HCT To Advance its Green Credentials for COP 28 And Beyond with Launch of Sustainability Framework
Every member of HCT – from students, staff, faculty, to even alumni – has a role to play in HCT’s new, milestone Sustainability Framework, Towards COP28 & Beyond.
That was the clear message conveyed to the HCT community during the official launch of its comprehensive Framework, which will act as a road map to guide the whole HCT system as to how it will facilitate, engage and educate its members to be sustainability champions in the lead up to COP28, and beyond.
Dr. Faisal Al Ayyan, HCT President & CEO, issued a rallying call to all HCT members, saying: “We need all of us at HCT to come together with our leaders and our government to support the successful hosting of COP28. All of us have a role to play, as it is a global event.”
“We are lucky in the UAE that the government has the vision to host COP28, and even looking beyond the region. This event needs to be engaged by not only HCT, but the whole of the UAE. Everybody needs to be engaged with that. We need to show the world how the UAE is involved in sustainability, worldwide,” Dr. Al Ayyan said.
“It should be part of our ecosystem, with our families and neighbors. We need to speak about sustainability,” he added.
HCT’s President & CEO noted that the UAE’s focus on a sustainable future would not end with COP28, saying it will be a time for the nation to showcase it identity and its students’ future capabilities. “The UAE will be the home of these mega events that have a legacy, have an impact and a link with the future,” he said.
Ms. Hind Al Mualla, HCT Vice President of Employability & Knowledge Economy, summed up the feeling of HCT as COP28 draws closer, saying: “We are excited and passionate about being part of this amazing event that will lead to a more sustainable future for everyone.”
“We are doing so many activities and research on HCT that we need to have a framework – covering all our activities,” she added.
Hind Al Mualla praised the appointed of a select group of HCT students, appointed as COP28 Youth Sustainability Ambassadors, chosen from throughout HCT’s campuses, and who will be the focal contact points at HCT’s campuses as sustainability representatives.
“They represent the future in collaboration with you. They are bringing the voice of the youth and the voice of the future into these panels. They will support you to help your voice reach across HCT and beyond COP28,” Ms. Al Mualla said.
During the official launch, Dr. Ahmed Samy, Advisor to the Office of the President & CEO, revealed the four key pillars of HCT’s Sustainability Framework - Stakeholder Engagement; Accelerated Solutions; Sustainable Communities; & Campus Carbon Neutrality.
In launching the Framework, Dr. Samy emphasized that this initiative was not solely directed to COP28. “This is towards COP28 and beyond. We are developing a sustainability framework that will organize and shape all our events and projects for sustainability and it needs to be embedded in everything we do and part of our ecosystem,” Dr. Samy said.
Referring to enhanced stakeholder engagement, Dr. Samy reiterated a whole-of-community approach was needed by HCT. “How do we make sure they are engaged in the process of being educated about sustainable development, about sustainability practices. This can happen through programs, curricula, through professional development courses to faculty and staff,” he said.
The launch event heard that the pillar for accelerated solutions will see HCT generate more startups with a sustainability focus, applied research and capstone projects with a sustainability focus, launch an applied research fellowship and showcase sustainability-focused applied research and innovation projects.
Dr. Samy noted the third pillar of sustainable communities was an “exceptionally important” focal point for HCT. “HCT is not operating in a vacuum or in isolation from its local communities. How do we expand all our efforts, initiatives and activities to include the community, to educate the community and to ensure that there are sustainable practices within the local communities,” Dr. Samy said.
HCT has made considerable progress with sustainable communities, highlighted by its membership of the Universities Climate Network and the UAE Alliance for Climate Action, which will result in greater industry-academia collaborations throughout the UAE.
The 4th pillar will see HCT taking a more introspective approach towards sustainability, ensuring its campus environments are carbon neutral, while working to achieve the UAE’s net zero agenda by 2050. This will add to HCT’s roadmap to become carbon neutral, where it was the first to obtain the QS 5-star rating in ESG and obtained a bronze rating in the global HEI ‘STARS’ rating.
Other highlights of the Framework launch included:
- HCT will be an exhibitor at COP28’s Educating Green Hub, with one of the largest stands and a very strong presence, with international partners, such as UNESCO & EURASHE;
- HCT’s Baniyas campus is projected to become the HCT’s first green university by the end of 2023;
- HCT has achieved 23% reductions in energy usage;
- 27% of HCT programs are sustainability focused;
- HCT will host an annual HCT Sustainability Forum, and an annual sustainability competition;
- HCT will host annual campus-wide sustainability program,
- HCT plans to implement 90 EV charging stations system-wide;
- HCT will promote education for sustainable development with staff, faculty and students and offering a program focused on sustainability
“A lot of things are happening, and will happen, to ensure that sustainability is embedded within our ecosystem,” Dr. Samy said.
The launch heard from Mr. Nicola Bettio, HCT’s Executive director of Applied Research, Innovation & Entrepreneurship, who highlighted HCT’s commendable commitment to sustainability in its research agenda. “In the last five years, 90 applied research projects out of roughly 300 were focused on sustainable themes, or themes related to the (UN) SDGs,” he said.
He highlighted that 15 startups had already been launched through HCT’s Startup Development Program, that are currently engaged in business related to the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals. “HCT is very prolific in terms of applied research projects and startups, but it is very much focused on the SDGs,” Mr. Bettio said.
He also noted HCT’s entrepreneurial ecosystem was increasingly creating greater impact. “HCT’s entrepreneurial focus means that it is making sure that whatever knowledge or skills we are creating, are generating GDP or employment. We are aiming to immediately empower our students to become masters of their own professional futures, in a way where they are contributing to the economy in terms of employment or gross national product,” Mr. Bettio said.
The launch event included two dedicated panel discussions, including the participation of HCT’s COP28 Youth Sustainability Ambassadors. The panels discussed how HCT’s path to green credentials started in 2018 and advanced to the STARS rating, noting its pathway to carbon neutrality is a big journey, requiring a road map that includes the de-carbonization of HCT buildings and creating environmentally smart buildings.
The panels also discussed that, while there has been an upswing in adopting sustainability, there is a need for HCT to get all stakeholders involved in its de-carbonization road map. “Every single person who is related to at HCT has a role to play in sustainability and the de-carbonization,” Engineer Rafat Kabbara said.
HCT’s COP 28 Youth Ambassadors weighed into the debate, declaring that they must be the “voice for change” and that all HCT members should make sustainability a value and a way of life to make better changes in their lives.