Tolerance, constructive dialogue and peace will be the engines that drive economic and social growth, said Sheikh Nahayan Mabarak Al-Nahayan, minister of tolerance and coexistence, UAE, at the second hybrid edition of the ABLF Talks at the Dubai Cares Pavilion, Expo 2020 Dubai.
The monthly leadership series, held under the patronage of Sheikh Nahayan and in partnership with the UAE Ministry of Economy and Dubai Cares, a UAE-based global philanthropic organization, saw a lively discussion by world leaders on the virtues of tolerance and inclusivity, and their role in meeting the sustainable development goals.
In the keynote address, Sheikh Nahayan highlighted how the UAE was driven by its belief in constructive dialogues and concern for each other’s welfare. “Tolerant societies are more open, innovative and economically prosperous while tolerant businesses are more successful. We in the UAE, consider ourselves to be the example of the truth of these statements,” he added.
The role of the Expo 2020 Dubai was also spotlighted as an event that not just motivated people to redesign and reshape their future but also served as a platform to learn, discover and appreciate the relationship between individuals and the world around them. “Our country is a land of opportunities. We will continue to be a dynamic hub of a vast, vibrant and ever-accelerating global market that serves over 2 billion people in the Middle East, Africa and beyond,” Sheikh Nahayan said.
The panel discussion that followed focused on the impact of the pandemic on the UN SDGs, especially in the education sector. Featuring Dr. Tariq Al-Gurg, commissioner general for the Dubai Cares Pavilion at Expo 2020 Dubai and chief executive of Dubai Cares; Dr. Dena Assaf, the UN resident coordinator, UAE, and the deputy commissioner-general, UN; and Majid Al-Usaimi, UNICEF national ambassador and president, Asian Paralympic Committee; the conversation veered on the need to democratize technology to bridge the huge gaps in society.
“COVID-19 has accelerated united efforts toward SDGs, but at the same time, it has also created a huge digital divide. If you have a shared vision and a global agenda but not enough technological connectivity or adequate force or funding, these goals cannot be achieved. Therefore, universal access to connectivity is critical,” said Dr. Al-Gurg. While listing out the various initiatives by Dubai Cares that aim to enhance children and youth’s access to education and creating opportunities for youth empowerment, he also announced the objectives of the upcoming RewirEd Summit, which is led by Dubai Cares in partnership with Expo 2020 Dubai and in close coordination with the UAE Ministry of Foreign Affairs and International Cooperation and a host of global stakeholders. Taking place at Dubai Exhibition Centre from Dec. 12-14, the largest education summit of its kind aims to rewire education for a prosperous and sustainable future.
Delving deep into the UN’s efforts to tide over the challenges posed by the pandemic, especially in poorer economies, Dr. Assaf spoke about the need to engage with communities in a multi-level, multi-cultural and holistic manner while ensuring that technology is not used in a one-size-fits-all approach. “From the UN’s perspective, we work on the principle of — ‘no one should be left behind,’” he added, outlining the huge difference in access among various groups in different countries.
Meanwhile, Al-Usaimi brought the issues faced by people of determination to the forefront and the role of sports in building opportunities and communities.
Stressing on the need to use technology and research to identify the needs and customize programs for their benefit, Al-Usaimi said: “Our aim should be to get everything — money, technology and expertise — toward the achievements of the same goal.”