The Zayed Sustainability Prize, the UAE’s pioneering global sustainability and humanitarian award, convened its second Forum in New York City on 19 September 2023, as part of the Concordia Annual Summit, on the sidelines of New York Climate Week.
Distinguished government, business, and civil society leaders participated in the Forum themed "Empowering Voices: Driving Climate Action." They discussed the critical role of social innovation, finance, technology, and policy, in accelerating progress toward a sustainable, inclusive, and equitable future.
This commitment to driving climate action aligns with the mission of the Zayed Sustainability Prize, which was established in 2008 as a tribute to the legacy of the UAE’s founding father, the late Sheikh Zayed bin Sultan Al Nahyan. Over the last 15 years, the Prize has recognized a total of 106 winners whose solutions and student-led school projects have transformed the lives of over 378 million people across 151 countries.
The Hon. Dr. Kandeh Yumkella, Member of Parliament and Chair of the Presidential Initiative on Climate Change, Renewable Energy and Food Security of Sierra Leone, opened the Forum by looking at the need to integrate the global south, especially Africa, in a just energy transition. He remarked: “We need effective action and honest cooperation at all levels. Between people, communities, governments, and the private sector. We are seeing partnerships grow, especially with the support of the UAE, for larger-scale renewable projects, which will be presented at COP28, and we hope to continue seeing more."
The subsequent panels covered topics ranging from transforming food systems and addressing inclusive climate finance issues, to exploring how green technologies and social innovations can improve access to essential resources.
Angela Churie Kallhauge, Executive Vice President of Impact, Environmental Defense Fund, highlighted the importance of empowering local realities to secure everyone’s energy future: “We need to shift our focus back to what our climate solutions mean for people. We will truly make a change by empowering indigenous people and local communities to claim their stakes and be part of the solution.”
Underscoring the themes of youth and inclusivity, the Forum also dedicated a segment to young activists expressing their thoughts on the future of sustainable development and sharing their experiences.
These multifaceted conversations all emphasized the urgency of collective efforts in driving bold global climate action, particularly in mobilizing resources for the most vulnerable communities, adopting a cohesive strategy for global food security, and empowering youth to drive change, thereby galvanizing momentum in the lead-up to COP28, which will take place in the UAE from November 30th to December 12th, 2023.