and member countries to develop policies and improve practices to face challenges.

The Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum Knowledge Foundation aims to promote and empower knowledge in communities regionally and globally. The Foundation believes in the ability of knowledge to build faster and more accurate solutions to health, environmental, economic, and social challenges, and provide a better future and a clear path towards sustainable development.

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