Summit on the Global Agenda Open Forums activate public debate on cities of the future and energy security
The events open for the public aim to bring the development dialogue to the public domain.
December 3, 2010 12:13 by Rasha Reslan
Delegates attending the World Economic Forum Summit on the Global Agenda, hosted by the Government of the UAE in Dubai from Nov.28 to Dec. 1, joined the local community in public debates on urbanization and energy security.
The Open Forums, newly added to the Summit this year and held at the American University in Dubai, on Sunday, debated two crucial issues: ‘Cities of the Future’ and ‘Energy Security and Economic Prosperity for the Region.’
Organised on the sidelines of the world’s largest brainstorming session, the events open for the public aim to bring the development dialogue to the public domain and allow the local community to interact with global thought leaders on wide ranging topics of pressing importance.
Speakers at the first Open Forum on the “Cities of the Future” articulated how urbanisation can drive innovation and resource efficiency despite city-wards migration and massive consumption constraining infrastructure and aggravating climate change. The forum also held governments as primarily accountable for driving sustainability innovations for the future through education, legislation and economic diversification.
“Sustainability is not all about money. If people are convinced sustainability can offer a better quality of life then they will accept it,” said Konrad Otto-Zimmermann, Secretary General of ICLEI-Local governments for Sustainability, Germany, contradicting the argument that sustainability needs a business case to succeed.
The Forum also featured members of the Global Agenda Councils including Phil Gordon, Mayor, city of Phoenix, Arizona, USA; Khalid Awad, founder of the UAE-based eco-development firm Granea; Fahd Al Rasheed, Managing Director and CEO of Emaar, The Economic City in Saudi Arabia; and Ran Xuefeng, Vice-Mayor of the Chinese city of Tianjin. Nick Gowing, presenter, BBC World News was the moderator of the discussion.
Speakers at the second session of the day on “Energy Security and Economic Prosperity in the Region” lauded countries in the region for leading renewable and cleaner energy initiatives to achieve sustainable growth and energy security, despite having a majority share of the world’s hydrocarbon reserves.
The session was addressed by Global Agenda Council members Margaret Catley-Davidson, Patron, Global Water Partnership, Canada; M.S. Srinivasan, Chairman, ILFS Tamilnadu Power Company, India; Nejib Zaafrani, Secretary-General and CEO, Dubai Supreme Council of Energy; and Cornelia Meyer, Independent Energy Expert and Chairman MRL Corporatio, UK. Fatima Zahra Daoui, business news presenter of Al Arabiya TV moderated the discussions.
“The UAE has successfully diversified its economy with 71 per cent of the national gross domestic product coming from non-oil sectors in 2009. Initiatives such as Masdar will help us build capacities in entrepreneurship, knowledge capital and innovations. The UAE is also developing a 1,400MW civil nuclear power project to meet future demand and it is certified as the ‘gold standard’ in responsible use of nuclear energy,” said His Excellency Sultan Bin Saeed Al Mansoori, UAE Minister of Economy, and Co-Chair of the Summit.
The Open Forums will resume on Dec. 1, the final day of the Summit with a discussion on “Water Security”, followed by a final session entitled “Education and Innovation”.
More information on the Open Forums, held at the American University in Dubai, is available on the Summit on the Global Agenda page of the World Economic Forum’s website: www.weforum.org. The Forums are also open to social media users on special pages; WEF at UAE, including Facebook & Twitter, to provide an opportunity for the public to interact at the workshop.
At the Summit, hosted by the UAE for the third year in a row, more than 700 global leaders from academia, business, government and society will engage in interactive workshops to set priorities to improve the state of the world and identify the latest trends, risks and innovative solutions to address the world’s challenges. The outcomes of the Summit will be integrated into the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting 2011 in Davos-Klosters for further discussion and action.