SHARM EL-SHEIKH: Creating career opportunities within the green-energy sector is of paramount importance for the future of the Middle East region, according to the president of King Abdullah University of Science and Technology.
Tony Chan, who took part in a panel discussion titled “How to Pave a Career Path in Protecting the Planet” during the Saudi Green Initiative Forum on the sidelines of the UN Climate Change Conference (COP27) in the Egyptian city of Sharm El-Sheikh, told Arab News that more career options should be made available for young people within the green sector in the region.
He said the “mindset of youth” is focused on sustainability and that this can help to solve issues related to climate change.
“Sustainability and climate is for the next generation,” Chan said. “For someone who is 20 years-old, they have another 50, 60, 70 years to live (and) the youth are in the best position to help solve the problem.”
With this in mind, he said KAUST is setting up an academy to offer courses for young people across the Kingdom to prepare them for careers in the green energy and artificial intelligence sectors.
Meanwhile, the Saudi university showcased three projects at the Saudi Pavilion at COP27: The Future of the Hydrogen Economy; Carbon Capture via MOFs (metal-organic frameworks); and Storing Carbon Underground.
“My main message is that you cannot just talk about climate change, you have to do something about it, and you have to do something at scale, and we are starting to do that,” Chan said, noting that they had also signed a number of agreements during the global summit with national and international partners.
Looking to the next COP28, which will be held in Dubai, Chan said he hopes by that time, KAUST will have announced its sustainability plan for its campus with a net zero date.
“Right now, we are doing the planning. We know we want the date to be before 2060, which is the Kingdom’s” target, he said.
Chan added that by next year they will also host a global sustainability congress, organized by the Times Higher Education World University Rankings, and have applied to build a solar farm on their campus that will supply up to 30 percent of their electricity needs.